Episode 14

Season 2

Episode 14_This Is Rodale Institute SHOW NOTES


Jeff Tkach of Rodale Institute

Website: https://rodaleinstitute.org/

Recommended Further Reading:

Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change A Down-to-Earth Solution to Global Warming (Rodale Institute White Paper)

Our Soil Will Save Us by Kristen Olson

Growing a Revolution by David Montgomery

Kiss the Ground: How the Food You Eat Can Reverse Climate Change, Heal Your Body & Ultimately Save Our World by Jeff Tickell

Habit Change:  Vote with your forks! Eat organic, even if it requires budgeting a little differently, because how you eat can change the world.

Episode Summary by the Minute:

Minute 1:00: Jeff tells us about the origin of the Rodale Institute, why J.I. Rodale founded it, and what their research focuses on: showing that chemical-free agriculture can grow even better yields.

Minute 3:00: Rodale has orchards, side-by-side corn and soybeans, pastured pork, etc. And they share this research with farmers around the world to encourage them to transition based on this controlled environment and the results they are able to achieve.  

Minute 6:30: Farming field trials done by Rodale have been replicated in five places aroudn the US and all of the results are coming back the same. Organic has equivalent yields as conventional, except in drought and heavy rain seasons, in which case organic does 31% better.

Minute 13:00: Rodale is setting up regional regenerative hubs around the world to serve effectively as an organic extension agent in farmers’ “local” communities.  The first couple are in Cedar Rapids and Austria.

Minute 16:45: Jeff describes what a typical regenerative organic farming system looks like. Healthy Soil = healthy food = healthy people has become Rodale’s foundation.  Sustainable is not the best way to describe their farming system because they are trying to go beyond sustaining the land, but actually rebuilding the soil over time.

Minute 23:00: How prescriptive is the new “regenerative organic” standard? Is it a sliding scale? Every farmer farms a little differently, and the goal is to encourage them to push toward these better practices--effectively to raise the bar for farming standards.

Minute 25:45: Jeff explains who will host the “regenerative organic” standard, and whether it will be more costly/onerous for farmers to qualify.  Rodale has designed the standard in conjunction with other certifying bodies, with the hope that it encompasses other standards and becomes the only one that is necessary.

Minute 30:00: How do we drive greater adoption of these practices?  What will drive more farmers to apply these principles? Consumers, voting with their dollars, will advance these objectives.

Minute 32:00: Rodale is working with Penn State Hershey Medical and other partners on research about how healthy soils translate to healthier food and healthier people. One example is Ergothioneine, an amino acid.  A decrease in that amino acid is directly linked to an increase in lung cancer.  Purple potatoes have the highest amount of this amino acid.

Minute 37:00: Even though we might be increasing yields, we’re not increasing the amount of nutrients per acre, so we’re just making less nutrient-dense food.

Minute 38:00: Organic food consumption in US is up to 6%. Almost $50 billion industry in the US.

Minute 39:00: Jeff is the Chief Growth Officer for Rodale Institute, and he hopes to see the organization grow in staff significantly over the next 2-3 years.

Minute 41:00: Follow their website, donate if you can, become a member of J.I. Rodale Institue Leadership Society, follow them on social media, join their email list, and come visit!

Minute 43:00: Some book recs from Jeff. See above!

Minute 45:00: A habit change you can adopt--eat organic and vote with your dollars! Maybe some day we can eat in restaurants that only serve organic.

Erin Delawalla