MUIH recently had the pleasure of welcoming Maria Rodale—author, activist, and CEO and president of Rodale Inc.—to campus for a lecture and book signing. Rodale Inc. is the largest publisher of health, wellness, and environmental content and the largest book publisher in the U.S., and Maria is part of the 3rd generation of the Rodale family dedicated to wellness.
Maria is a woman who truly embodies and exemplifies MUIH’s core values of discernment, inquisitiveness, and integrity. If you weren’t able to make it to the event in person, here are some of the key takeaways from her lecture:
1. The momentum of the organic farming counterculture in the 60s and 70s led to greater science and research in the decades to follow.
- In the early 20th century, about 40% of the working class U.S. was farmers. Seeking to reverse the perpetual problems of agriculture—erosion, soil depletion, etc.—farmers began subscribing to a holistic notion that the health of a nation built on agriculture is dependent on the long-tern health of its soil. In the 1960s, organic became part of the counter-culture movement as public awareness about chemicals in farming and food gained traction. As an “alternative approach” quickly gaining support through the 1970s, organic farming lacked backing of hard science and, rather, relied on public demand for non-chemically modified food. In the 1980’s, after years of advocating the use of synthetic agricultural chemicals, the USDA began to advocate for research into the conversion of organic wastes that farmers could then use to increase fertility and restore soil structure. This led to increase studies and funding, turning organic farming into the widely accepted and requested practice it is today.
2. If every acre in the world went to organic, we could mitigate the effects of global warming.
- In 2014, the Rodale Institute, the U.S.’s oldest nonprofit organic-farming research institution, published an analysis of organic farming research. The review concluded that “If every piece of cropland on earth and every acre of animal pasture were converted to organic methods, we could not only stop climate change in its tracks, but we could reverse it.” How? It all comes down to the soil. Rather than allowing excessive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as damaging farming practices do, healthy, organic soil holds onto it and allows the soil to become nutrient-dense.
3. The old paradigm is that the body is a machine. Now, we are coming to see and understand how the body is a complex living organism.
- From formerly standard thought lines of efficiency, more is better, “there’s a pill to fix that,” and technology trumps, a newer and more holistic mode of thinking is taking hold. The paradigm shift from viewing the body as a machine—which can be simplified down to its individual parts, uniform across all iterations—comes with a greater understanding of human nuances, whole-person integrative medicine, and the mind-body-spirit connection. The landscape of health and healing is evolving to include organic farming, consumption of real food, prioritizing nourishment, body love and acceptance, and taking responsibility over ourselves and our choices.
4. Everyone has the power to contribute to or solve the problem.
- By taking responsibility over our bodies and our choices, we all have the power to choose health or choose the alternative. We can support organic agriculture, or we can support processed foods. We can add our voices to the rallying cry for body acceptance and love, or we can quietly shrink into the background. We can choose to educate ourselves or remain in the shadow of ignorance. Every day we all have myriad choices to make, and the impact of these choices can be for the better or for the worse.