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OLIVIA WU: Thank you for being here.
I have been looking forward to this talk and to meeting
Daphne, and having all of you meet her, since I
knew she was coming.
She's a family physician.
She's a writer.
And she teaches in the Department of Family Medicine,
UC San Francisco.
But first and foremost, I think, it's just striking to
note that she's a doc.
She sits in her office three days a week and sees patients
all day long, from birth to age 102, and she
takes care of them.
And she's the first doc I've taken around Google, and I've
taken many doctors around, who said, let me take a picture of
the size of your desserts.
And let me take the picture of the size of the cheese you're
serving, because I want to show my patients how small
you're serving them.
This is how she cares about her patients
and about their health.
And she prescribes good eating, among other things.
And as she said to me at lunch, if you care about your
food, you ultimately have to find out and care about how it
is grown and where it comes from.
So I'm so excited for her to come and talk to us, to make
this connection between our natural world, what's grown,
how it's grown, and how that connects with our health.
I'm talked to quite often by people who
say, there's health.
Tell me what I should eat and what's good for me.
And then tell me about what's good for the environment.
They have nothing to do with each other.
And to me, they have everything to
do with each other.
And I think Daphne's going to talk to us about that, among
other things.
So she's also a writer.
She's a columnist for the "Washington Post," in the
Health section.
And she's got these two books. "Farmacology" just came out.
Very excited to see it and to hear about it.
I thought I'd end by reading to you some of the titles of
articles that she's written.
"Locavorism vs. Salmonella," "Take a hike and call me in
the morning," "Prescribing Food," "Farm-Fresh Goat-Milk
Lattes."
And to me, this is the fascinating thing about her.
She is comparing small family farms, which I consider to be
in pretty fragile state, to integrative medicine, medicine
for the whole person, and drawing lessons from farming
when both of them are things that are really kinda edgy.
So I can't wait to hear more.
Please welcome Daphne for me.
[APPLAUSE]
DAPHNE MILLER: Thank you so much.
It's lovely to be here.
I have to tell you guys that you're kind of
like my lucky penny.
Because five years ago, when "Jungle Effect," my last book,
came out, it was at Google that I gave one
of the first talks.
And that book went on to do quite well.
And once again, this is one of the very first talks that I'm
giving on "Farmacology," so maybe I need to rub all of you
afterwards.
So I'm going to tell you a story about soil and your
health today.
But first, I'm going to tell you a little bit about how I
got into all of this in the first place.
Maybe one way to illustrate it would be to tell you about a
conversation I had with a reporter a couple weeks ago.
This was a reporter that was interviewing
me about the book.
And at the end of the interview, he told me about
something that he'd seen down at Stanford at their new
technologies, cool new inventions expo.
And what it was, was a box.
And you could buy a cartridge, just like you can for a
printer, and the cartridge contained a plant and soil and
a computer chip.
And you would put it in the box, and shut the lid, and
push the button, and you would get a plant.
And the inventors, they're actually on Kickstarter, were
saying this is great.
Now anybody can be a gardener or a farmer.
And the interviewer wanted to know what I
thought about this.
Well, the geek in me thinks it's pretty darn cool.
What is that computer chip doing?
And all you have to do is add water.
Are you serious?
And this plant grows on your counter.
And you need light, but you don't
even really need sunlight.
And I was, like, on my phone trying to find the website and
everything
But the healer in me had some real hesitations.
How do we think that we can reduce something so
complicated, something that nature does with so many
elements as growing our food, down to a cartridge and push
the button, and a computer chip?
It's the same hesitancy I have when I think, how can we
reduce something so complicated as depression down
to one neurotransmitter, or diabetes down to one hormone,
or cancer down to one missing piece of DNA, or one excessive
piece of DNA.
And in fact, it is exactly that concern about the
reductionism that sent me out of my medical office to learn
from sustainable farmers.
Because from my vantage point, I actually saw them as being
professionals, who were in charge of healing an entire
system, that had thought about all of those pieces, sun,
moon, bugs, rain, and brought them all together to make
something grow.
And that was what I was interested in doing in my
medical practice, is that kind of complexity thinking.
So that was one of the first things that started me looking
outside of the 8 by 10 walls of my medical practice.
It was also my interest in food.
And as Liv said, you talk about food long enough, you
have to start to wonder where it comes from.
And you have to start to get beyond those words like,
organic or GMO.
These are just kind of labels.
You just have to understand what's really
happening behind all that.
But I'd be misrepresenting myself if I told you that I
had no background in agriculture.
In fact, I was conceived on a farm.
That might be too much information.
You guys are just getting to know me here.
My parents were part of the
back-to-the-land kibbutz movement.
They moved from a small town outside of Massachusetts to
Israel in 1964.
And they were living in a little, tiny
shack on the kibbutz.
I guess when you're living in a single bed, the next thing
is you have a kid.
I don't know.
But my mother found out very quickly that children on a
kibbutz are raised just like the chickens.
They're basically kept in a separate coop.
