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It’s organic because Germany invaded Poland: How and why organic got its name and the Oxford connection

Paull, John (2014) It’s organic because Germany invaded Poland: How and why organic got its name and the Oxford connection. In: Proceedings: 3rd Global Conference: Food, Inter-disciplinary.net (IDN), Witney, Oxfordshire, pp. 1-9.

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The term “organic farming” first appeared in Lord Northbourne’s manifesto of organic agriculture, Look to the Land, published in 1940. This paper reveals how the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939 was the compelling reason for the writing of the book, and how the University of Oxford played key roles at important times in Northbourne’s life in shaping and sustaining his thinking. He was both a graduate in agriculture as well as a lecturer in agriculture of the university. This paper examines how and why the term ‘organic’ came to be, the timing of the term and the timing of the book, and why WWII was a crucial element in shaping Northbourne’s framing of the food contest of modern times as a contest of ‘organic versus chemical farming’. He foresaw this as a contest lasting decades, and ‘perhaps for centuries’. Northbourne’s book was prescient in flagging many pressing contemporary food issues including animal welfare, food localism, food sovereignty, food security, while at the same time criticising junk food, chemical reductionism, industrial farming, monoculture farming, and the view of food production as primarily an economics driven enterprise. Northbourne championed a holistic approach to problem solving rather than a reductionist approach, and this pervades his thinking. It led him to fraternise with the leading advocates of his time of alternative agricultures and it shaped his philosophy of agriculture. In the years since Look to the Land first appeared, a great deal has been written about the how to of organic farming, yet Northbourne remains unsurpassed as the master of the why-to of organic farming.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Paper
Keywords:Organic agriculture, organic farming, organic food, Germany, Poland, Lord Northbourne, University of Oxford, Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, Rudolf Steiner.
Subjects:"Organics" in general > Countries and regions > Switzerland
"Organics" in general > Countries and regions > United Kingdom
"Organics" in general > History of organics
"Organics" in general > Countries and regions > Germany
Research affiliation:Australia > University of Tasmania
UK > Univ. Oxford
Related Links:https://orgprints.org/15089/1/15089new.pdf, https://orgprints.org/18835/1/Paull2011OxfordEJES.pdf, https://orgprints.org/19511/1/Paull2011BetteshangerJOS.pdf, http://intl-sgo.sagepub.com/content/spsgo/3/3/2158244013494861.full.pdf, https://orgprints.org/18808/1/Paull2010IfoamJSRP.pdf, https://orgprints.org/18809/1/Paull2011KoberwitzEJSS.pdf
Deposited By: Paull, Dr John
ID Code:27990
Deposited On:08 Jan 2015 12:47
Last Modified:09 Jan 2015 16:07
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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