The Conversion to Sustainable Agriculture: Principles, Processes, and Practices, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Conversion to Sustainable Agriculture

Principles, Processes, and Practices, 1st Edition

Edited by Stephen R. Gliessman, Martha Rosemeyer

CRC Press

380 pages | 33 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9780849319174
pub: 2009-12-21
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pub: 2009-12-21
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With all of the environmental and social problems confronting our food systems today, it is apparent that none of the strategies we have relied on in the past―higher-yielding varieties, increased irrigation, inorganic fertilizers, pest damage reduction―can be counted on to come to the rescue. In fact, these solutions are now part of the problem. It is becoming quite clear that the only way to keep the food crisis from escalating is to promote the conversion processes that will move agriculture to sustainability.

Under the editorial guidance of agroecology experts Martha Rosemeyer and the internationally renowned Dr. Stephen R. Gliessman, The Conversion to Sustainable Agriculture: Principles, Processes, and Practices establishes a framework for how this conversion can be accomplished and presents case studies from around the world that illustrate how the process is already underway. The book provides a four-stage transition process for achieving sustainability and an in-depth analysis of the global efforts to make farms more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.

An international team of chapter contributors explores ways to lessen dependency on fossil fuels and pesticides, and examines each step in the conversion process. They also describe the process of monitoring change toward sustainable agriculture while integrating social and economic analysis within scientific practices. Serving as both a core textbook for students and a comprehensive reference for agricultural practitioners, this volume is a valuable resource for the change that is needed in our food system now and in the future.


Framed by an awareness of the long-term destructiveness of established food system trends, it remains a hopeful book, with a focus on emerging alternatives. Twenty-five contributors present broad overviews and critical case studies of burgeoning sustainable agriculture movements on five continents, but North America gets the most attention, with excellent chapters on Cuba; Mexico; Ontario, Canada; and three regions of the US. The fascinating history of organic agriculture is presented as a case of a socio-environmental movement that risks diverging from sustainability as it grows and industrializes. Nonetheless, "organic" serves as a convenient proxy for "sustainable" through much of the book. This is a readable and information-packed volume, accessible to undergraduate students but rewarding to advanced students and sustainable agriculture professionals. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All collections.

–M. K. Bamford, Kentucky State University. CHOICE. JULY 2010, VOL 47, No 11

Refreshingly, the book acknowledges the difficulties of both researching and putting into practice changes at the whole system level as opposed to alterations in individual farming practices. Of particular value is the discussion of what motivates practitioners to alter their agricultural systems; this goes beyond the usual discussion of finance and markets to address issues such as family values and community development. …This book will interest students and practitioners of organic agriculture but will also be of value to a much wider community concerned with reducing the dependence of agriculture on fossil fuels and the challenges of reconnecting agriculture and consumers.

--Christine A. Watson, The Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 2010.

Table of Contents


The Framework for Conversion

Stephen R. Gliessman

What Do We Know about the Conversion Process? Yields, Economics, Ecological Processes, and Social Issues

Martha E. Rosemeyer

The History of Organic Agriculture

Rachael J. Jamison and John H. Perkins


Northern Midwest (U.S.): Farmers’ Views of the Conversion Process

Paul Porter, Lori Scott, and Steve Simmons

Pacific Northwest (U.S.): Diverse Movements toward Sustainability Amid a Variety of Challenges

Carol Miles, David Granatstein, David Huggins, Steve Jones, and James Myers

California (U.S.): The Conversion of Strawberry Production

Stephen R. Gliessman and Joji Muramoto

Ontario, Canada: Lessons in Sustainability from Organic Farmers

E. Ann Clark and Jennifer Sumner

Mexico: Perspectives on Organic Production

María del Rocío Romero Lima

Mexico: Traditional Agriculture as a Foundation for Sustainability

Alba González Jácome

Cuba: A National-Level Experiment in Conversion

Fernando R. Funes-Monzote

The European Union: Key Roles for Institutional Support and Economic Factors

Gloria I. Guzmán and Antonio M. Alonso

Japan: Finding Opportunities in the Current Crisis

Joji Muramoto, Kazumasa Hidaka, and Takuya Mineta

The Middle East: Adapting Food Production to Local Biophysical Realities

Alireza Koocheki

Australia: Farmers Responding to the Need for Conversion

David Dumaresq and Saan Ecker


Transforming the Global Food System

Stephen R. Gliessman

About the Editor

Stephen R. Gliessman, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA

Martha Rosemeyer, Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington, USA

About the Series

Advances in Agroecology

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
NATURE / Ecology
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / General
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Agriculture / General
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Agriculture / Forestry