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Organic Manifesto: New book carries on mission for health, wellness and environment
Last modified: 2011-02-01 20:05:38

Maria Rodale is the CEO and Chairman of Rodale Inc., the world's leading multimedia company with a focus on health, wellness, and the environment, and the largest independent book publisher in the U.S.

She is founding editor of the company's newest online venture, Rodale.com, which features the latest news and information about healthy living on a healthy planet, as well as her blog, Maria's Farm Country Kitchen. She is also on the board of Rodale Institute.

Maria has won numerous awards, including in 2004 the National Audubon Society's "Rachel Carson Award" and in 2007 the United Nations Population Fund's "Award for the Health and Dignity of Women." In 2009 she was named to Pennsylvania's "Best 50 Women in Business" List. She is also a member of the board of Bette Midler's New York Restoration Project, co-chair of the Rodale Institute board, and on the board of the Lehigh Valley Health Network.

Maria is a mother, an activist, and a businesswoman and has made promoting the benefits of an organic lifestyle both her personal mission and her business. She lives in an ecologically friendly house in Bethlehem, PA, with her husband, three children, one dog, one cat, and six guinea hens.

Maria Rodale has many jobs: Chairman, CEO, wife, mother, blogger and author. Her latest book, "Organic Manifesto:
How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe
," is a shocking look at our nation's (USA) agricultural chemical dependency and how organic farming is essential for our future on this planet. She answers our questions about farmers, research, inspiration and why we all need to demand organic.

What is Organic Manifesto about?

Maria Rodale: Organic Manifesto is about how agricultural chemicals are killing us-and life on this planet. It's based on the amazing scientific research done by people around the world, which before now has not been collected in one place to tell this tragic story. It's also about what we can all do to fix it.

In Organic Manifesto I uncovered research that links agricultural chemicals and GMOs to the following conditions: asthma, allergies, autism, ADHD, cancer, diabetes, infertility, childhood leukemia, obesity, organ failure, accelerated aging, Parkinson's disease, genital malformations and intestinal damage.

What inspired you to write the book?

MR: I was becoming increasingly concerned about the high levels of confusion, misinformation and divisiveness about organic - and I wanted to get to the truth. The majority of Americans can't tell you the difference between organic and natural, veganism and vegetarianism, biofuels and biodiesel. I wanted to make the issues easy to understand so that we can all stand together and fight for what's right for all.

What is the most shocking thing you uncovered in your research?

MR: All of us - and especially our children - are guinea pigs in a giant chemical experiment that has failed. There are over 80,000 chemicals in use in our environment - and especially in agriculture - and most have NEVER been tested on human health. Many researchers are finding that there is no such thing as a "safe" dose of these chemicals...that smaller doses are actually just as harmful as high doses.

You spoke with a lot of farmers-both organic and conventional. What did you learn from them?

MR: Chemical farmers are trapped on an economic and chemical treadmill and they can't get off without someone pulling the plug. They falsely believe that they need to keep growing more and more to feed the world, and yet the more they grow, the lower the price they get for their crops. The only ones making profits are the chemical companies, which have infiltrated every aspect of their lives and created an addiction that keeps farmers dependent.

Organic farmers are happy in their choice - and their families and their livestock are healthier and happier too. Organic farming is hard work, but it's rewarding, profitable and productive for farmers.

Who are some organic pioneers leading the way today?

MR: There are many organic pioneers leading the way - from Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan to Vandana Shiva and Alice Waters. I also applaud the business people who are making organic available to more and more people - from Gary Hirschberg of Stoneyfield Yogurt to John Mackey and his team at Whole Foods. Whether it's a small company or a big company like Walmart, an individual or a group - we all need to work together to demand organic.

What's your opinion on organic versus local?

MR: The gold standard is organic and local, but when in doubt always choose organic. After all, local chemical food contaminates your local environment, while organic food keeps chemicals out of the land, water and our bodies wherever it is grown.

Tropicana did an analysis of the carbon footprint of its orange juice and found that the number one contributor to carbon was the production and application of chemicals to their orange groves. It wasn't transportation or manufacturing.

What do you think is standing in the way of organic being our primary agricultural system?

MR: The biggest barrier to change is the huge profits being made by the chemical companies, which then enable them to spend a fortune lobbying the government, marketing lies to farmers and supporting politicians who are unwilling to speak out against them. In a study funded by the USDA at the University of Wisconsin, researchers were surprised to find that diversified organic farming was more profitable than monoculture chemical farming. They summarize their findings by stating that "government policy that supports mono-culture systems is outdated and support should be shifted to programs that promoted crop rotations and organic farming practices."

What can a regular person do to support organic?

MR: Demand Organic. Demand organic at home (stop using chemicals on your own landscape). Demand organic at your supermarket and restaurants (vote with your dollars). Demand organic from the government (write a letter!). Don't be afraid of ridicule and intimidation.

Why should we demand organic?

MR: Our future on this planet is at stake.

Everyone deserves organic food. And the more of us that demand organic, the more affordable it will become, the more we will clean up our atmosphere, our water and our bodies.

Maya Rodale is communications and outreach director for the Rodale InstituteOrder the book.

Keywords: Rodale Press, www.rodale.com, sion for health, wellness and environment, Why Organic, kenapa organik, diseases linked to agricultural chemicals, economics, Maria Rodale
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