And she decided she did not want a communal child, so I
was not born on the farm.
But I have my roots on the farm.
But I was on this farm.
And that's me that you see in the corner.
And this is a picture that was actually sent to me very
recently when the farmer's daughter found out that I was
writing this book.
But this is a piece of land in upstate New York that my
parents bought when they moved back to the States.
Actually, it was 150 acres.
And I think they bought it with their stipend from
graduate school at that time.
But this was an introduction to agriculture.
But I don't know if any of you grew up on a farm or do some
farming now.
Is there anybody in the room who is connected in
any way to the land?
OK.
Even gardeners, you count.
If you have a little box out there, that counts.
OK, wonderful, everybody in the room.
Well, this kind of farming, I think you see what's happening
with the soil here.
It's being turned upside down so that all that little
architecture of bugs and roots and all these things that
nourish plants on the top, are actually being turned deep
down into the earth where they can't do very much.
But this was kind of what farming had turned to in the
late 1960s when I'm standing there in the corner.
My next experience with farming actually happened in
medical school, where my best friend, it turns out, in
medical school, was a goat farmer from Mendocino.
And he'd been homeschooled all the way until college.
And we would sit in the back of the lecture hall.
And the professors would flash these images or slides of
diseases up.
And he would sit next to me and say, my goats get that.
Or, I know exactly how that works.
Because I've taken care of it for years on my goats.
And it was fascinating to me that he was way more advanced
of a healer than I was because of his experience on the farm.
And that stuck with me.
So then, my next experience with farming--
I'm giving you sort of my background in farming-- was as
an intern in the Salinas Valley.
I went from Harvard Medical School, which was sort of this
tertiary care, hyper-reductionist, focused
specialty training to a family medicine training in the
Salinas Valley.
And there I took care of farm workers.
And it was the first time in my life that I saw something
called organophosphate poisoning, which was a
pesticide that's now illegal, but then, in the early 1990s,
was still being used all the time in the fields.
And I remember one of my first times in the ER, being on
call, and this woman coming in, pregnant, her fingers
stained black from picking berries, seizing from
organophosphate poisoning.
And I saw an array of fetal malformations in their busy
obstetrics ward that I hadn't seen
during my previous training.
And so there it was really the dark side of farming that I
was exposed to.
But my real interest in farming probably happened the
same time as all of you, in that I started to become
interested in sustainable food, and this fantastic
movement of knowing your farmer and going to the
farmers' market and hearing about young idealists, people
in their 20s and 30s who were giving up their fancy
educations and going back to the land and starting to grow
vegetables, veritable vegetables.
And I heard these stories.
And here I was, as a family doctor in medicine, wondering
when are people going to be clamoring for their medicine
to have a face the way they're clamoring for their food to
have a face?
And when are we going to get the same idealists who are
pouring into health and healing and wanting to be
primary care doctors the same way they want to be farmers,
underpaid primary care doctors?
And I'm still waiting for that movement to happen.
But that is one of the reasons I started to look at this
paradigm of complexity and sustainable farming.
But then, the more I started to learn about farming, the
more I realized that farmers and I have the same patients.
I started to look at, actually, what they
do on a given day.
And you have to squint a little bit here, OK?
But if you do, it's amazing, the levels of the structures,
the way, actually, that they work and that the nutrients
are moved from top to bottom.
And look at those hairs.
Their hair follicles look surprisingly like soil.
I mean, there is a pattern here that repeats itself not
just between the skin and the soil but between the
intestinal lining and the soil and the pulmonary
tree and the soil.
And then you start to look on the electron microscope level.
Can you guess which one of these is the villi in our
intestine interacting with microbes and nutrients.
And In which one is roots interacting with
microbes and nutrients?
Can you guess?
Don't read the bottom.
You cheated already.
But hard to tell, right?
So the one on your left is the intestine.
And these are the intestinal villi.
And this is the glycan, the nutrients that are being
processed and brought in.
And this is the same with the rhizosphere, with the roots
from plants.
And it works the same.
The organic matter comes in.
The microbes process it.
They put it into these perfect packages, and then it gets
absorbed through these finger-like projections,
whether it be in your gut or in the soil.
And then, I started to learn that the ideal pH of soil and
the ideal pH of our bodies are pretty much exactly the same.
And the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio of soil, and the
carbon-to-nitrogen ratio that makes up our
being is darn similar.
And then, all of a sudden, it dawned on me-- and I feel
pretty stupid that it took all these years for it to dawn on
me as a physician--
but you know all those carbohydrates and fats and
proteins that make up our body?
Where do they come from?
They come from the soil via our food.
In fact, it's not too much of a stretch to
say that we are soil.
And when I started to think about what that meant, all of
a sudden, my exploration took on sort of
two levels of meaning.
There was the model for farming that
interested me as a doctor.
And then there was the practice, these things that I
could actually learn that I call farm-to-body lessons,
that I could go out and bring my patients so that they could
be healthier.
