The Ecology of Care: Medicine, Agriculture, Money, and the Quiet Power of Human and Microbial Communities
Reviewed by Ruah Swennerfelt
By Didi Pershouse. Mycelium Books, 2016. 301 pages. $19.95/paperback.Buy from QuakerBooks
“When we stand in the center and look at the whole, we can understand issues that once perplexed us. Healing the old rifts between science and religion, between humans and nature, between old wisdom and new discoveries, is a matter of becoming more and more aware of our common source. True health care, as we move forward, will trust the intelligence of the whole.”
Didi Pershouse brings together the many elements that concern us today into a fascinating blend of home healthcare and earthcare. As an acupuncturist in a small town in Vermont, she has learned lessons of how to care for her patients in a way that is affordable for them and for her. During the early years of her work she attempted to carry the debt of a mortgage, raise her children alone, and carry the costs of her medical office. She released herself from debt by giving up her house and moving into the building where she cared for her patients. And over the years she continued to lower the charges for her services by caring for multiple people at the same time with their permission. These innovations prompted her to consider the cost and dysfunctionality of medical care in the United States.
Her explorations into the medical world opened up new avenues of learning about how “the germ theory of disease joined with a profit-based economy, and unwittingly let to a ‘sterilization’ of agriculture, medicine, and even our social lives.” Pershouse takes us through her years of learning, from how money and medicine have joined forces to understanding the microbiome of the soil. We learn from experts who are working on carbon capture, transitions to a carbon-free world, and those working on alternatives to the current medical delivery system. Pershouse’s wisdom, kindness, and practice are expressed on every page. We learn through her experiences as though she is sitting across from us and sharing over a cup of coffee.
Her main premise reveals an important distinction: “The problem is not that we can’t live without fossil fuels. The problem is that we have forgotten how.” I was fascinated by her life and work. I could hardly put the book down. I encourage Friends to take this journey. Your view of today’s world and what is possible will be enriched.