03 January 2008

The Death of Jerome Irving Rodale

Jerome Irving Rodale was the founding father of the organic food movement.

Jerome popularised the term "organic" to mean grown without pesticides which are poisonous to humans–and meeting other health and safety standards.

Jerome was also a playwright, editor, author and publisher, founding a publishing empire with several magazines, and many books; some of his own and those of others, on health. Rodale was first to publish The South Beach Diet Book.

Rodale Press remains one of the world's largest publishers of health and fitness related books and magazines. Rodale publishes Prevention Magazine, Men's Health, Women's Health, Organic Gardening, and Runner's World.

Jerome was born in New York City, the son of a grocer, and he grew up on the Lower East Side.

While no one knows for sure where Jerome got his interest in nutrition, it probably came in part from his experiences with childhood illnesses and the fact his father was a grocer.

His early education was in accounting and for a time Jerome was a tax auditor for the government. He then went into the electrical-equipment business with his brother.

As the electrical business thrived, Jerome took his share of the profits and began Rodale Press. His first publishing products included a humour magazine, several health magazines and "The Rodale Book of Etiquette."

In 1941, Jerome happened onto the writings of a British agronomist named Sir Albert Howard that would set the direction of his personal and business interests for the remainder of his life.

Jerome died of a heart attack on the set of The Dick Cavett Show.

After finishing his interview, Jerome was doing the typical talk show thing, sitting on the couch next to the following guest being interviewed, New York Post columnist Pete Hamill.

According to Dick Cavett, Hamill noticed something was wrong with Jerome, leaned over to Cavett and said, "This looks bad."

Ironically, Jerome had bragged moments earlier during his interview that he was in "such good health" that he "fell down a long flight of stairs yesterday and laughed all the way". He continued, "I’ve decided to live to be a hundred", as well as the inevitable "I never felt better in my life!"

Jerome had also just bragged that "I'm going to live to be 100, unless I'm run down by some sugar-crazed taxi driver."

While Cavett was discussing politics with Pete Hamill, Jerome's head dropped to his chest and he was heard to let out what sounded like a snore.

"Are we boring you, Mr. Rodale?" asked Cavett.

There was no response — Rodale was dead. The show was never broadcast.

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