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  A. The First Comprehensive Study of Organic Agriculture

Narrator: This is Science Today. The fastest-growing segment of farming today is organic agriculture. In California, experts expect up to 20 percent of crops will be in organic production by the year 2024. Given such statistics, Julie Guthman, an assistant professor of community studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, conducted the first comprehensive study of organic agriculture in California – and it has yielded some surprises.

Guthman: There's this real counter-cultural imaginary that goes with organic farming and that these farmers have been selling to health food stores and co-ops for twenty-five or thirty years and there's still people that do that, but clearly almost everybody in California has seen organic food proliferate in their grocery store – so there's obviously more that's going on there that meets the eye.

Narrator: Contrary to the small farmer ‘myth', Guthman says much of the growth in organic agriculture comes from growers who made the switch from conventional farming to organic and then recruited other experienced conventional farmers to join them.

Guthman: So, they were looking for value.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.