And "Farmacology" is sort of the
culmination of all of that.
It's a whole series of lessons from everything from a
laying-egg farm and what it can teach us about different
kinds of stress, to a cow-calf farm and what it can teach us
about super immunity or how to build our resistance, to an
aromatic herb farm that teaches us, actually, how
plants have special messages for our
metabolism in our body.
But I'm going to tell you one story today.
And as I said at the beginning, it is the story
about soil and us.
And it starts, actually, with this farmer here, Erick
Haakenson, and his wife Wendy.
Erick was actually not married to Wendy when he bought his 12
acres of land in the Snoqualmie Valley in
Washington State.
He bought it in the late 1980s after having a varied career.
Unlike a lot of farmers, he wasn't born into farming.
He actually had gone to Yale Divinity School for a while.
And then he became a salmon fisherman up in Alaska.
But then, in the late 1980s, he wanted to fulfill a
lifelong dream, and he bought 12 acres in the Snoqualmie.
And his goal, as he explained to me, was that he wanted to
grow vegetables that had nutritional punch.
But as he started to farm the land and plant his crops and
see what he was getting, he realized that, in fact, his
soil was depleted.
It was tired.
It had no more nutrients in it.
And now, from what you've just learned, when your soil is
depleted, that means that your vegetables are not going to
have nutritional punch.
And so he was a smart man, a learned man.
So he went to the agronomy books.
He went to the agricultural science textbooks.
And he started to learn about how to replenish his soil.
And he learned about what is called testing and replacing,
where basically you go around your property, and you take
samples in each one of the fields that you're planning to
grow your vegetables in.
And then you take these samples, and much like a test
tube, like you would with your blood when you go to the lab,
and you send it off to a central lab, that's an
agronomy lab.
And they send you back something that looks very much
like this, very much like the reports that I get in my
office for my patients.
You get one for each area that you've sampled.
And it tells you if you have too much of a mineral or too
little of a mineral.
It also tells you how much to replace it.
And so Erick took all of this information, being the dutiful
farmer, and he started to follow directions.
So I'm going to actually take a second and just read you a
tiny excerpt from the book about this.
And it's Erick talking to me.
"'I spent days following up on those computer readouts.
I used my John Deere cone spreader and ended up putting
thousands of pounds of minerals all on my 12 acres.'
He was not exaggerating.
I estimated, from the reports, that in the years Erick used
the Agricultural Testing Services, he'd spread more
than 50 tons of imported minerals over his land.
'But somehow, it didn't feel right.
There were lots of minerals that I wasn't sure
where they were from.
They were probably taken from developing countries where
their soil needed these minerals more than we do.
And I was also wondering, if these are all so good for my
plants, why does the manufacturer recommended that
I wear a mask while I'm spreading them?'
Plus, despite all his efforts, Erick was not seeing the
miraculous improvements that he'd hoped for.
He said, 'I couldn't help thinking, yeah, I'm putting
these minerals on the soil, but are they really
getting to the plant?
And if I happen to put down a little too much of one thing,
what did it do to all the other nutrients?
I'd heard stories about how adding too much of one can
lock up other elements.
This could create soil conditions that were even
worse than when I started.'"
So I'm sitting there, at Erick's dining room table, and
he's telling me this story.
And as he's talking, all of a sudden, I flash onto a patient
that I had seen in my office a week before coming to his farm
to do this internship.
And her name was Allie.
I kind of changed her name for the book.
It wasn't really Allie, but we'll call her Allie.
And she was pretty typical for my practice.
She was a woman in her 30s, who, the best word I can find
to describe her, was depleted, just like Erick's soil.
And she had had some intense things happen in her life.
Her business had gone awry.
Her father had gotten very sick.
She had been doing a lot of traveling for her work.
And she started to get very fatigued.
And she was going around and seeing various physicians and
also seeing other healers.
And each time she would go and see someone,
what would they do?
They would test her.
And then, they would get the readouts, and they would
replace her.
And she was starting to be this pharmacopoeia of
prescription medicines and also supplements.
Meantime, her digestion was going to pot.
She was just feeling terrible.
There was, like, this limited diet that she could eat.
She'd get those bag things of spinach and steam them,
because she knew she needed some kind of
vegetable in her diet.
And then she would survive on energy bars.
They were the only other thing that would make her feel good.
And so she came to me, as sort of this last-ditch resort, in
desperation, and wanted to find out what I
recommended for her.
So this is a description of my first visit with Allie.
"If Allie were sitting at the table listening to Erick, I'm
certain that she would nod her head in agreement.
To her first appointment in my office, she brought in not
only her thick file of test results but also two shopping
bags filled with prescription pills and over-the-counter
supplements.
One by one, she unpacked them onto my desk and a neighboring
bookshelf until my little exam room looked more like a
vitamin shop than a doctor's office.
The pharmaceuticals I could recognize right away, a
proton-pump inhibitor for her stomach, an antispasmodic for
her lower abdominal cramps, an antidepressant for her mood,
an antihistamine for her allergies.
