Category Archives: natural

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.



Filed under ag education, agriculture, food-health connection, natural, organic

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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Lot’s of organic inputs for farmers

The chemical-free-ness of organic is kind of a misnomer. There are actually lots of products (inputs) available for organic farmers to buy and apply. This press release just landed in my inbox from OMRI. That’s the Organic Materials Review Institute. They’re the folks who analyze farming products to determine if they deserve the “organic” seal of approval. The press release trumpets the glad news that now there are over 2000 products organic farmers can buy. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand I’m glad the market is still so good that new players are getting in. On the other hand it seems ironic to me that a more “nature” way to farm now has over 2000 additives to choose from. The best thing I can say is know your farmer and know how (s)he farms. Read the whole press release…

The OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) Products List reached a milestone on October 7, 2010, for the first time exceeding 2000 listed products. OMRI, a global leader in materials review, performs comprehensive verification and listing of materials suitable for use in organic production.

“The OMRI Products List has grown steadily over the last 13 years, and we thank OMRI’s clients and supporters for working to ensure solid and consistent standards within the organic industry, and for helping us reach this milestone,” said Peggy Miars, OMRI Executive Director. “We at OMRI are proud to support the organic label through our history of solid integrity and reliable reviews.”

While OMRI staff may have paused to celebrate the landmark occasion, the organization is processing applications more quickly than ever. A new streamlined review process has completely eliminated the initial wait time for new applications while retaining the same rigorous standards that have made OMRI a cornerstone of the organic industry. “Now is a great time to submit an application, since we have made great strides in customer service,” added Miars. OMRI welcomed Miars in September, when she began her tenure as OMRI’s new Executive Director/CEO.

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Birds and coffee in beautiful brazil

Here’s the latest video from Fazenda Ambiental Forteleza, the most wonderful organic coffee farm in all of Brazil!

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The ui sustainable student farm

students farming and smiling

This has been up and running a couple seasons now, the UI Sustainability Student Farm.

It’s student-run and located on University ground close to campus.

It’s not certified organic, but it is pesticide-free.

They sell to Dining Services and at a farm stand on the Quad once a week.

Students can volunteer labor and take home fresh veggies.

It’s about 3 acres, and also has three high tunnels.

Check out the website for more info…

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