Putting Vonderplanitz, and Conspiracies, to Rest; Comments Commentary
In death, as in life, food rights advocate and nutritionist Aajonus Vonderplanitz continues to stir up controversy. Now, it’s over his death, and whether he died as detailed by a number of witnesses, including his girlfriend in Thailand, in an accident.
I spoke yesterday with Larry Otting, a close friend of Vonderplanitz from Los Angeles. Otting reported that he had recently returned fromThailand, where he helped straighten out the affairs of of his friend, whom he is convinced died in a fall earlier this month.
Vonderpanitz, according to Otting, was cremated Friday in Thailand. It had been his wish to be laid to rest in that country, where he had a farm in a remote area in the north of the country, not far from the border of Laos (in addition to the Philippines, where he also owned a farm). Because Vonderplanitz had little in the way of close family, Otting had taken it upon himself to travel to Thailand and straighten out Vonderplanitz’s affairs. This included paying workers at the farm, which produced a variety of tropical fruits and veggies, and retrieving his body for cremation.
Otting told me that Vonderplanitz had had the farm house physically moved some years ago to its current location. That might have explained why the balcony from which Vonderplanitz fell was in such poor condition. “It was twenty feet up. It should have been two feet up. Aajonus leaned against a railing and fell. The railing was just held together with a few nails.” The fall broke Vonderplanitz’s back and left him paralyzed. He died a few days later at an area hospital.
Otting said he viewed his friend’s body, and found it to be well preserved, given the tropical conditions. He was still wrapped in cloth, “almost like a mummy,” that he had requested of hospital staff to stabilize his body, when he was brought to the hospital. Otting said he was asked not to take photos of his friend's body because it is a violation of Thai customs. Otting arranged for an autopsy, and results aren’t yet known. But Otting has little doubt that what the doctors at the hospital told him is likely true--that Vonderplanitz died from internal bleeding after he refused recommendations to have extensive x-rays taken and possibly carry out surgery to try to repair the internal damage.
When I asked Otting why Vonderplanitz would not have agreed to the proposed approach, he said, “It was against his philosophy. He believed in natural approaches.” This included wrapping his body and being fed butter and honey to help fight the shock to his body from the fall.
Because of Vonderplanitz’s run-ins with government authorities over food rights, there has been discussion on Facebook and elsewhere that somehow the nutritionist was sabotaged by enemies. Otting said that, based on what he saw, Vonderplanitz almost certainly died from injuries from the unfortunate accident.
Wisconsin farmer Vernon Hershberger, who used Vonderplanitz’s leasing model for his private food club, has published several photos from the accident site, showing the broken balcony railing, along with a tribute to his food club mentor. Hershberger also includes a photo of himself with Vonderplanitz at a rally supporting the farmer in his battle with Wisconsin agriculture authorities (shown above).
I sure hope the death of Vonderplanitz doesn’t become one of those ongoing conspiracy subjects, like that of Jonestown (per discussion following my previous post).
I was intrigued by the piece Ora Moose linked to in The Atlantic about how Popular Science had banned comments on its site.
More to the point, I was intrigued by the comments following the piece. There are lots of them, and a number are quite incisive about the entire Internet comment phenomenon. They are worth a scroll through.
As I read through the comments and the different kinds of scenarios people identified, I realized that we’ve seen it all at this site in its nearly eight years. I actually take it as a compliment when readers say they read this blog more for the comments than for what I write.
That’s because I see what goes on here, despite the personal accusations, spam, misinformation, racism, and other distractions, as more often than not being constructive. The tone has changed for the more constructive as all of us have become more informed and savvy.
I’ve certainly been tempted at times to change the comment format, and while I’ve introduced a few controls, it remains nearly entirely unedited, uncensored...and provocative. I like to think they've been a positive force.