J. I. Rodale
Jerome Irving Rodale
Jerome Irving Cohen
August 16, 1898
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
|Died||June 8, 1971 (aged 72)|
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
|Known for||Organic gardening|
Anna Andrews (m. 1927)
|Children||Robert David Rodale (1930–1990)|
Rodale was an early advocate of sustainable agriculture and organic farming in the United States. As an author, his work included several magazines and books, including books featuring different authors, on the subject of health. He popularized the term "organic" as a term for growing food without pesticides. Rodale also published works on other topics, including The Synonym Finder.
Rodale died after suffering a fatal heart attack on-camera. While appearing as a guest on a segment of The Dick Cavett Show, that subsequently never aired, he slumped back in his seat and became unresponsive. He was taken to Roosevelt Hospital Center and was pronounced dead on arrival at the age of 72.
Rodale was born in Manhattan on August 16, 1898, the son of a grocer, and raised on the Lower East Side. His birth name was Cohen, but presuming it would be a handicap in business, he changed it to a non-Jewish-sounding one. He worked as an accountant for New York City 1917-1920, and worked for the Internal Revenue Service 1920-21. His brother Joseph and he co-founded Rodale Manufacturing, a maker of electrical equipment, in New York in 1923. He married Anna Andrews in 1927, she died in 2000 at 95. and had three children: Robert Rodale (1930–1990), Nina Rodale (who married Robert Hale Horstman and then married Arthur Houghton), and Ruth Rodale. Rodale was already concerned with his health at this time, as he had frequent heart murmurs and had been rejected from the Army in World War I for bad eyesight. To improve his health, he read the works of Bernarr Macfadden and invented an exercising device. The Rodale brothers moved Rodale Manufacturing to Emmaus, Pennsylvania, in 1930 to cut costs during the Depression. He founded Rodale Press in 1930, marketing books and magazines. Inspired by his encounter with the ideas of Albert Howard, Rodale developed an interest in promoting a healthy and active lifestyle that emphasized organically grown foods, and established the Rodale Organic Gardening Experimental Farm in 1940. Rodale Press started publishing Organic Farming and Gardening magazine in 1942. Organic Farming and Gardening promotes organic horticulture; later, the magazine was retitled Organic Gardening. To Rodale, agriculture and health were inseparable. Healthy soil required compost and eschewing pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Eating plants grown in such soil would then help humans stay healthier, he expounded.
One of Rodale's most successful projects was Prevention magazine, founded in 1950, which promotes practices preventing disease rather than trying to cure it later. It pioneered the return to whole grains, unrefined sweets, using little fat in food preparation, folk cures, herbal medicines, and breastfeeding. It also promoted the consumption of higher than typical amounts of nutritional supplements and forgoing nicotine and caffeine. Rodale opposed the consumption of milk and sugar, which he blamed on causing many diseases. He was not a vegetarian and frequently denounced vegetarianism.
Rodale was also a playwright, operating the Cecilwood Theater in Fishkill, New York, and the off-Broadway Rodale Theater at 62 East Fourth Street in the East Village. Rodale's plays included Toinette (1961) and The Hairy Falsetto (1964).
Rodale died of a heart attack at the age of 72 while participating as a guest on an early-evening taping of The Dick Cavett Show slated to be aired that same night, Tuesday, June 8, 1971. Rodale was still on stage, having finished his interview, and was seated on a couch next to the active interviewee, New York Post columnist Pete Hamill. Rodale had stated during his just-completed interview on the show, "I'm in such good health that I fell down a long flight of stairs yesterday and I laughed all the way", "I've decided to live to be a hundred", and "I never felt better in my life!" He had also previously said, "I'm going to live to be 100, unless I'm run down by some sugar-crazed taxi driver."
