Grass-fed Cows and Sustainable Medical Practices–A Healthy Cycle of Interdependence

I have a friend who brings me raw, unpasteurized milk, homemade yogurt, butter, and sour cream—all from cows feeding exclusively on grass, summer and winter. It all tastes incredible, and even better knowing that it comes directly from someone I know and like.

He is in excellent health, only needing a tune-up when he falls off a tractor or works a little too hard. At those times, I give him acupuncture, or a homeopathic remedy, a little hands on healing, and a bowl of soup, when we have time. During his visits to my clinic, he can lie down, go to a deep place of relaxation, and feel his energy being balanced out.

Essentially, we are doing each other the same favor—he is giving me food that is deeply nourishing, I am giving him health care that is deeply nourishing. Neither of us is harming the planet as we do it, and there is nothing in our work that is anything but positive, no side effects or toxins downstream. We both enjoy our own work, and benefit from each other’s. We trust each other’s work, knowing full well that only the best intentions go into it.

There is something very satisfying about the fact that his food gives me the energy to do my work, and my work gives him the energy to produce his food. It is just another cycle of nature, and one that has been going on for thousands and thousands and thousands of years, all over the world—the healer heals the community, the community feeds the healer, (since the healer doesn’t always have time to milk the cows.)

If I was practicing pharmaceutical medicine, and he was practicing chemical agribusiness, my “care” would be very different. I wouldn’t know him very well because he would be rushed in and out of his office visits. There certainly wouldn’t be time for a bowl of soup or casual conversation. Most of the drugs I gave him would be masking the symptoms but not actually balancing out his body, and often would create long term side effects which I would then treat with more drugs, without ever actually solving the initial problem. According to the American Medical Association Journal, he would have a substantial chance of dying from the drugs I gave him, and an even higher chance of developing serious complications. Adverse drug reactions to drugs properly administered are estimated to be somewhere between the fourth and sixth leading cause of death in the United States.[1] Standard medicine as a whole–if you take into account medical and pharmaceutical errors, adverse side effects, bedsores, and hospital-acquired infections—is the number one cause of death in the U.S. Higher than heart attacks, car accidents, cancer, and all the rest.[2]

His cows, meanwhile, would be eating pesticides, herbicides, genetically engineered products, growth hormones, antibiotics, and other strange non-grass items like leftover cakes and cookies, and blood of other animals. If he brought me the milk and meat from those cows, I would be absorbing little if any calcium, my gut would be off balance from having pasteurized milk without any living enzymes, and further imbalanced by the antibiotics, which kill off the good flora necessary to maintain good health. The hormones fed to the cows would be interfering with my own hormones, making me more susceptible to certain cancers. Essentially, I would be slowly accumulating the residue of all the chemicals that the cow’s “food” was grown with (to kill off every bug, weed, and microbe around it) and all the medicines given to the cows to make up for the cow’s poor nutrition and housing.

At the same time, we both would be creating a nasty stream of waste from our practices, which, combined with all the other agribusiness and pharmaceutical industries would kill off whole landscapes, rivers, and parts of the coastline, leaving large dead zones in which nothing good can flourish.

This also is a cycle, a short but nasty cycle that has been going on for less than 100 years. An unnatural cycle, that just barely arrived, and yet it threatens to ruin everything: our planet, our health, our historical way of life, and even our happiness.

To turn this cycle around doesn’t actually take that much, except a commitment to return to ways that have already been proven sound–sustainable agriculture and medicine. It also requires a commitment to stop being threatened by the fearful voices that say the only safety from germs is to create sterility. A sterile world is a dead world. A fertile world lives and thrives on interrelatedness and interdependence.

[1] Incidence of adverse drug reactions in hospitalized patients: a meta-analyses of prospective studies
Lazarou J, Pomeranz BH, Corey PN.
JAMA 1998 Apr 15;279(15):1200-5.

This study analyzed 39 prospective U.S. studies to determine the incidence of serious and fatal adverse drug reactions (ADRs). Serious ADRs were defined as those requiring hospitalization or resulting in permanent damage. Only ADRs requiring hospital admission or occurring in the hospital were included in the analysis. Overall, the incidence of serious ADRs was 6.7 per 100 patients and that of fatal ADRs was 0.32 per 100 patients. Extrapolation of these data to the entire U.S. population revealed that in 1994 alone, over 2.2 million patients experienced a serious ADR and 106,000 died from this complication. These figures place ADRs between the fourth and sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. These are conservative estimates, since they don’t take in consideration possible ADRs, errors in drug administration, patient non-compliance, overdose, drug abuse, therapeutic failures and injuries and deaths occurring in nursing home patients.

[2]“Death by Medicine” By Gary Null, PhD; Carolyn Dean MD, ND; Martin Feldman, MD; Debora Rasio, MD; and Dorothy Smith, PhD

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