Sunday, March 21, 2010

Farming & Medicine

The first seeds are planted for our garden (beets, mixed greens, and cilantro) and I’ve been reading The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka. This book is opening my mind to the world of farming. Most surprising though, is how this little book about farming is also about my world of medicine.

An excerpt from my reading today that parallels many of my thoughts on modern medicine and medical research:
Before researchers become researchers they should become philosophers. They should consider what the human goal is, what it is that humanity should create. Doctors should first determine at the fundamental level what it is that human beings depend on for life.

In applying my theories to farming, I have been experimenting in growing my crops in various ways, always with the idea of developing a method close to nature. I have done this by whittling away unnecessary agricultural practice.

Modern scientific agriculture, on the other hand, has no such vision. Research wanders about aimlessly, each researcher seeing just one part of the infinite array of natural factors which affect harvest yields. Furthermore, these natural factors change from place to place and from year to year…

Modern research divides nature into tiny pieces and conducts tests that conform neither with natural law nor with practical experiences. The results are arranged for the convenience of research, not according to the needs of the farmer. To think that these conclusions can be put to use with invariable success in the farmer’s field is a big mistake…

Even if you can explain how metabolism affects the productivity of the top leaf when the average temperature is eighty-four degrees (Fahrenheit), there are places where the temperature is not eight-four degrees. And if the temperature is eighty-four degrees in Ehime this year, next year it may only be seventy-five degrees. To say that simply stepping up metabolism will increase starch formation and produce a large harvest is a mistake. The geography and topography of the land, the condition of the soil, its structure, texture, and drainage, exposure to sunlight, insect relationships, the variety of seed used, the method of cultivation – truly an infinite variety of factors – must all be considered. A scientific testing method which takes all relevant factors into account is an impossibility.

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