Dr. Daphne Miller is author of The Jungle Effect and the new Farmacology: What can innovative family farming teach us about health and healing? She is an associate clinical professor of family medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, a practicing family physician, and a contributing writer for several magazines and newspapers. She writes about the connections between biomedicine, food, farming and the natural world. She lives and gardens in Berkeley.
We caught up with her to chat about her new book.
What inspired you to write ‘Farmacology’?
I had been writing about food and nutrition for over a decade before it dawned on me that I needed to learn more about the places where our food is grown. Of course I’d advise my patients to look for labels like “organic,” “pasture-raised” or “non GMO” as markers of healthy farms and food. But beyond the labeling, it was all pretty much a mystery.
So recently I began to take time away from my medical practice to visit sustainable farms and see what went on there. As I journeyed across the country, milking cows, gathering eggs, weeding, laying irrigation pipe and hawking produce at farmstands, I discovered that good medicine and good farming had much in common. In fact, I began to see family farmers as healers whose jobs were more complicated than mine, since they were responsible for the health of an entire ecosystem — soil, soil creatures, animals, plants, water, air, people — while I was expected to care for just one member of that ecosystem.