Friday, February 14, 2014

Farmers As Healers

I sat in a packed meeting room to spend some time with Daphne Miller, M.D. last week. The audience was a roomful of farmer-types, gathered for the opening keynote of PASA's 23rd Annual Farming For The Future Conference in State College.

Dr. Miller has most recently published her second book "Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing" that was the focus for her highly-engaging talk.

In researching her book, she spent time at seven sustainable family farms around the country - including time with one of my heroes, Wendell Berry (see blog post from January 2014).

She says, "The more I learned about the science of farming, the more I recognized its connections to medicine. For example, did you know that our gut physiology actually mirrors what happens in the soil? The intricate nutrient exchange between soil, microbe and plant is like the dance that takes place in our intestine, involving the mucosal lining, resident microbes and food (plants and animals). The biochemical makeup of soil also roughly matches ours, with a similar nitrogen-to-carbon ratio and the same range for normal pH (6.0 to 7.5). In fact, the carbon, nitrogen and every other mineral and vitamin building block in our body is derived from soil (via our food)."
She continues, "In other words, we are not simply nourished by the soil, we are of the soil! So, starting from that premise, it stands to reason that we should care for our bodies in the same way that a mindful farmer cares for the soil. And, of course, we should treat our farms and soil as if they are an extension of our body."
Dr. Daphne (as she is called by her patients at a busy Family Practice office in San Francisco) organized her talk around five health lessons to illustrate connections between health and soil. Her Health Lessons included:
  • Farm As Vitamin
  • Farm As Immune Support
  •  Farm As Community
  • Farm As A Model For Cancer Care
  • Farm As A Model For Stress Reduction
Dr. Daphne was interviewed during the PASA Conference by Patty Satalia from WPSU and that interview will air this afternoon (Friday, February 14) at 1:00 p.m., repeating at 1:30 a.m. Saturday and 7:00 a.m. Sunday. WPSU is heard in our area at 90.1 FM.

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