But a good proportion of the bottles in Allie's pharmacy
were labeled with vague names, like Vital Force or Woman's
Thrive, rather than a specific nutrient.
And when I read the fine print, I saw that some
nutrients reappeared on a multitude of bottles.
For example, I found five supplements that contained
zinc and four others that listed Vitamin A or its
metabolite retinoic acid.
Looking at this impressive array, it was not too much of
a stretch to think of Allie as locked up.
Indeed, any drug or supplement can have unintended effects in
humans, like soil can become deficient in one nutrient as a
result of having too much of another.
For instance, excess calcium can create zinc and iron
deficiencies in humans.
Interestingly enough, Erick told me that excess phosphate
in the soil can create the same deficiencies in plants.
I wondered how many adverse interactions might be taking
place in Allie's fragile system because of all the
drugs and supplements she was taking."
So back to Erick.
I asked him, so what did you do to make this beautiful land
that I've been farming for the past couple days, as I was
sitting at the table.
And he told me the story about how he actually ended up
rejuvenating his land.
He went back to the books.
But this time, he didn't go to your standard agronomy books.
He went to books by the grandmothers and grandfathers
of organic agriculture, people whose names you might
recognize, like Rudolf Steiner, and FH King, and Lady
Balfour, and Sir Albert Howard.
These are people who wrote about organic farming very
early on and influenced people like the
modern day Michael Pollan.
These are the original organic agricultural philosophers.
And how did they get their opinions?
They got them from watching traditional farmers farm on
the land, farmers who had been farming a piece of land and
received it from their parents and their great-grandparents
and their great-great-grandparents and
planned to hand it down to their children, and their
grandchildren, and their great-great-grandchildren.
And so they had found a system of preserving the soil and
preserving fertility on the land.
And it didn't matter if they were in China, like FH King
wrote about China, or if they were in Germany and Bavaria,
like Rudolf Steiner, who wrote about Germany and Bavaria, or
India, like Sir Albert Howard.
What they were all doing was pretty much the same.
They were farming in the image of nature.
They were farming the way that nature farms.
How does nature farm?
Nature farms with animals, not just with plants.
Animals are there to replenish the soil.
Think of a natural setting like a forest.
How does it happen?
The animals are part of that ecosystem.
Nature always keeps ground cover.
Have you ever been to a place in nature, in the wild, where
you just see bare soil?
There's always something that's protecting it and
preserving the moisture.
Nature doesn't till the way you saw in that first picture,
where you take that delicate top layer and
stick it down lower.
It can't do anything to nourish the plants.
Nature doesn't use chemical additives.
Nature conserves water.
Nature uses seeds that were grown in that place, because
they're intended to be there, not seeds that are actually
refined for a distant land or that have another gene
introduced in them, as we're seeing now.
So Erick became very influenced by these writings.
And he, too, started to farm.
And his method is called biodynamic farming.
But it really is this full cycle of farming in
the image of nature.
And what he did, by doing this, is he started to nourish
all of those microbes and all of those worms and all of
those voles, the little rodents that live under the
soil which are there to process that organic matter.
And in turn, these billions of unpaid workers began to
nourish his plants.
And he started to grow the most amazing grass, because he
would rotate the animals through.
I mean, what better fertilizer than a cow, right?
They deposit it.
And then they plow it in with their hooves.
And then they move on.
And they'll also disturb the top layer just enough that you
start to get a little system going on there.
So does that grass look pretty good to you guys?
I mean, I know you're not necessarily experts, but
wouldn't you say that's pretty good looking grass?
Yeah, good grass.
And then he started to grow amazing vegetables.
And he's just this very, very popular farmer up in the
Snoqualmie.
But the true test is that about 8 to 10 years into
having given up that test and replace and changing his soil,
he went back, and he did those soil samples.
And he sent them back into the lab.
And the results came back that everything was perfect.
And he hadn't bought an outside
additive in almost a decade.
So his new system was really working.
So I'm sitting there, as a doctor at the dining room
table, after having done a hard day's labor in his field,
and I'm thinking, how does this apply
to Allie, my patient?
Here she is in San Francisco suffering, eating her energy
bars and her wilted spinach from Costco and, you know,
eating her bags of medicines every day.
Can I make the leap?
Can we start to say that when Allie enters an eco-cycle that
she, too, can get healthier just like his vegetables and
just like the cows and just like the worms and just like
Erick and Wendy reported for themselves
and their farm interns?
What would happen to Allie?
So I'm a woman of science.
So I started to go to the
literature to see what happens.
I mean, we have all of this data now, telling us that if
it is a biodynamically rich soil, if there's a lot of
worms and a lot of microbes that are just teeming in that
soil, and there's a lot of actual DNA in the soil, that
you grow a more nutrient-rich and more varied crop.
Can you guys tell which is the biodynamically rich soil here
just from looking at this slide?
What's your guess?
The one on the left, yeah.
And you're not a farmer, right?
