Julie Guthman receives book award

Julie Guthman, assistant professor of community studies, has received the 2007 Frederick H. Buttel Outstanding Scholarly Achievement Award from the Rural Sociological Society for her book Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California.

The award will be presented in August during the society's annual meeting, which takes place this year in Santa Clara.

Published in 2004, Agrarian Dreams presents the first comprehensive analysis of organic agriculture in California. Among Guthman's major findings was the discovery that many growers switched from conventional farming to organic agriculture to increase earnings and to comply with intermediary buyers' requests, not out of a commitment to environmental stewardship.

The paradox referred to in the title stems from California's unique agricultural system of year-round, high-intensity, specialty-crop production that largely relies on migrant farm labor-a far cry from the agrarian tradition associated with the family farm. With the high cost of land, growers are under great pressure to get more crop value per acre. The result is an organic system that in many ways replicates the conventional agribusiness model, according to Guthman.