Clearing up confusion
Rodale says the idea for her book came to her four years ago, on her father's birthday, as she sat at a quiet spot on the family farm. “I was frustrated,” she says, referring to a tendency on the part of the environmental movement to emphasize alternative energy, recycling, and buying local far more than choosing organic. “I felt like I needed to clear up the confusion.”
Organic Manifesto does just that, making the passionate case that, while it's fine and dandy to recycle and upgrade your light bulbs, organic products play a critical role in solving our climate crisis. Buying local is also important, but it doesn't do much good to buy products made with chemicals that contaminate your community.
One chapter spells out with careful attention to science—drawn largely from the Rodale Institute, a leading research and advocacy group that she co-chairs—how organically farmed soil, loaded with mycorrhizal fungi, soaks up carbon and counteracts global warming. Another makes the case that our preference for cheap, non-organic food is actually costing us money, via farm subsidies and increased health costs.
Still another chapter traces the history of genetically modified organisms, explaining how the advent of Roundup Ready seeds has led directly to vast increases in the use of chemicals. Since plants are now bred to survive a Roundup bath, evidence suggests that farmers have upped their application rates.
Interestingly enough, Rodale downplays the oft-touted argument that organics are more nutritious. In reality, she finds the research mixed. “No offense, but nutrition is the least of our worries,” she says. “It's the diseases caused by these chemicals in our environment that are the real problem.”