When Organic Farming and Gardening magazine was launched in May 1942, the global chemical revolution was just beginning to claim conventional agriculture as its own. Only a few voices warned of the dangers—to our health, to our environment, and to our future.
J.I. Rodale, the founder of the American organic movement and Organic Gardening magazine and my grandfather, held firm in his belief that organic agriculture was essential to our health and survival, even as he was called a quack, a charlatan, and a revolutionary. Back then, if you believed that organic food was important, your only choice was to grow it yourself. Organic Gardening (he dropped “Farming” from the title in 1943, only to bring it back later) was your essential guide.
Over the years, Organic Gardening rode the waves of social movements. It became a hippie bible in the late 1960s. It fueled the search for self-sufficiency during the energy crisis of the 1970s. And in the 1980s, it became the friendly companion to the last of the original Victory Gardeners.
Seventy-three years later, there is a USDA-administered label to identify certified-organic food. There are 360 Whole Foods Markets that offer an organic bounty to shoppers in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. And where once farmer’s markets were disappearing, they are back, providing direct and easy access to local organic growers. Organic has become a lifestyle and a set of values, not just a way to grow food.
Scientific evidence now points to the benefits of organic—to our health, to the environment, to ending climate change (organic agriculture stores carbon), and to our survival as a species. Even the United Nations is calling for an end to “conventional” agriculture. The consumer demand for organic food and fiber actually exceeds the supply and is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy. In a time when not much else is growing, organic is growing strong!
J.I. Rodale’s original phrase “healthy soil, healthy food, healthy people” has never been more urgently true, which is why we are relaunching Organic Gardening magazine as Rodale’s Organic Life. Organic is now about so much more than gardening; it’s about your whole life—your home, your health, and our future together on this beautiful, amazing Earth.
The first issue of Rodale’s Organic Life (out in April 2015) will be a giant leap forward toward making your whole life healthier, happier, and more organic than ever! We’ve been working hard on the transition and know that you will love all of the new features and information. Until then, you can continue to find all the great information about your garden—and recipes for those tomatoes you are going to grow again this year—online at OrganicGardening.com. (You can look for these topics and more in the pages of Rodale’s Organic Life, too.)
Originally published in Organic Gardening magazine’s Special Collector’s Issue, February/March 2015.