Maria Rodale


Long before it was even a talking point, the Rodale family was championing the importance of organic and real food. Hailing from the “first family of organic”, Maria carries on her family’s mission as CEO of Rodale Inc. Her new book SCRATCH, shares the recipes that shaped her life as she grew up on America’s first organic farm.

What would an ideal day of food look like to you?

I’d start with 2 cups of black organic coffee while relaxing on my couch. Breakfast would be 2 organic eggs from our farm, fried or scrambled with butter, organic bacon and fresh organic in-season fruit. Lunch would be an organic salad packed with fresh vegetables and protein like cheese, beans or ham (or all three!) dressed with a red wine vinaigrette and a bowl of soup. In mid afternoon I’d love an organic flat white! Maybe some milk chocolate with caramel or peanut butter. And dinner is something hearty, organic and homemade like roast organic chicken with crispy skin and pan gravy (I get the wings!), some rice or mashed potatoes, in season steamed veggies and another salad. For dessert I love fruit and cheese. Maybe with some nuts and jam. And water. Lots of ice water all day!


What is your favorite ingredient for both beauty and wellness?

Coconut Oil. It’s the only moisturizer I use. And I also use it to cook and bake. My favorite thing ever is homemade popcorn made with coconut oil and dosed with melted butter and salt.


What are some of your go-to spots in NYC?

For eating in my neighborhood: Cookshop, Company, Foragers Market, Morimoto. For eating in other hoods: ABC Kitchen and Cocina, Omen and Balvanera (which is near my friend’s gallery: TOTAH), Bruno’s Pizza, Hatsuhana in midtown for traditional Japanese.

For beauty: I’ve been getting my hair cut by the same guy, Pancho, for 25 years. He now works at the Warren Tricomi Salon in the Plaza Hotel. I love him!


Do you feel like the world is becoming more mindful about buying organic food?

Absofrickinglutely. You have to remember that when I was a child the only way to get organic food was to grow your own, and we were considered weird for doing that! Now the biggest issue is that there are not enough organic farmers to keep up with the consumer demand for organic. We need more organic farmers! Organic food isn’t considered weird anymore. More and more, people seek out organic food because it is healthy and delicious. It is just the best way to eat but we need to make it the norm.


What does the concept of “real” food mean to you?

“Real food” means food that comes directly from nature and minimally processed. As my friend Kimbal Musk says: “Real food is nourishing to our bodies, the farmers and the planet.” To me, that also means it is organic.


What inspires you in the kitchen?

Tastes I’ve experienced in my travels, food stories I’ve heard from friends and strangers. I love to ask people about their favorite foods growing up and experiment with cooking every day meals from around the world. I also love to make things as simple as possible.


Does traveling and learning about different cultures influence your outlook on wellness?

Most definitely! I love to travel. And I also love to observe and research how people live, how they live longer and what makes people happy. What I’ve learned is that living a joyful life with happy, healthy relationships is so much more important than eating a specific regimented diet or being an obsessive exerciser. But I’ve also learned that each person is very, very different and needs to find their own path to health and happiness! There is no ONE way.


What is one common misconception people have about organic food you wish to set straight?

When I was a kid people thought organic food was tofu and carrot sticks. Even growing up, organic was confused with “no fat, no flavor health food.” And hear this, the USDA Certified Organic label is the only food in America (and around the world) that goes through a rigorous inspection process and is held accountable to certain very high standards that are constantly monitored by an independent board. It’s the organic standard you can trust.


How do you create a balance between work, wellness, and family?

I make sure to schedule in my wellness and family first, and build work around that. For example, I have a monthly massage and mani-pedi and weekly yoga built into my schedule. Then I always try to get home in time to make dinner. Dinner is the special time of day when whoever is around comes together, sits down, talks and laughs and enjoys the nourishing comfort of family and food cooked with love.


What’s the best advice you have ever received?

What’s stopping you? Usually, we get in our own way too much, over think things, doubt, wait for permission. I tell people all the time, don’t wait for permission! If you see something that needs to be done just do it!


Name three women who inspire you the most?

Joan of Arc. She totally rocked it. Read Mark Twain’s book about her. Amazing. Patti Smith. Rock star. Poet. Fiercely true to herself. Great writer! Maria Von Trapp. My namesake and so many things about her to love.


If you could invite anyone over for a home cooked meal, who would it be and what would you make?

I would invite Bruce Springsteen but I would NOT make lasagna, because apparently his mother’s lasagna is amazing and I don’t want to compete with that. But I might make something authentically Italian and that would probably be my Abruzzi Fish Stew. That is if he likes fish. I always check to see what people can and can’t eat before I have them over.


Has the rise of Instagram and the amazing food photography that goes with it impacted the way we cook and share food?

Yes. I think it’s made people so much more aware of all the different kinds of foods and food cultures in the world (and here in America as well). And it’s created more of a desire to cook, and to re-learn the lost arts, of BBQ, of pickling and preserving. I think it’s wonderful and inspiring.


What does beauty is wellness and wellness is beauty mean to you?

I always say beauty comes from the inside out (not the outside in). It has to do with specifics like eating super fresh and organic vegetables and fruits and lots of fat! But mainly it has to do with a feeling you cultivate inside yourself, of joy, of love, of confidence and passion. Many people look beautiful and gorgeous, but they can still struggle to feel and be happy. Happiness is the most beautiful thing of all and it’s available to everyone.

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