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

In her recent book, Farmacology, physician Daphne Miller explores how the guiding principles of the sustainable farming movement should be applied to health and healing in the doctor’s office.

In every chapter, Dr. Miller, a practicing physician and professor of family medicine, features a sustainable farm and one (or two) of her patients.  She approaches the health problems of her patients, for whom reductionist, traditional medical interventions have been unsuccessful, with the philosophical perspective of a sustainable and ecologically minded farmer.

Her take-away message: in the same way that reductionist thinking on conventional farms slowly deteriorates the health of the soil and ecosystem, reductionist thinking in doctor’s offices does little to promote true health in individuals.  A farm is more than the sum of its parts, and the same concepts apply to human health.

Dr. Miller makes the case beautifully, in a fascinating and informative read.

About Dr. Miller, From the Book Cover

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.


buylocal-page1135Resources for Making Informed Food Choices


Find organic seeds, indoor growing systems, outdoor gardening tools and organic fish fertilizers in our Kindred Community Marketplace.


Check out Kindred’s Bookstore foGrowing Your Own Food and Whole and Local Food Cookbooks.


Eat Well Guide
If you want good meat and don’t want the problems associated with industrially-raised factory meat, the Eat Well Guide is for you. This online resource lists farms and stores that sell sustainably-raised meat, including organic, antibiotic and hormone free, humanely raised, pasture raised and pasture raised. (Restaurants will be coming shortly.) This comprehensive guide covers all 50 states and Canada, and includes beef, pork, chicken, turkey, fish, lamb, goat, dairy and eggs. This is “the” resource for sustainably-raised meat.

Farmers Markets
Listing of farmers markets around the country. Includes a fact sheet about farmers markets and information about starting your own market. (From the USDA.)

Heritage Foods USA 
Promotes genetic diversity, small family farms, and a fully traceable food supply. Committed to making wholesome, delicious and sustainably produced heritage foods available to all Americans. Current focus is on poultry. Fosters the link between sustainable land use, small-scale food production and preservation of the foods of past generations for future generations.

Local Harvest
A guide to online stores, farms, CSA, farmers markets and food co-ops selling all types of sustainably-raised food, including fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, flowers and herbs. Also has an online store where you can buy products directly from family farms.

The Meatrix rBGH-free Dairy List
Search by state to find milk, butter, yogurt, ice cream and other dairy products that are rBGH-free. Mail order brands are included as well. We’ve also provided them as downloadable lists for your iPod to make shopping easier!

The National CSA Database
The Robyn Van En Center for CSA Resources provides a complete listing of CSAs throughout the US – just punch in your zip code to find a CSA near you!

Pastured Products Directory
State by state listing of pasture-raised animals, including cattle, pigs, poultry and rabbits. There is no independent certification, though producers have stated they follow the Eat Wild criteria, which limits antibiotics, excludes hormones and requires the animals be treated humanely and raised on pasture. (Eat Wild, produced by Jo Robinson)

Pesticides in Produce
A guide to 12 popular fresh fruits and vegetables that are consistently the most contaminated with pesticides and those 12 fruits and vegetables that consistently have low levels of pesticides. (Food News, from the Environmental Working Group)

Seafood Watch
Eating fish has become so confusing. Is it farmed, wild, endangered, or over fished? Are the fishing practices unsustainable? The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch has information on all types of seafood. Includes a printable wallet card of which fish to buy, be concerned about, and avoid. Currently does not cover health issues surrounding fish. (Informational only – does not give actual places to buy fish.)

Seasense Database
Description of different types of fish followed by important points to be aware of when considering buying or serving it. Lists recommendations from other groups, including Monterey Bay Aquarium, NRDC, Blue Ocean Institute and Environmental Defense. Don’t forget to visit theirSubscriber Database, a listing of ocean-friendly restaurants, fish markets and other businesses in some parts of the country. (Seafood Choices Alliance, a partnership of groups around the country working to save our oceans.)

Food and Water Watch’s Fish Guidelines
With 10 easy steps, FWW provides you with the most important things to remember when buying fish.

True Food Shopping List 
Find out what foods contain genetically engineered ingredients. The True Food Shopping List contains hundreds of brand name products found in grocery stores around the country, listed into two columns — those that contain GE ingredients and those that don’t. The True Food Guide is a list of fruits and vegetables also separated into GE and non-GE. (True Food Network)



Ecology Action and Grow Bionintensive. Since 1972 we and our colleagues have been researching and developing GROW BIOINTENSIVE®, a high-yielding, sustainable agricultural system that emphasizes local food production and is based historically on intensive gardening systems.

Food Not Lawns. Turning Yards into Gardens and Neighborhoods into Communities.  Find or start a local chapter of Food Not Lawns (scroll to the bottom of the website for listings).  Read the book.

Institute for Responsible Technology. The Institute for Responsible Technology is a world leader in educating policy makers and the public about genetically modified (GM) foods and crops. We investigate and report their risks and impact on health, environment, the economy, and agriculture, as well as the problems associated with current research, regulation, corporate practices, and reporting.  Fantastic number of resources on this website to shop GMO-free, to become active in your community, and to take action on national and global GMO issues!

Local Harvest. The best organic food is what’s grown closest to you. Use our website to find farmers’ markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies. Want to support this great web site? Shop in our catalog for things you can’t find locally!

Organic Consumers Association. The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The OCA deals with crucial issues of food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children’s health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability and other key topics. We are the only organization in the US focused exclusively on promoting the views and interests of the nation’s estimated 50 million organic and socially responsible consumers.

Permaculture InstitutePermaculture is an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor. It teaches us how build natural homes, grow our own food, restore diminished landscapes and ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities and much more. The Permaculture Institute is an educational non-profit, offering Permaculture Design Courses and in-depth sustainable living classes.

Weston A. Price Foundation. The Weston A. Price Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charity founded in 1999 to disseminate the research of nutrition pioneer Dr. Weston Price, whose studies of isolated nonindustrialized peoples established the parameters of human health and determined the optimum characteristics of human diets. Dr. Price’s research demonstrated that humans achieve perfect physical form and perfect health generation after generation only when they consume nutrient-dense whole foods and the vital fat-soluble activators found exclusively in animal fats.

The Foundation is dedicated to restoring nutrient-dense foods to the human diet through education, research and activism. It supports a number of movements that contribute to this objective including accurate nutrition instruction, organic and biodynamic farming, pasture-feeding of livestock, community-supported farms, honest and informative labeling, prepared parenting and nurturing therapies. Specific goals include establishment of universal access to clean, certified raw milk and a ban on the use of soy formula for infants.



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