According to Dick Cavett, Hamill noticed something was wrong with Rodale, leaned over to Cavett, and said, "This looks bad." According to others, Cavett asked, "Are we boring you, Mr. Rodale?" Cavett himself said that he "emphatically" did not recall saying this, but one of the two physicians in the audience did remember this. The physicians (an internist and orthopedic surgeon, both in residency) rushed onto the stage to try to revive Rodale with cardiopulmonary resuscitation, including mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. (During an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson that originally aired on February 5, 1982, Cavett stated "firefighters from across the street" also attended the patient.) Although an electrocardiogram continued to show cardiac activity, they were unsuccessful; Rodale was pronounced dead on arrival at Roosevelt Hospital. The episode was never broadcast, although Cavett has described the story in public appearances and on his blog.
After Rodale's death, his son Robert Rodale ran the publishing firm until his own death in a car accident in 1990. That work included editing the high-circulation Prevention magazine. Robert Rodale had competed in the Olympics in rifle shooting and was inducted into the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame in 1991.
Rodale's granddaughter Maria Rodale became chairman and CEO of Rodale, Inc. She attributes her interest in the organic food movement to growing up on America's first certified organic farm. In October 2017 New York media giant Hearst Corp. announced it would acquire the magazine and book businesses of the 90-year-old Rodale Inc. for an undisclosed price.
Medical experts have described Rodale as a promoter of quackery. For example, Rodale accused sugar of "causing criminals", and blamed various diseases including bronchitis and pneumonia on the consumption of bread. He also believed that consumers of cola drinks would become sterile.
Rodale was an anti-vaccinationist. He also made dubious claims about cancer. In his book Happy People Rarely Get Cancer (1970), Rodale stated that "Negroes get less cancer than whites, for the Negro is a happy race. True, there is their problem of segregation, but the Negro race being what it is, I think a Negro sings just the same, and is not going to let segregation dampen his spirits as much as a similar problem would do to the white person."
It was reported that Rodale took seventy food supplements every day. He was criticized for promoting dubious claims about vitamins supplements. Stephen Barrett of Quackwatch commented that the Prevention magazine was filled with "nonsense promoting dietary supplements... many articles contained therapeutic claims that would be illegal on product labels."
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, noted that the agricultural establishment "dismissed Rodale as a quack, crank, a gadfly, and a manure-pile worshiper."
- Pay Dirt: Farming & Gardening with Composts, 1945.
- The Synonym Finder, 1978. ISBN 978-0-87857-236-6
- How to Grow Vegetables and Fruits by the Organic Method, 1961. OCLC 171305
- The Word Finder, 1947. ISBN 978-0-87857-138-3 OCLC 174829
- The Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening. OCLC 5288851
- Stone Mulching in the Garden.
- The Healthy Hunzas, 1948, Rodale Press, Emmaus, PA. 255 p.
- Are We Really Living Longer?
- Arthritis, Rheumatism, and Your Aching Back.
- Cancer, Facts & Fallacies.
- Happy People Rarely Get Cancer, 1970.
- The Complete Book of Composting.
- The Hairy Falsetto: A One-Act Farcical Social Satire.
- The complete Book of Vitamins, 1966. OCLC 804785
- The natural way to better eyesight 1966.
- The Prostate 1967, Rodale Books, Inc., Emmaus, PA. D-739; Harald Taub, Designer and Editor; Sowers Printing Co., Lebanon, PA.
- Sugar: The Curse of Civilization, 1967.
- Lower your Pulse and Live Longer, 1971.
- Magnesium, the Nutrient that Could Change Your Life, 1978.
- "How J.I. Rodale Started Organic Gardening Magazine - Story told by Patricia Bragg - Interview 1/12"
- The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. James T. White & Company. 1967. pp. 240–241. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
- Parker, Christina M. (October 8, 1991). "Tamaqua Kids' Theater To Drop Final Curtain". The Morning Call. Lehigh Valley. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Nina Rodale Engaged. She Will Be Wed in April to Robert Hale Horstman". New York Times. January 6, 1957. Retrieved 2007-08-21.
The engagement of Miss Nina Rodale to Robert Hale Horstman was announced today by the prospective bride's parents ...
- "J. I. Rodale Dead. Organic Farmer. Espoused the Avoidance of Chemical Fertilizers". New York Times. June 8, 1971. Retrieved 2007-08-21.
JI Rodale, Whose enthusiasm for organic farming (avoiding chemical fertilizers) brought him fame and fortune in recent years through his and books, ...
