Organic Resistance

The Struggle over Industrial Farming in Postwar France

By Venus Bivar

240 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 16 halftones, 1 map, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-4118-8
    Published: March 2018
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-4117-1
    Published: March 2018
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-4119-5
    Published: March 2018

Flows, Migrations, and Exchanges

Buy this Book

For Professors:
Free E-Exam Copies

To purchase online via an independent bookstore, visit

Awards & distinctions

2019 J. Russell Major Prize, American Historical Association

2019 Honorable Mention, David Pinkney Prize, Society for French Historical Studies

Shortlisted, 2019 Wallace K. Ferguson Prize, Canadian Historical Association

Shortlisted, 2020 European Studies Book Award, Council for European Studies

France is often held up as a bastion of gastronomic refinement and as a model of artisanal agriculture and husbandry. But French farming is not at all what it seems. Countering the standard stories of gastronomy, tourism, and leisure associated with the French countryside, Venus Bivar portrays French farmers as hard-nosed businessmen preoccupied with global trade and mass production. With a focus on both the rise of big agriculture and the organic movement, Bivar examines the tumult of postwar rural France, a place fiercely engaged with crucial national and global developments.

Delving into the intersecting narratives of economic modernization, the birth of organic farming, the development of a strong agricultural protest movement, and the rise of environmentalism, Bivar reveals a movement as preoccupied with maintaining the purity of the French race as of French food. What emerges is a story of how French farming conquered the world, bringing with it a set of ideas about place and purity with a darker origin story than we might have guessed.

About the Author

Venus Bivar is assistant professor of history at Washington University in St. Louis.
For more information about Venus Bivar, visit the Author Page.


“This engaging, thoroughly researched work of history, agriculture and politics will be of broad interest to academic readers and is highly recommended for any institution with programs in history, political science, economics, environmental science, food science, or agriculture.”--Choice

"If you have ever believed that gastronomy necessarily reigned supreme in France, or if eating organic food has ever made you feel good and pure, read Organic Resistance and think again."--H-France

“An outstanding exploration of agricultural modernization that shows how France reconciled its past and future in the soil and how farmers themselves had the agency to shape the nation. Bivar writes engagingly, and each chapter opens with a vignette that personalizes the larger structures and reforms being tackled. These personal perspectives enliven the agricultural world and give a sense of the high stakes for ordinary people.”--French History

“Highly readable and tightly structured. . . . Bivar’s carefully researched history traces the transformation of French agriculture that began in the immediate post-World War II period, when it was still an extremely old-fashioned remnant of a bygone era, to its current hybrid and complex form, using a range of source materials together with a provocative narrative structure.”--EuropeNow

“Makes an original, thought-provoking, and most welcome contribution both to historical debates about agriculture and contemporary concerns about food security.”--H-Net Reviews

“Carefully researched, eminently readable, and highly relevant, Organic Resistance has broad significance in modern European environmental and agricultural history and adds to the growing historiography on the social and economic rebuilding of postwar France.”--Environmental History