Paper or plastic? Diesel or hybrid? Bottled or tap water? Ever since the devastating implications of global climate change came to light, concerned consumers have struggled to understand the implications of our everyday decisions. Often these questions lack clear-cut answers, and on a global scale the impact of such small choices can seem unimportant. On one issue, however, the answer is unequivocal, the ramifications far-reaching and significant: We must demand organic.
Maria Rodale, a third-generation advocate for organic farmers and farming practices, knows that the widespread use of chemicals on farms throughout the United States, and increasingly in other countries, causes more damage to our fragile environment than the burning of fossil fuels or the eradication of our rain forests. Moreover, by poisoning both our land and our waterways with harmful chemicals, we are jeopardizing our very health--and that of our children. How can we reverse this frightening trend? We must demand organic.
Drawing on research from the prestigious Rodale Institute, leading health researchers, and conversations with chemical farmers from coast to coast, Maria Rodale traces the genesis of chemical farming and the rise of the immense companies that profit from farmers' reliance on chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and genetically modified seeds. She also brings to light the government's role in allow such practices (and the companies that profit from them) to flourish without regulation. She explains that modern organic farming would not only help reverse climate change by helping to reduce harmful carbon emissions but would also improve the quality of the food we eat and ensure a betty quality of life in farming communities nationwide.
Granddaughter to Rodale's founder, and its current CEO, the author offers a passionate, evenhanded, nonacademic argument for the overall wisdom-economical and ecological-for farming organic. Deeply aware of the public confusion and suspicion surrounding organic farming as a "hippie" cause, Rodale first persuades readers that years of chemical and pesticide use have poisoned our environment-not hard to do, considering elevated cancer levels, increases in asthma, and fertility disorders, among other afflictions attributed to environmental factors. Rodale places blame for U.S. reliance on chemical-saturated farming, especially employing the use of genetically modified seeds, mostly on powerful chemical companies' manipulative advertising doublespeak, but also on government protection of conventional farmers. In her strongest section delineating "a year in the life of a chemical farmer," Rodale shares clarifying findings from her own focus group that these farmers become dependent on chemical companies for their products and can't see another way, even when costs keep going up, soil is depleted, and yields decrease. In the end, Rodale does a vigorous job of debunking myths plaguing both sides. (May) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
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March 15, 2010
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