- "Robert Rodale interview Part 1". YouTube. Alternative Farming Systems Information Center. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
- "Physical-exercising device (Patent US1707449)". US Patent Office. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
- "Rodale: Brief History". Rodale Press. Retrieved 2007-08-26.
On September 20, 1990, Bob Rodale was killed in a traffic accident in Russia. He was there to develop plans for a long-term joint venture agreement. The first project completed was Novii Fermer, a Russian magazine devoted to sustainable agriculture. Upon Bob's death, his wife, Ardath, became Chief Executive Officer/Chairman of the Board.
- "National Historic Landmarks & National Register of Historic Places in Pennsylvania" (Searchable database). CRGIS: Cultural Resources Geographic Information System. Note: This includes Tim Noble; Shelby Weaver Splain (November 1998). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Rodale Organic Gardening Experimental Farm" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-05.
- Greene, Wade. (1971). "Guru of the Organic Food Cult". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
- Calta, Louis (January 13, 1962). "Rodale Will Open Intimate Theatre. Playwright Buys Building Also Plans Acting School". New York Times.
J.I. Rodale, playwright, editor, author and publisher, has bought the three-story structure at 62 East Fourth Street to convert it into an intimate playhouse, theatre workshop and acting school.
- Cavett, Dick (May 3, 2007). "When That Guy Died on My Show". New York Times. Retrieved 2018-03-10.
I brought out the next guest, Pete Hamill, whose column ran in the New York Post. Rodale moved 'down one' to the couch. As Pete and I began to chat, Mr. Rodale suddenly made a snoring sound, which got a laugh. Comics would sometimes do that for a laugh while another comic was talking, pretending boredom. His head tilted to the side as Pete, in closeup as it happened, whispered audibly, 'This looks bad.' The audience laughed at that. I didn't, because I knew Rodale was dead. To this day, I don't know how I knew. I thought, 'Good God, I'm in charge here. What do I do?' Next thing I knew I was holding his wrist, thinking, I don't know anything about what a wrist is supposed to feel like.
- Greene, Wade (June 6, 1971). "Guru of the Organic Food Cult". New York Times Magazine. Retrieved 2007-08-21.
'I'm going to live to be 100,' says the author of Natural Health, Sugar and the Criminal Mind, 'unless I'm run down by a sugar-crazed taxi driver.' ...
- Harden, Mike (July 23, 2003). "Lights Off, Pounds Off ..." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. C2.
Organic-food crusader Jerome Rodale once boasted, "I will live to be 100 unless I'm run down by a sugar-crazed taxi driver." ...
- Frater, Jamie (2010). Listverse.Com's Ultimate Book of Bizarre Lists. Canada: Ulysses Press. p. 400. ISBN 9781569758175..
- Eric White, MD, was one of the physicians present.
- Fowler, Glenn (September 21, 1990). "Robert Rodale, 60, Dies in Crash. Publisher Backed Organic Farms". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-26.
Robert Rodale, an exponent of organic farming and the head of a publishing empire whose magazines dealt with subjects like gardening, health and fitness, died yesterday in an automobile accident in Moscow. He was 60 years old and lived in Emmaus, Pa.
- Maria's Farm Country Kitchen
- Deutsch, Ronald M. (1977). The New Nuts Among the Berries. Bull Publishing Company. pp. 305-309. ISBN 978-0915950089
- Barrett, Stephen; Jarvis, William T. (1993). The Health Robbers: A Close Look at Quackery in America. Prometheus Books. pp. 382–384. ISBN 0-87975-855-4
- McGrath, Maria. (2014). "The Bizarre Life (and Death) of “Mr. Organic”". The New Republic. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
- Smith, Andrew F. (2012). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Volume 1. Oxford University Press. p. 148. ISBN 9780199734962
- Jackson, Carlton. J.I. Rodale: Apostle of Nonconformity. (New York: Pyramid Books, 1973). This biography details most of the material in the article above.
- Perényi, Eleanor. "Apostle of the Compost Heap". Saturday Evening Post, 16 July 1966: 30-33.