You could just tell.
If you just even looked, not at the greenery, but at the
soil itself, what do you see that's different?
How would you describe the two soils?
AUDIENCE: Happy.
DAPHNE MILLER: Happy.
AUDIENCE: Moist.
DAPHNE MILLER: Moist.
AUDIENCE: Rich.
DAPHNE MILLER: Rich.
Yeah, there's something about it that feels pliable, like
that it can give, like it can allow earth to come through.
You're not going to believe this.
But as a doctor, when I look at my patients, I apply a lot
of these same values.
This is what you learn.
Is that recognized?
Healthy, sick?
And this was fascinating for me to see that I had this
language, actually, in common with farmers, our ability to
sort of evaluate things.
But we have a lot of data now showing us that microbes in
the soil, in this rich soil, have everything to do with the
value of the nutrients that come out of it.
And I don't know if you guys are familiar with the study
that came out of Stanford about nine months ago, saying
that organic is no better than conventional.
It's because they were asking the wrong question.
If they'd been asking about the soil--
because there's many organic soils that look like that.
In fact, that's an organic soil--
if they were asking, does microbial-rich soil and well
cared for eco-soil like Erick's produce happier
vegetables, their study would have had a
totally different result.
Isn't it amazing in science, if you ask the wrong question,
you really go down the rabbit hole.
So we have lots of information about this.
This is not disputed at this point.
And we have lots of information that nutrient-rich
foods makes for healthy people.
We have that information, too.
But we haven't completed the arc from soil to our bodies.
How do we relate to soil?
What happens if I put Allie in that eco-cycle?
What happens if I put you in that eco-cycle to your health?
And these are the kinds of cross-disciplinary,
big-picture questions that we need to start asking and not
get caught in our click-and-grow bubble, you
know, of putting the plant in the box or the
human on the drug.
So I called lots of scientists.
I asked them this question, what happens to us when we get
connected to healthy soil?
Can we actually turn our health around?
And most of them, there was silence at
the end of the phone.
I talked to people in health.
I talked to people in agronomy.
But one day I called Justin Sonnenburg.
And he's a microbiologist at Stanford.
Do you recognize his slide there on his desktop?
You saw that earlier, right?
That's the one I showed you of the human gut.
What Justin and his wife Erica do-- they're a
team in their lab--
and they study the microbiome, which is that massive colony
of bacteria that lives in our intestine.
Two pounds of us is bacteria that we don't own in terms of
it not being part of our DNA but that we're discovering
more and more has everything to do with our health.
It has to do with our propensity for allergies.
It has to do with our level of immunity.
It has to do with our metabolism.
It might even have to do with whether we are heavy or thin.
These are all things that are related to the microbiome.
And if you're interested in reading more, "Mother Jones"
has a fantastic article that just came out, I think, last
week but specifically on it.
It's one of the best pieces I've seen.
But there's more and more coming out about how much
these little bugs in our gut sort of rule our health.
And what we're discovering is that a certain percentage of
these we inherit the same way we inherit property or our
grandmother's candlesticks.
They come to us within our family lineage.
But there's another percentage of them that we get from our
environment and we get from a variety of places, including
the places where our food is grown, the soil and water.
Water is the oceans or where our food is grown, as well.
Sometimes we don't think of that as the water equivalent
of soil, but it is.
And so Justin said, we're just starting to discover how the
microbes, those microbes that Erick is growing in his soil,
interact with our microbiome and what effect that's having
on our health, and that that might explain at least a good
part of what happens to someone like Allie in terms of
her health when she enters the farm cycle.
But I'm just going to share with you some of the research
that's coming out on this.
And this is new stuff, guys.
I've gone from ancient farmers to sort of cutting edge
microbiology here.
But what we're starting to discover--
and this is a study that just came out a couple months ago--
is that when your food is grown in soil that's been
mistreated, that's been dosed with antibiotics and
pesticides and fertilizers, the bacteria that's encouraged
to grow in that soil, first of all, it becomes very
monotonous.
You don't get the huge variety that you got in that slide
that you appreciated.
You tend to get fewer types of bacteria.
And they develop antibiotic resistance.
And then what happens is they hitchhike on your food into
your gut, and they give information--
sometimes it's just a segment of DNA--
to your microbiome.
And they actually can convert good guys.
They can convert the nice candlesticks that you got from
your grandmother into antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
And so we're starting to discover that, you know, we've
known that when you dose animals with antibiotics that
that affects your own resistance to antibiotics.
We're starting to discover that soil is a whole other
piece of this.
And we just don't even know what other kind of negative
information can come in from having your food grown in
negative soil.
They're just starting to code these strands and figure out
what this little invisible exchange is that's happening.
So now I've told you the bad news.
But the good news--
and this is a piece that Justin wrote.
It's about research that researchers in France did--
but we're discovering that good information gets
transferred, as well.
So this is about a study that was done where researchers
went and looked at a bacteria that lives on
seaweed in the ocean.
