How Organic farming can fix our broken food chain,
fight cancer and obesity,
& create a more stress-free life!
My beloved Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2010. While watching him painfully battle lung cancer for a year, I was determined to find a way to heal him physically. But even after spending years of my scientific training studying the biology of cancer, I was completely frustrated at how helpless I actually was at helping him fight this horrific disease. Only limited progress in the treatment of his type of cancer has been made in the last 30 years, but since hope springs eternal, I still planned to do whatever I could to slow down the disease. I spent a great deal of time reading the medical literature, as well as the book that has forever changed my way of thinking- ‘Anti-cancer a New Way of Life’ by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber- and I became completely convinced that diet, exercise, and meditation would have an equally significant effect on his prognosis as any type of medical intervention.
Dr. Servan-Schreiber was a very talented Neurobiologist and Physician who battled a very aggressive form of brain cancer that should have taken his life within a year but he survived an additional 16 years after using natural healing practices such as better nutrition. His work addressed issues centered around the ‘broken’ food chain and he has made several compelling arguments suggesting that conventional agricultural practices over the last 25 years have led to the production of unhealthy food that is contributing to the rise in cancer and obesity rates in this country. By using sound scientific principles, he moved the field of integrative medicine and oncology forward by promoting natural methods that help prevent the development of cancer and/or help bolster its treatment . “If we all have a potential cancer lying dormant in us,” he wrote, “each of us also has a body designed to fight the process of tumor development.” So I set out to grow my father and family an “anti-cancer” garden, growing colorful vegetables and fruits known to block processes like inflammation that fuel cancer growth, and assist the body in detoxifying toxins that activate cancer by protecting against free radicals, and foods that are known to activate the death of cancer cells (a process call apoptosis).
Getting him to eat good healthy food was easy; getting a Good ol’ boy to practice Yoga was all but laughable! But as long as I could remember, my Dad was the type of person that spent a lot of time alone with his own thoughts, and when he was ill he would smile when I told him that he already mastered the healing art of meditation whether he knew it or not. My father did find peace and enjoyment watching my children and I work in the garden- I can still see him sitting on the back of his truck bed, drinking his tea, and smiling as we planted seeds. Just as precious are the memories when I would haul up my load of sweet potatoes, kale, and tomatoes to his back porch and he would be so surprised at how fast things grew, and how little effort it took to produce our own food. I felt so proud that I could feed him something healthy that might heal him physically, and that I was positively changing his and my family’s way of life by giving nature the respect that it deserved. So many of us take our health for granted, and it is these little decisions that we make, like organic farming, that in the end can make the largest most profound effects in our lives and our bodies.
Organic gardening not only has numerous health benefits, but it changes our perception about the world, and fuels our passion to protect it. It relieves stress both physically and mentally. Anyone who has gardened knows that it is demanding physically but frankly I enjoy digging holes and moving soil more than walking on a treadmill! I especially enjoy the creativity & peace that Aquaponic gardening offers- sitting and watching my fish, listening to the moving water, and breathing in the fresh air that the plants are producing is a form of meditation in and of itself . Gardening also relieves stress on several other levels as well. The amount of money you put into any garden can tripled in value with the produce that you get out of it, and in today’s economic climate that can have a dramatic & positive effect on a family budget. And with every succeeding year, the costs of a garden decreases with each perennial planting.
But more importantly, in these economic times when most families are worried about job security, knowing that one can feed themselves and their family is empowering. As a child my family struggled financially and I remember my Father telling me not to worry about it, ‘They (bill collectors) can’t eat you’, he would jokingly say. But this silly statement wasn't a joke to me- I took that comment to heart and still, to this day, I manage my own stress by realizing that ‘they can’t eat me’ - I have no real attachment to possessions and my mind and soul belong to only me, so what can anyone really take away of value? As my Dad would say time and time again, we have to remember not to take any of this too seriously- you can survive one way or another- it's called being resourceful!
When it comes right down to it, we as humans have the ability to be completely independent of society- we can live entirely off the grid and with a little ingenuity we can even learn to make our own bio-fuel and electricity, making us even less dependent on society woes. If I can feed my family by ‘living off the fat of land’ then it gives me a sense of security and takes away the fear of being a victim of economics. That simple outlook is what drives me to teach others, especially young adults, the skills they need to be self-reliant.
I believe that healthy and stress-free lifestyles will prove to have the largest impact on preventing the onset of diseases like cancer, diabetes, and obesity. The loss of my Dad in 2011, as well as a dear childhood friend (John Hannon) who I also lost to lung cancer 6 months earlier, is what drives me forward to educate people about healthy food choices. The memories of both these beautiful men remind me to live for and find eternity in each moment, accept the limited life we have and be committed to making the most of it, give back more than what we take, embrace each laugh that we are lucky to have, dance while we still can, love freely and unconditionally, and protect the Earth, the Plants, and all the living creatures that provide US with this wonderful thing we call LIFE. So to my Dad who remains in my heart forever- thanks for teaching me how to fish, thanks for teaching me to love the land, and thanks for smiling down on me while I am Aquaponicing!
I feel you in the wind and in the warmth of the sun
... Little Rach