Synopses & Reviews
Who would have thought that a natural food supermarket could have been a financial refuge from the dot-com bust? But it had. Sales of organic food had shot up about 20 percent per year since 1990, reaching $11 billion by 2003....Whole Foods managed to sidestep that fray by focusing on, well, people like me. from the introduction to Organic, Inc.
Organic food has become a juggernaut in an otherwise sluggish food industry, growing at 20 percent a year as products like organic ketchup and corn chips vie for shelf space with conventional comestibles. But what is organic food? Is it really better for you? Where did it come from, and why are so many of us buying it?
Business writer Samuel Fromartz set out to get the story behind this surprising success after he noticed that his own food choces were changing with the times. In Organic, Inc., Fromartz traces organic food back to its anti-industrial origins more than a century ago. Then he follows it forward again, casting a spotlight on the innovators who created an alternative way of producing food that took root and grew beyond their wildest expectations. In the process he captures how the industry came to risk betraying the very ideals that drove its success in a classically complex case of free-market triumph.
"Fromartz makes it clear just how precarious this movement has been....Despite the perils facing the industry, the tone of Organic, Inc. is much more upbeat and optimistic." Los Angeles Times
"In Organic, Inc., Samuel Fromartz gives us a uniquely American story the emergence of Big Organics from humble origins in small, counterculture farms. Fromartz writes with the passion of an organic partisan but his account of the pros and cons of Organics, Big and Small, is unusually balanced, honest, and compelling." Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics
"Unfortunately, this is an author who forces you to eat your spinach and eat it and eat it before you get to the meat of the matter, much less the dessert. Instead of spinach, read baby lettuce leaves. Instead of meat, read organically raised free-range chickens." Wall Street Journal
"[D]emonstrates how the skills and perspective of journalists can produce in-depth accounts of social, political and economic phenomena that go beyond mere reportage, or 'he said/she said' accounts of controversial issues. Fromartz...effectively integrates interviews with key actors in the corporate, government, and organic farming sector, along with savvy analysis of the economic, regulatory, and consumer dynamics that are in play. He also personalizes the book with accounts of his own quest for healthy food while shopping, testing organic food for attractiveness and taste, while maintaining a certain distance as an 'objective' surveyor of a remarkable story." Richard C. Collins, The Virginia Quarterly Review (read the entire VQR review)
About the Author
Samuel Fromartz is a business journalist whose work has appeared in Inc., Fortune Small Business, BusinessWeek, The New York Times, and other publications. A recreational cook, he lives in Washington, D.C.
Table of Contents
1. Humus Worshippers
The Origins of Organic Food 1
2. The Organic Method
Strawberries in Two Versions 32
3. A Local Initiative
From Farm to Market 69
4. A Spring Mix
Growing Organic Salad 108
5. Mythic Manufacturing
Health, Spirituality, and Breakfast 145
The Meaning of Organic 7. Consuming Organic
Why We Buy 237