And this bacteria has a sequence of DNA in it that's
really good at digesting seaweed and processing those
nutrients and using it.
And it's bacteria that's called a
Bacteroidetes type bacteria.
And so now that we can sequence the entire genome,
and we're starting to be able to sequence the entire biome,
they went in, and they started to look at where they could
find that enzyme that digests the seaweed in terms of all
living species.
And they found it in the intestines of cultures that
eat a lot of seaweed.
And so what happened is that that bacteria
passed its DNA on.
It hitchhiked on the seaweed into the microbiome of these
seaweed-eating cultures.
And as a result, they have a better ability than non
seaweed-eating cultures to digest seaweed
and harvest its nutrients.
They have these special Bacteroidetes that are sort of
like seaweed gluttons, and that give them all these great
nutrients from seaweed.
But let's say, if your family grew up for centuries in
Eastern Europe, you don't have that ability.
And as Justin Sonnenburg said, this is just
the tip of the iceberg.
How much of this information, this pass-the-gene game, is
happening between us and our soil at every given meal,
we're just starting to discover.
I'm not going to load you with a bunch of this new research,
but I need to tell you this other study,
because I just love it.
This is Italian researchers who went to a tiny village in
Burkina Faso and, actually--
it's kind of a weird study--
they took a group of healthy children in the village and
collected stool samples from them and studied the bacterial
content of their stool.
And then they went and compared these stool samples,
the bacterial colonies in it, to a sample from kids who were
living in downtown Florence.
And I don't know if any of you have been to Florence lately,
but they have a McDonald's on every corner, just like we do
here in the urban US.
And those kids, they have the same childhood obesity problem
in Italy that we have.
So a really different sample of kids.
These are kids in Burkina Faso, who, the best way to
describe it is that they are eating this full
cycle form of farming.
They are eating from land and soil that's
very much like Erick's.
So the result that they saw was that the children in
Burkina Faso, the green is that Bacteroidetes.
It's that type of bacteria that tends to be very good.
There's many different species of them.
But they're all, in general, very good at harvesting whole
grains and greens and taking those nutrients and passing
them on to you, versus firmicutes, which is what you
see a preponderance of in Florence.
And this looks much more like our intestine, when they
sample people here in the West.
Firmicutes thrive on a McDonald's meal.
They're great at taking saturated fats and lots of
sugar and harvesting those nutrients and
moving them into you.
Those are kind of the Homer Simpson of bacteria.
And so, also, from the children from Burkina Faso,
they discovered that they had types of bacteria that we
don't even have in our Western guts and that look a lot more
like bacteria that they found when they took these ancient
stool samples from archaeological sites, from
people in Mesopotamia, and looked at what their bacteria
looked like.
They are able to code the DNA in these ancient stools.
The name for ancient stools, by the way, is coprolites, in
case you're in a trivia game ever, and you need to
come up with that.
But they looked a lot more like the Burkina Faso kids.
So the point here is that part of our microbiome is going
extinct as we move away from these traditional soils and
these traditional ways of farming and
these traditional foods.
We're actually losing the bacteria which are our friends
and can help us metabolically.
And so learning all of this, I really started to wonder, so
what would happen if Allie really reconnected with the
farm and became a piece of the farm?
And I started to talk to her about this idea, based on what
I'd learned with Erick.
And I kind of came up with this little set of rules for
how to reconnect with the farm.
I came up with seven ideas here for her.
The first one was to eat a little dirt and bugs.
And it was obviously from food that's been grown in an
authentic and full-farming way.
If you eat that food from the farm that I showed you in that
slide that's causing antibiotic resistance, the
dirt from that farm that's causing antibiotic resistance,
that's not going to be recommended.
But eat a little dirt and bugs from a farm like Erick's.
Who knows what kinds of information is coming along?
And someone, at a talk I gave recently, told me that there
are some chefs that are starting to serve sprinklings
of soil, actually, on the plate.
So this is becoming very trendy, I guess.
But for those of you who can't stand the idea of that,
fermented foods are really a chance to eat soil bugs.
Have you ever thought about that?
Fermentation is actually just controlled rotting.
What it is, is you take the vegetable, and
you put it in salt.
And whenever you buy real fermented food, it should just
be vegetable and salt.
There should be nothing else on the ingredients.
If you want a couple herbs in there, fine.
But if it says vinegar, or preservative, or sugar, just
put it back on the shelf, OK.
It should be vegetables and salt.
And what happens is that the bacteria--
the lactobacillus that's sitting on the vegetable, that
came from where?
The soil--
it starts to ferment it.
It does its work.
And when it ferments, it multiplies.
It grows.
And so when you eat a little tablespoon of sauerkraut,
you're getting billions of bacteria.
And they're not just some bacteria that some scientists
dreamed up, which is what you get when you take those
probiotics, they're ones from the soil that you co-evolved
with for millions of years.
And so it makes sense.
Those are the ones you want to get.
Another pointer I gave to her-- we're always telling
people, buy food that's locally grown.
