by Dan Sullivan
More than 65 years ago, organic farming pioneer Jerome Irving (J.I.) Rodale prophetically wrote: “One of these days the public is going to wake up and will pay for eggs, meat and vegetables according to how they were produced. A sustainable premium will be paid for high quality products, such as those raised by the organic method.”
J.I. knew that there was more to the true value of food in human and ecological health than the price paid at the supermarket. When he started to study the deleterious effects of chemicals on the soil, plants and human health, World War II had just ended. The U.S. government was encouraging the agricultural use of the surplus chemicals of warfare—nitrogen from bomb-making for fertilizer and nerve gas from biological weaponry for pesticides. J.I. said this whole approach was wrong. He wanted to build up healthy natural systems.
“My grandfather’s ideas are even more relevant today than when he thought of them,” said Maria Rodale, who now heads up Rodale, Inc., the publishing empire started by J.I. She also sits on the board of the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. “People ridiculed him and called him a quack. Since then, science has proven that he was correct.”
J.I. began to scientiﬁcally explore the connection between healthy soil and healthy food, work that became the foundation of the Rodale Institute in 1947. From its decades of research, the Institute can show the power of organics to create humus-rich soil, expand biodiversity and improve water quality—while producing as much as conventional farming—without using chemical nitrogen, herbicides or pesticides. The Institute helps farmers convert to organics and works with international audiences to champion the tremendous potential of organic agriculture to address urgent issues, especially global warming.
Pioneering organics since 1947, Rodale demonstrates the benefits of organic farming through innovative research. The Institute has trained farmers throughout the country and abroad in methods that replenish the soil and sequester carbon, thereby aiding the environment, and increasing nutrient density and drought resistance. Their soil scientists and a cooperating network of researchers have documented that organic farming techniques offer the best solution to global warming and famine.
"When we formed Organic Valley in 1988, there weren't a lot of voices out there advocating for nurturing the soils and farming in harmony with nature. J.I. Rodale was one of the exceptions."
— George Siemon, Organic Valley CEO
George in his milking parlor