Monthly Archives: November 2010

AMA starting to figure out food matters

"let your food be your medicine."

The quote above is typically ascribed to Hippocrates, circa 400 B.C.

Change is slow, but a recently released Report 8 of the Council on Science and Public Health, by the American Medical Association comes to some obvious and potentially helpful conclusions…

Healthy diets are rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in unhealthy fats, sodium, and added sugars, but they also support environmental sustainability, economic viability, and human dignity and justice. Unhealthy food systems are not sustainable, and contribute to the very health problems the health care system is trying to solve – at extraordinary costs both economically and in terms of quality of life.

[from the Executive Summary, emphasis mine.] And this…

It is essential that health care organizations become both models and advocates of healthy, sustainable food systems that promote wellness and that “first do no harm.

That Hippocrates. He was a smart fella.


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Getting organic/local food into Chicago

world's greenest city (someday)

Chicago residents want more local and organic food, but how to get it into the city?

Some people are getting creative.

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Wwoof your way around the world


I’ve heard of people working on organic farms in other countries (there’s one sitting about 4-feet from me right now), but here’s an organization through which you can actually find organic farms to visit, live and work on.

It’s called Wwoofing, and it stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Wwoofing, “has become an international movement that is helping people share more sustainable ways of living.”

WWOOF is an exchange – In return for volunteer help, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles.

WWOOF organisations link people who want to volunteer on organic farms or smallholdings with people who are looking for volunteer help.

This is one of those win-win situations. Adventurous farmies and foodies get to see the world on the cheap and meet interesting people. Small-scale farmers get some labor (on-the-cheap). Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way. The grad student sitting 4-feet away from me has used Wwoof to find and work on several farms in the US and other countries, including Africa. For the most part, his experiences were excellent, but there were a couple bad ones. Unfortunately, the Wwoof web site doesn’t have review capabilities that allow traveling farm workers the chance to provide public feedback on their experiences on particular farms.

If you’ve worked on a farm through Wwoof, leave a comment and tell us about your experiences!

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Good resources from your virtual extension office

No one knows more about organic than these guys.

There is a web-based resource that keeps getting better and better, and so you should know about it.

eXtension’s Organic Agriculture portal is a wealth of information on every aspect of organic farming. Next to ATTRA, it is becoming THE place to go for organic information. It contains a constantly growing collection of articles submitted from across the country, articles that address issues and topics pertinent to organic farmering. Yes, I said “farmering” (a new term I just invented.).

Of course, for the ultimate organic resource list of lists, click on “Organic Resources” at the top of this page.

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Food craft

Remember when food was a craft? Probably not. These guys are bringing it back. Watch this lovely video…


The Mast Brothers from The Scout on Vimeo.


The Mast Brothers. Many of their products are organic, but they have gone so far above and beyond in producing quality chocolate products, that organic is almost an afterthought.

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A little piece of organic history: the strange death of J. I. Rodale

"I've decided to live to be 100."

I was reading through the object of my previous post — Historical Development of Organic Agriculture — when I stumbled across an incredible fact I had never heard before.

Anyone with a modicum of interest in organic farming will recognize the name Rodale. There are two Rodales, Jerome and his son Robert. Jerome was a successful businessman who became fascinated with natural farming methods, bought a farm and founded a publishing empire, writing and selling books on the natural life-style and organic farming. So controversial were his books that the Federal Trade Commission ordered him to stop selling them, claiming the advice therein was not consistent with modern medical science. The resulting legal fight went on for 20 years, and put at risk Jerome’s entire estate. By the end of it, doctors who had testified against Rodale at the beginning of the case were denouncing their earlier testimony, because subsequent medical research had proven Rodale’s ideas to be valid.

In 1971, Jerome’s picture appeared on the front page of the New York Times. Dick Cavett needed another guest for his show that night. They invited Jerome to appear. He did, and during the taping of that show, before a live audience, Jerome I. Rodale had a heart attack, and died.

There’s a wonderful account (if I can use that word) of the event HERE. It’s very interesting…

When I’m doing an appearance somewhere and taking questions from the audience, I can always count on: “Tell about the guy who died on your show!” I generally say, “I will, and I promise you that in a few moments you will be laughing.” (That gets a laugh.) I go on: “First, who would be the logical person to drop dead on a television show? A health expert.” (Laugh.) I go on to explain that he was Jerome I. Rodale, the publisher of (among other things) Today’s Health Magazine. (Laugh.) The irony gets thicker.

Robert Rodale, Jerome’s son took up the work. The Rodale Institute is still thriving and publishing cutting edge research and information on living healthfully and growing things without chemicals. Robert died in 1990 in an automobile accident in Moscow. He was in the Soviet Union to establish a Russian-language edition of The New Farmer.



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A history of organic

After careful study, we've determined the liklihood of the presence of soil at this location.

Organic didn’t start with the Hippy movement of the 60s. The intellectual foundation of natural, regenerative, sustainable, chemical-free farming goes way back.

If you want to learn more, this link will connect you to a YouSendIt download page for an Acrobat Adobe slide show presentation titled, Historical Development of Organic Agriculture.

It contains some great old images and texts from before the chemical (de)revolution.

The author of the presentation is Dr. Joel Gruver, School of Agriculture, Western Illinois University. He developed it for his Intro to Sustainable Ag class.

[NOTE: the YouSendIt link will only be live for a week.]

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