Buy food from a farmer that has a face.
You guys are busy.
You don't know how to do that.
Or you get it from your cafeteria here.
Let's say you're going to pick out a piece of fruit or a
vegetable--
the best way is to look at the piece of fruit and vegetable,
and smell it.
And if you can take a little taste, if it's a grape if it's
something like that, take a taste.
If it tastes wonderful, and if it smells good, chances are
it's been grown in a wonderful way.
Because most of our conventionally and mass-grown
stuff and stuff that's been grown through bad soil, its
seed has been either engineered or hybridized to
succeed anywhere and to be transportable and not
perishable and all of those things.
It's not a seed that has been maximized for taste and for
nutrient value.
And taste and nutrient value often run together.
So I really encourage people to actually get to know their
vegetables through their nose and their mouth and not
through their eyes.
And when you use your eyes, look for imperfection, OK?
Usually stuff that's been grown in a local and
sustainable way, it's going to be a little lopsided.
It's not going to look like some beauty queen that's,
like, puffed up and been given lipo and Botox and is
completely the same as the next one.
And the vegetables and fruits that are a little bug-eaten,
that's where most of the nutrients are, because
antioxidants are basically like a vegetable's
equivalent of a scab.
They're the place that it goes, that it actually uses to
fight whatever bug or whatever.
It's their immune system.
So look for the cabbage leaves that are a little moth-eaten.
Don't throw those outer ones away.
Or if someone else is throwing them away, you go eat them.
Choosing food with a story is a little different than
choosing local food, because we don't have the luxury
around this country of getting stuff fresh and local the way
that we can in San Francisco or the Bay Area.
But choose food where there's something about the farm on
the label in the store that says where it's grown, talks
about the farmer.
I was speaking with Wendell Berry, who's belongs in that
food philosopher category.
And he told me one of the ways that he vets his food is he
finds out does the farmer live on the farm?
So much of our commercial food, the farmer's wearing a
suit and working in a city somewhere.
And that farm is owned by someone who really isn't even
invested in the soil, whose grandfather and
great-grandfather wasn't part of it or who doesn't have the
plans to keep it wonderful so they can pass it on like an
heirloom to their children and grandchildren.
But the minute that the farmer becomes invested in the soil
and preferably owns that soil, they're going to take care of
it like the most precious family heirloom, and they're
going to give you, and they're going to give their own
family, delicious food.
Another important thing, and this is just
self-evident, is to cook.
Because that's when you start to use these materials.
And I know here you have this wonderful food served to you
during the day.
And I know that your chefs and your food procurers are doing
an amazing job here.
But when you go home, use the same kind of mindfulness.
And another important piece of it is to
give back to the soil.
I don't know how many of you live in a place where you can
do communal composting or you have access to your own
compost bins.
I mean, even if you live in a high-rise apartment in San
Francisco now, you can contribute to the green bins
with your food scraps.
Saving water, taking a shorter shower is a way to give back
to the soil.
Because any water you don't use, in the global picture,
can be diverted towards agriculture.
And connecting with nature, in the book, it's in the sixth
chapter of the book, I talk at length about all of these
chemical connections that we have with nature and how,
actually, there are messages when we work with plants, both
olfactory messages and so on, that can make us happy or can
change our outlook on things.
We are actually having this sort of secret conversation
with nature that we don't even realize.
So just getting around nature.
Farming is great.
Gardening can be great.
I wrote a chapter that took place in the Bronx in the book
with urban farmers.
And one of the researchers, who is studying urban farmers,
found out that they were healthier and thinner even if
they weren't growing vegetables, just because being
outside, perhaps connecting with the plants.
Who knows what it was?
And the most important thing is to treat your body the same
way as you would treat your food.
So anything you put on your body or put in your house,
think of it as something that eventually is going to end up
in your soil.
Because it will.
So when you're buying shampoos, or makeup, or
moisturizers, or cleaners for your car, or detergents for
your laundry, or your toothpaste, look for all of
those bisphenol As, those VOCs.
If it's something that you don't want to take immediately
and eat yourself, don't put it on your body, don't put it in
your house, because it will end up back in your food.
Vinegar is a fantastic cleaning resource.
I use it as a cleaning fluid for everything in my house.
Believe it or not, baking soda is the best shampoo I've ever
discovered, cocoa butter for your skin.
And these things have everything to do with the farm
and have everything to do with your soil.
And the other thing that I didn't write up there, and
this is really important, is to treat your body the same
way as a mindful farmer treats their soil, because sometimes
we care more about the soil than we do about ourselves,
which is very interesting.
So I shared all of this with Allie.
And we strategized about how she, in her San Francisco
life, could start to do this.
And she actually started to get a CSA box.
And she started to volunteer in a school garden, and just
made more time to be outside, and made more time to cook,
and started to have a different idea about how she
was choosing her food.
And she slowly started to get herself off of those shopping
bags full of medicine.
The one medicine--
because I saw her recently-- she still takes an
antidepressant.
