Daphne Miller can't stop thinking about dirt.
Miller, doctor and author of "Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us about Health & Healing" is interested in the connection between farming ecosystems and medicine. She wants us to be "medical ecologists." Instead of thinking about our human bodies in the same way that we once thought about farming -- solely in terms of productivity, fixing individual problems as they arise -- we need to think of our bodies as whole, complex systems.
Miller has become frustrated with the way that modern healthcare often employs "diagnose and conquer" strategy, prescribing medications that may solve a single issue while ignoring root causes. She wanted to find a holistic approach to medicine. And to learn more about the human body's ecosystem, she visited sustainable, bio-dynamic farms all over the country to see how they were faring.
"If you look at farming methods and get more holistic than organic, which is bio-dynamic, you get more microbes," Miller says, "which means more nurients."
Farmers who turn away from conventional farming in favor of holistic methods, Miller has learned, have seen incredible results. Not only can there be a higher financial reward, but there are healthier, happier plans and livestock as a result. And children living on farms hardly ever get allergies. The secret? Raw milk.
"That's what's so interesting," Miller says. "As we lose contact with biodiversity, allergic diseases increase around the world."
Just like we heard from guerilla gardener Ron Finley, (hyperlink here?) Miller believes in the power of urban gardening. But it's not just the product, the vegetables, that are important: the physical act of gardening has a profound impact on those who do it. Urban farming is part of a holistic approach to health -- sunlight, social connection, a sense of purpose, have incredible positive effects on communities.
Last lesson -- chicken stress is similar to human stress. Pastured hens that can run free are able to "form bonds," and "have control." "What's good for the hen is good for us," Miller says. Low-grade, constant stress that even occurs in "free-range, organic" farms is incredibly harmful.
"It's all part of the same system," Miller reminds us. "We are soil."
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