Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing

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Overview

What can good farming teach us about nurturing ourselves?

Family physician Daphne Miller long suspected that farming and medicine were intimately linked. Increasingly disillusioned by mainstream medicine's mechanistic approach to healing and fascinated by the farming revolution that is changing the way we think about our relationship to the earth, Miller left her medical office and traveled to seven innovative family farms around the country, on a quest to discover the hidden ...

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Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing

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Overview

What can good farming teach us about nurturing ourselves?

Family physician Daphne Miller long suspected that farming and medicine were intimately linked. Increasingly disillusioned by mainstream medicine's mechanistic approach to healing and fascinated by the farming revolution that is changing the way we think about our relationship to the earth, Miller left her medical office and traveled to seven innovative family farms around the country, on a quest to discover the hidden connections between how we care for our bodies and how we grow our food. Farmacology, the remarkable book that emerged from her travels, offers us a compelling new vision for sustainable health and healing—and a wealth of farm-to-body lessons with immense value in our daily lives.

Miller begins her journey with a pilgrimage to the Kentucky homestead of renowned author and farming visionary Wendell Berry. Over the course of the following year, she travels to a biodynamic farm in Washington state, a ranch in the Ozarks, two chicken farms in Arkansas, a winery in California, a community garden in the Bronx, and finally an aromatic herb farm back in Washington. While learning from forward-thinking farmers, Miller explores such compelling questions as:

  • What can rejuvenating depleted soil teach us about rejuvenating ourselves?
  • How can a grazing system on a ranch offer valuable insights into raising resilient children?
  • What can two laying-hen farms teach us about stress management?
  • How do vineyard pest-management strategies reveal a radically new approach to cancer care?
  • What are the unexpected ways that urban agriculture can transform the health of a community?
  • How can an aromatic herb farm unlock the secret to sustainable beauty?

Throughout, Miller seeks out the perspectives of noted biomedical scientists and artfully weaves in their insights and research, along with stories from her own medical practice. The result is a profound new approach to healing, combined with practical advice for how to treat disease and maintain wellness.

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Editorial Reviews

Michael Pollan
“What does the practice of sustainable agriculture have to teach modern medicine? What are the links between soil health and the health of the people who eat from that soil?…A highly original and compelling work of exploration with large implications for our understanding of health.”
Booklist
“Farmacology…explains how sustainable farms serve as a model for a healthy human body…Soil is the star of this story. Its vigor is clearly connected to the vitality of the plants, animals, and human beings it supports…Think like a farmer, and you’ll likely cultivate better personal health.”
Alice Waters
“Dr. Miller’s wit, compassion, and willingness to learn from the people who take care of the land make this a vibrant and important book. It is about so much more than just personal well-being; it is about the health of our food, our farms and farmers-the entire planet.”
Carlo Petrini
“In Farmacology, Daphne Miller expands the field of medicine from the classical boundaries of the symptom-cure concept toward a more complex and holistic approach that takes into account the tight balance between Man and Nature.”
Marion Nestle
“An eloquent call for better systems of sustainable agriculture and humanistic health care. . . . lovely, touching, and sometimes quite funny. [Miller’s] insight: both soil and people do better when treated as complex systems, not fragments. This is a fresh, original, and utterly charming book.”
Dr. Andrew Weil
“[Here] explorer and integrative physician Daphne Miller learns the principles of best farming practices and considers their applicability to medicine. Her observations are revealing and inspiring, offering a vision of new and more effective treatments for a variety of human ailments, from allergies to cancer. A rewarding read.”
Lou Fancher
“Sustainable agriculture and holistic medical practice find each other as soul mates…The issues raised deal with profound economic, social and cultural dilemmas…and Miller’s hearty, personable writing style makes it a good read for travelers, lovers of character studies and medical and farming professionals alike.”
Raj Patel
“[Daphne Miller is] such a fearless, intelligent, and charming guide on the food-filled journey between medical and ecological sciences that by the end of Farmacology you won’t just think that medical ecology is fascinating—you’ll wonder how we managed to live without it for so long.”
Acres U.S.A.
Miller’s journey begins in serendipity and remains alive to surprise…[The] web of associations…will surprise even those [who know] that healthy soils make for healthy people. It’s startling to think that few if any doctor-authors have attempted this hybrid of field work…patient case histories…and conversations with scientists.
San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle bestseller
Orion Magazine
Some of Miller’s discoveries are simple, others groundbreaking, but all feel important for their medical implications as well as for what they can teach us about our connection to other living creatures... Miller... delves deep into the science, translating dense medical text into practical information.
Harvard Medicine Magazine
“It’s alternative living in a big way, whether you’re the field, the cow, the cultivated insect, or the patient of a type of physician [Miller] calls “medical ecologists.” Miller had fun, writes exuberantly, and wants to infect us in the best way possible with the spirit of these places.”
Kirkus Reviews
Miller (Family Medicine/Univ. of California, San Francisco) steps outside medicine's orthodoxy to explore the connection between sustainable farming and healthy living. The author, who examined diets in traditional communities in The Jungle Effect (2008), has now traveled to family farms around the United States to learn how the principles of sustainable farming apply to integrative medicine and healthy living. Impelled on her journey by Grace Gershuny and Joe Smillie's The Soul of Soil (1996), the author spent time on a biodynamic farm and an aromatic herb farm in Washington, on a bison ranch in Missouri, with an egg producer in Arkansas, at a winery in California's Sonoma Valley and in community gardens in the Bronx. Working hands-on and also picking the brains of the farms' operators, Miller observed farmers taking a holistic, or "whole system," approach to their work that she has found to be too often missing in the modern practice of medicine. To illustrate how her broader, more integrated approach to treating patients differs from the common reductionist approach, the author includes revealing stories of her experiences with specific patients. At the end of each farm visit, she sums up the lessons learned. For example, the winery's pest-management approach suggests to her that cancer should be viewed more as a chronic challenge to be contained rather than as an invader demanding total eradication by the use of harsh treatments. The egg producer's handling of his flocks of chickens suggests a variety of techniques for reducing human stress. Miller also includes her whimsical hand-drawn maps of each of the locations where she spent time. While aimed at general readers, the author's message is also appropriate for physicians and is made palatable by Miller's persona and the avoidance of preachy smugness.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062103147
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/16/2013
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 130,365
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Daphne Miller, M.D., is a practicing physician, professor of family medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of The Jungle Effect. Her writing and teaching explores the frontier between biomedicine and the natural world. A contributing columnist to the Washington Post, Miller holds a medical degree from Harvard University. She lives in Berkeley, California, with her family.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 10, 2014

    Food for thought

    Enjoyed! Healthy food for thought on the health of our food and the role of contact with nature and our well being.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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