Organic Manifesto: Maria Rodale’s Unflinching Look at the Perilous State of Farming in America & A Call to Action…

Maria Rodale’s Organic Manifesto, (available at Barnes & Noble today)

Last year, when a friend of mine insisted that I rent and watch “King Corn”, I put my name on a long waiting list, even though I am not one to get overly excited about documentaries. I’d heard about the film of course, and after watching “Food, Inc.”, I knew that a deeper look at American agriculture -particularly corn production- would be sobering. After watching both films, I began to seriously doubt the integrity of many government-run institutions and policies, which I’d always assumed benefitted American farmers, and protected us as consumers. So when Kristin, my editor at Barnes & Noble, sent me an advance copy of Maria Rodale’s Organic Manifesto, I thought I was already fairly well informed. I was wrong. This book was a real eye-opener, and I hope you will take the time to read my review of the book for Barnes & Noble at their Garden Variety blog linked here.

Both “Food, Inc.” and “King Corn” are must-see films, but as important as these documentaries are, I urge you to read Maria Rodale’s Organic Manifesto. Better yet, (if you can afford it), order a copy for yourself, and then drop it off as a donation to your local library for others to read. I think it’s that important. Rodale’s new book, with an introduction written by Eric Scholosser, takes a deeper look at some of the issues touched upon in “Food, Inc.” and “King Corn”. This throughly researched exposé bravely explores both the history and the environmental consequences of chemical, (aka “conventional”), farming, and offers realistic, organic alternatives. Do we really need man-made fertilizers and toxic chemicals to grow food, or is this a myth created by the multi-million dollar companies benefitting from this government-supported system? Rodale calls the public to action in her manifesto, urging us to act on the most basic level: demand organic produce.

Have you seen “King Corn” and “Food, Inc.”? Have they changed the way you look at farming in America?

Buy “King Corn” –  from Barnes & Noble

Buy “King Corn” –  from

Buy “Food, Inc.”  –  from Barnes & Noble

Buy “Food, Inc.” –  from


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4 Replies to “Organic Manifesto: Maria Rodale’s Unflinching Look at the Perilous State of Farming in America & A Call to Action…”

  1. Gloria E. Bengtson

    See also Fresh, the movie by ana Sofia joanes.

    FRESH celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Each has witnessed the rapid transformation of our agriculture into an industrial model, and confronted the consequences: food contamination, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources, and morbid obesity. Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision for a future of our food and our planet.

    Among several main characters, FRESH features urban farmer and activist, Will Allen, the recipient of MacArthur’s 2008 Genius Award; sustainable farmer and entrepreneur, Joel Salatin, made famous by Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma; and supermarket owner, David Ball, challenging our Wal-Mart dominated economy.

  2. Deb Weyrich-Cody

    Hi Michaela,

    I grew up reading my father’s copies of “Prevention”, “Organic Gardening” and “Harrowsmith” magazines as a kid and was greatly saddened as they all, one by one, have faded and/or disappeared altogether.

    I am glad to see that Maria Rodale has returned to her roots and I’m sure her Grandfather is smiling now as well.

  3. Michaela

    Hello Gloria, Thank you for visiting TGE and for your thoughtful suggestions. I have not seen ‘Fresh’, but given your recommendation, I will make it a priority. Last night, as I was listening to NPR, there was an ad from Monsanto on the radio. This ad used the word “sustainable” to describe their agricultural goals and model. I was horrified. One of the new tactics, it seems, is to co-op the language of organic growers. Insidious and dangerous to us all. This is why it is so important that we work together to inform the public, and fight to standardize labeling and descriptive words. If Monsanto is “sustainable”, then what does sustainable mean anymore? Thank you again Gloria, I so appreciate the thoughtful commentary offered by readers here. This is what I’d hoped for. I hope you will stop by again.
    Best, Michaela

    Hi Deb, Like you I am very fond of Rodale publications. Organic Gardening Magazine seems to be getting a nice, sail-filling wind with the renewed interest in gardening. It is still published by the Rodale family, along with their extraordinary collection of organic gardening books, (some of my favorites are the Fern Marshall Bradley titles, often mentioned here). I know Maria’s grandfather and father are both proud of her, and the entire Rodale family. Writing this book was a brave move for Maria. Monsanto, Dow and the other big chemical companies have long, powerful arms. She is doing what she needs to do: fight them with hard science, and prove them wrong.
    Thanks for all of your wonderful comments. I always look forward to your replies.
    xo Michaela

  4. Deb Weyrich-Cody

    Hi Michaela,
    Since reading your reply I went and checked out “OrganIc Gardening” online. (I was a subscriber several years ago when it had been discontinued, so thanks for the “heads up”.) It’s nice to see that it’s been resurrected. Kudos to all who are creating the demand for knowledge and getting involved with feeding themselves well… “The best offence is a good defence.” xo Deb

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