Alright, I am going to talk about Fundamentals of Organic Agriculture, one of the classes I’m taking, again. One of the books that we have been reading for class is Organic Manifesto, by Maria Rodale. Although I started reading this book a while ago, at the beginning of the semester, I just finished it last night. This is a really great book and I think that everyone should read it!
Maria Rodale is the CEO of Rodale Inc. a company that was started by her grandfather who was one of the first advocates of organic agriculture in the 1930s and 1940 when organic farming was looked at as being “backwards.” Since then, Rodale Inc, a publishing company and an institute focused on testing organic farming and gardening methods, has grown tremendously. Today they continue to be one of the largest advocates of organic agriculture and the organic lifestyle.
Throughout this book, Rodale describes the current conditions we are in globally; climate change, environmental degradation, contamination, poor human health, and concludes with good reason to that all of these problems can be traced back to “conventional” farming, or modern farming practices which use chemical additives. She describes what she calls “chemical farming” as a cycle; farmers are encouraged to use pesticides which, while harming the pests, also degrade the crop, so they then need more soil inputs, or fertilizers, so they use chemicals which do not actually increase the health of the soil (which is the basic need of healthy plants). This cycle feeds itself and all the while, the soil ecosystem is not getting healthier (something that would actually help the plants grow and fight off pests), the soil is becoming degraded, leading to erosion and water run-off, among other issues. Genetically-engineered organisms just reinforce this cycle. As a result, we are slowly poisoning ourselves and our children. One great thing about this author is that, while she is obviously bias, she explains a lot of very concrete facts, a lot of facts that are hard for the every day person to find. One of my favorites was a link to an interview with the CEO of Monsanto admitting that he, himself buys organic produce! (http://www.marketplace.org/topics/world/interview-transcript-hugh-grant)
Although a lot of these topics may seem all doom and gloom, Rodale does a great job of describing real things that we, the people, can do every day to help fight this battle. The biggest solution to this problem is the organic movement. Rodale explains, in depth, how converting our food systems to being organic will dramatically slow down the degradation we are doing to our Earth. In fact, while our current agriculture system (both crop and animal farming) is one of the biggest contributers of carbon and other green house gases, organic farming actually provides a sink for this gases and absorbs them back into the Earth.
Although Rodale is presenting a lot of information which some may disagree with (I don’t know how you could) and might make some quite emotional (which is the effect it had on me), she continues to be optimistic in the points she is making. I have read too many books about similar issues where this is not the case. Books which discuss the situation we have gotten ourselves into and then not much more and certainly nothing positive. By the time you finish reading Organic Manifesto, you know what to do; support organic! In any way you can; support certified organic and local organic and certified natural farmers (that last one is my opinion). When I closed this book at the end, I was hopeful.
Again, I really think everyone should read this book. No matter what your previous opinions on the issue are, this work will explain to you one side and either support your claims, convert you, or just let you understand an opposing side. I am probably going to try to get my parents to read this one. It will definitely be one of those books that travels with me wherever I move to.