The so-called Green Revolution is considered to have taken place in the earlier part of the twentieth century, and to have reached its apogee during the Cold War. In this paper, I review the history and prehistory of agricultural paradigms and paradigm changes in the context of Eastern Europe before and during the Cold War. More specifically, I start with the rise of the chemical paradigm in agriculture in nineteenth-century Europe, and trace the boosting of this chemical paradigm which was closely linked together with the rise of the chemical industry and socialist planning after World War II. I examine this industrial and agricultural policy together with dominant theories in agricultural chemistry and soil science in socialist Poland. Based on this historical approach, I argue that the paradigm shift from chemistry to biological breeding and microbiology, and the change of focus from quantity to quality was the most important change in socialism, which in turn led to alternative, regime-challenging ecological paradigms in soil science, which provided the theoretical context for environmental movements in the 1970s and 80s in Poland. This shift was also accompanied by changing notions of visibility and productivity, especially in view of the development and application of visual proof in microbiology and visible environmental concerns after the post-war period of rapid reconstruction. I shall also discuss the methodological difficulty of applying STS-informed ethnography to historical primary sources in an historical context, and how the nature of historical documents affects the writing of ethnography or historiography.