I just finished a fascinating new book by Daphne Miller, MD called Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing. When I first heard the title, I hoped the book would have a “food as medicine” theme and would teach me how I could get off my meds by eating locally produced, organic food. I didn’t really learn how I could do that, darn it, but I did learn a lot of other very interesting things.
For example, did you know that studying chickens can give valuable insight into stress management? I certainly didn’t.
Dr. Miller treated two male patients suffering from the flu at exactly the same time. Very similar in terms of age, overall health, family situation and careers, both patients had high-stress jobs that required frequent air travel. One patient, Carl, recovered at home in about a week. The other, Mike, developed pneumonia, was in the hospital for three days and didn’t completely recover for about two months. Dr. Miller wondered why Carl and Mike had such different experiences with the flu when their lives were so similar. Then she visited two different egg farms in Arkansas.
At one farm, the chickens were contained inside a very large, very crowded, very noisy henhouse. At the other, the chickens spent their days outside, roaming, pecking and playing with each other. Stress affected both sets of chickens. The indoor ones were cramped and “in a swirl of dust and feathers.” The outdoor ones had to contend with thunderstorms, hawks and fire ants.
Mike was like the indoor chickens – constantly subjected to low-grade stress that affected his adrenal glands, his brain and his circulatory system. Carl was like the outdoor chickens, occasionally having “heart-pumping experiences,” but not suffering from the effects of chronic stress.
Dr. Miller had her answer as to why Mike and Carl recovered from the flu so differently.
Similarly, Farmacology shows how rejuvenating soil can teach us how to heal our own bodies, how studying a ranch’s grazing system can show us how to raise resilient kids and how a vineyard’s integrated pest management set-up can help us think about cancer treatment in new ways.
I loved what I learned about farming techniques from this book and I enjoyed seeing how they relate to health and healing. I highly recommend reading this book if you are interested in either topic. See below for how you can win your own copy.
I’m giving away a copy of Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing by Daphne Miller, MD. To enter, leave a comment and tell me why you’d like to win. The contest will run through Wednesday, May 29, 2013. The winner will be chosen at random on Thursday, May 30, 2013. You must be at least 18 years of age with a U.S. mailing address to win. No purchase is necessary; void where prohibited. The winner will be notified by email and must respond within 24 hours or another winner may be selected. (Please make sure email from email@example.com doesn’t end up in your spam folder.)
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing by Daphne Miller, MD from William Morrow & Company plus a second copy to give away. All opinions are my own.