"If you do just one thing -- make one conscious choice -- that can change the world, go organic.... No other single choice you can make to improve the health of your family and the planet will have greater positive repercussions for our future."
That's a bold statement. Is eating organic more important than avoiding meat, stopping coal plants, biking instead of driving or donating to worthy causes?
Yes, declares Maria Rodale, the CEO of the Rodale Inc. publishing empire (Mens Health, Prevention, Runners World) and author of the aptly named Organic Manifesto: How Organic Food Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World and Keep Us Safe (Rodale Books), from which the quote is drawn.
"There's so many benefits that come from that one choice," Maria explains. "You've removed a bajillion pounds of dangerous, synthetic, disease-causing environment-destroying chemicals from the soil, the water our bodies. We would all immediately be healthier. Our children would be healthier."
Farmers and their families and farm workers would be better off, too, she goes on: "And our kids would be smarter. There are actually studies that show that a lot of these chemicals do reduce intelligence."
I arranged a phone interview with Maria after meeting her last spring during Cooking for Solutions, a great conference and food fest on sustainable agriculture and fishing organized by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I'd read her book and wanted to delve deeper into the issues surrounding organics. Tomorrow, I'll offer a dissenting view from Steve Savage, an agricultural consultant who is dubious about many of Maria's claims.