But everything else, she stopped.
My guess is that the antidepressant, at this point,
it's a pretty low dose.
But she holds onto it.
And I'm totally fine with that.
I'm an integrative doctor, and I like to
straddle both worlds.
But who knows what piece of all of this worked?
Was it the subtle messages from the plants?
Was it the microbes?
Was it her just getting off all those medicines that were
interacting with her microbiome?
Who knows?
Was it her, just all of a sudden, having a different
outlook, a different view?
But about six months after she made these changes, just like
Erick, we sent lab tests on Allie.
And they came back.
All of her labs-- all of the subtle deficiencies in iron
and Vitamin D and so on, that all of those other
practitioners had been replacing--
they were normal.
And so I called Erick and told him, and he kind of high-fived
me over the phone.
So we both realized that we'd done pretty much the same
intervention.
So this picture is just to show you-- this comes from
another chapter of the book.
It's about raising resilient kids--
but this is the kind of connection that other cultures
have with their farms and their soil, and this kind of
trust that they have, that there's real health there.
And I just wanted to show you that.
But thank you so much for listening.
And please, spread the word about "Farmacology." Go ahead
and Facebook me.
I just started on Twitter.
But I've become a Twitter fanatic.
I think it's this great way to learn things.
And I share new studies every day.
Because I think you can tell, I'm a little bit of a science
geek on top of being a holistic healer.
And any new research I find, I like to put out via Twitter.
So follow me on Twitter.
And thank you so much.
It was such a pleasure.
And I'll take any questions you guys have.
[APPLAUSE]
FEMALE SPEAKER: If you have a question--
AUDIENCE: So there's obviously a richer microbiome in soil
than in air, sort of in the rest of the environment where
people live.
And I know there's some emerging research in that
area, too, about what kinds of microbes are in our different
environments.
And are you familiar with that?
How important do you think that is, to our health?
DAPHNE MILLER: We don't know.
I mean, like I said, the ocean is another enormous source.
And soil, obviously, is a very huge source.
I think it makes sense that the places where our food is
grown is where we're going to get the most beneficial
influence from that.
But in the chapter on resilience and resistance that
I talk about, there's a number of researchers that are
studying how farm kids have way less allergy and asthma
than children who live in urban areas.
And they are discovering that microbes in their
unpasteurized milk play a role, that actual microbes
that are just in the hay dust play a role.
A lot of the yeast that they are discovering, yeast that
even we thought were pathogenic or bad for you in
these urban environments, might
actually be good for you.
And they're even discovering that types of bacteria that we
equate with poisoning or disease, things like staph and
listeria, that in these little doses in farm environments,
they're actually protective.
So this is just a wide open field.
And next week, I'll have something new to tell you,
because the literature is just changing very quickly.
AUDIENCE: I heard Mary Roach was going to be talking about
her latest book.
And she was talking about transplants of, like, even
fecal matter into patients, that kind of thing.
I thought it was pretty interesting.
And I'm quite interested in the whole rise and shine kind
of cleansing type thing where people are replacing the biome
essentially in their bodies.
I was wondering you if you had a viewpoint on
people doing that?
DAPHNE MILLER: Well, when things go bad, then fecal
transplants actually can be unbelievably powerful.
Unfortunately, the FDA is coming down on it, because
it's foreign tissue, and that gets regulated.
It used to be sort of this underground thing that
gastroenterologists would do in some weird
places in the country.
But now, as it's getting more popular, I think, pretty soon
it's going to be a very regulated thing, like
everything.
But most of the time, we don't need to go to that extreme.
Most of the time we can actually nurture our biome by
eating these correct foods.
But there are some instances in my practice where I have
referred patients for fecal transplant.
But those are people who are really, really ill and where
all these other things haven't worked.
And the next question is, where did they get the healthy
feces from?
They usually get it from a parent or a family member,
someone who shares the candlesticks
with them, as well.
But it's kind of a last-ditch solution.
And another question that I get a lot is, how about those
over-the-counter supplements, those probiotics?
And even people like Justin Sonnenburg, what they're
really doing is trying to mine all this information to come
up with the ideal probiotic.
Because that's where the biotech is.
That's where the money is, right?
What I'm talking about, eating vegetables and getting to know
the soil, I'm never going to get rich on this.
But the problem with probiotics is, because just as
I was talking about, a lot of our microbiome is inherited.
So yours might look very different than the gentleman
in the red shirt behind you and maybe different from
someone in the checkered shirt here.
And so what is the ideal microbiome?
We don't know.
Should we be trying to look, once again, like those
children in Burkina Faso?
Probably.
But it's going to be really hard to get back there with
our modern-day diets, you know.
And it doesn't matter how many probiotics you
dump into the system.
That's just a living bacteria that needs to be nourished in
order for it to continue to grow there.
Does that makes sense?
Thank you so much.
[APPLAUSE]
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Daphne Miller: "What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing"

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Kaijie Jang 2017 年 5 月 21 日 に公開
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