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Keynote: Farming is Medicine: Transforming our World through Agroecology

Saturday, January 23, 2021

9:45 - 11:00am PT

With rising temperatures, in the midst of a pandemic, surrounded by wildfires and social breakdown, the ways of interacting that have brought us to this moment are proving unhealthy, unsustainable and gravely dangerous. Drawing on data from the health sciences, history, ecology and soil science, physician, writer and farmer’s wife Dr. Rupa Marya will describe how agroecology can serve as the leading edge of transformational practices that can directly heal what ails us. Human health starts in the soil, mediated through the dialogue between the soil and gut with their respective microbiome. How we tend the soil must also reflect how we tend the people who tend the soil, how we tend the water, and how we tend to each other. Boldly articulating the need for a culture of care, she will show how colonialism fundamentally altered key ways of relating that held our health and the health of the planet in balance. Through the impact of decolonizing food and medicine, farmers and farmworkers play a crucial role as the ultimate stewards of our health.

Rupa Marya

Rupa Marya is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco in the Division of Hospital Medicine with a focus on Social Medicine. She is a co-founder of the Do No Harm Coalition, a group of healthcare workers committed to changing social structures that make health impossible for different groups of people. 

Rupa’s work in social advocacy in health has earned her trust from the indigenous communities where she lives, in Ohlone territory and in places where she has served, such as Lakota territory.

In 2016, she was invited to Standing Rock to assist with medical response to increasing state violence towards indigenous people protecting their sovereign land in the face of the Dakota Access Pipeline. 

Through her investigations, she has been developing an understanding of the greatest health challenges we face, including climate change, as a consequence of colonialism and the interruption of traditional ways of caring. At the invitation of Lakota elders, she is helping to develop a clinic to decolonize food and medicine in Lakota territory to serve the indigenous communities, the Mni Wiconi Health Clinic and Farm.

Rupa advocates deeply for creating a culture of care as the most effective way to manifest impactful change in population health. She believes the interruption of ways of caring through colonial structures disproportionately causes the suffering of Black, Brown and Indigenous people around the world. Through changing those colonial structures and through reasserting the primacy of our relationships to the earth, to our foods and to one another, holistic health for all becomes achievable. As a physician in partnership with regenerative farmer Benjamin Fahrer, Rupa is studying how regenerative farming practices directly impact human health through the connections between the respective microbiota of the gut and soil.

Currently Rupa is writing a book making a case for a global culture of care with writer, economist and activist Raj Patel, entitled Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice. The book is a boldly original analysis of health and sickness, due to be released by Farrar, Straus & Giroux and Penguin Press in August 2021. In addition to her work in medicine and writing, Rupa is the composer and front-woman for Rupa and the April Fishes, a polyglot band who has traveled to over 29 countries sharing musical soundscapes of building an alternative world that is beautiful, inspiring, deep and empowering. She attributes her holistic view of health and wellness as the direct outcome of playing music professionally for over 20 years.

Track and Session Info

Session: 
Keynote | 9:45am

Date and Location

Day: 
Saturday
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Thank you to our EcoFarm 2021 sponsors!