Rooted Resistance

Agrarian Myth in Modern America
Ross Singer, Stephanie Houston Grey, and Jeff Motter
September 2020
318 pages, 6 x 9, 9 images, index

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Paper: $20.96 $27.95 (978-1-68226-143-9)
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From farm-to-table restaurants and farmers markets, to support for fair trade and food sovereignty, movements for food-system change hold the promise for deeper transformations. Yet Americans continue to live the paradox of caring passionately about healthy eating while demanding the convenience of fast food. Rooted Resistance explores this fraught but promising food scene. More than a retelling of the origin story of a democracy born from an intimate connection with the land, this book wagers that socially responsible agrarian mythmaking should be a vital part of a food ethic of resistance if we are to rectify the destructive tendencies in our contemporary food system.

Through a careful examination of several case studies, Rooted Resistance traverses the ground of agrarian myth in modern America. The authors investigate key figures and movements in the history of modern agrarianism, including the World War I victory garden efforts, the postwar Country Life movement for the vindication of farmers’ rights, the Southern Agrarian critique of industrialism, and the practical and spiritual prophecy of organic farming put forth by J. I. Rodale. This critical history is then brought up to date with recent examples such as the contested South Central Farm in urban Los Angeles and the spectacular rise and fall of the Chipotle “Food with Integrity” branding campaign.

By examining a range of case studies, Singer, Grey, and Motter aim for a deeper critical understanding of the many applications of agrarian myth and reveal why it can help provide a pathway for positive systemic change in the food system.

Ross Singer is associate professor of communication at Saginaw Valley State University. 

Stephanie Houston Grey is associate professor of communication studies at Louisiana State University. 

Jeff Motter is senior instructor of communication at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Rooted Resistance provides an accessible and engaging genealogy of agrarian myth that is at work in today’s media and culture, from the seed of the twentieth century to the harvest of the twenty first.”
—Carrie Tippen, author of Inventing Authenticity: How Cookbook Writers Redefine Southern Identity

Series Editors’ Preface
Introduction:Mythic Rhetoric Imagines the American Garden

I Seeds of Resistance
1 The Home Front Plants Agrarian Munitions
2 Country Life Defends Yeoman Democracy
3 The Southern Agrarians Take Their Stand
4 Rodale’s Jeremiad Inspires the Organic Movement

II Threatened Harvests
5 The South Central Farmers Cultivate a Precarious Community
6 Chipotle Brands Agrarian Innocence
7 RAM Mechanizes God’s Farmer

Conclusion: Agrarians Greet the Apocalypse


Food and Foodways is a series from the University of Arkansas Press that explores historical and contemporary topics in global food studies. We are committed to representing a diverse set of voices that tell lesser known food stories and to provoking new avenues of interdisciplinary research. Our strengths are works in the humanities and social sciences that use food as a critical lens to examine broader cultural, environmental, and ethical issues. In addition to scholarly books, we publish creative nonfiction that explores these topics with a focus on food’s sensory dimensions.

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