Rural System's

Rural System Health

Resources, by most definitions, are for people, so it seems inappropriate to concentrate an entire rural and natural resource-based system on the physical and biological parts of that system and to avoid dealing with the human health aspects of the system. We already approach human aspects as part of the system (socioeconomic, value systems, esthetic, recreation and ecotourism). The vastness as well as the professional specialties are great barriers. Nevertheless, people in the rural areas need to know about healthful diets, exercise, avoiding trauma and if not, emergency treatment. Their remotness and time to travel to trauma and health centers can be life threatening. The new energy costs of such travel can be very great, even cost prohibitive. In 2006, 85 percent of hospital CEOs expect technological advances were likely to shift care to outpatient settings but costs of doing so are high and training will be essential.

Wellness is a state of human efficiency. Un-wellness is costly. Gaining and holding wellness is a personal, family, and social responsibility.

Rural people need to know about pesticides and their uses and the effects of toxicants in their lives. They need to know about pollutants and secondary effects of combinations of substances that may become toxic. They need to know the benefits and costs of organic gardening and livestock raising. They need to know how to keep fit now that medical science has allowed increased life expectancy. We work at some of these issues and eagerly seek assistance and cooperators.

See database of organizations dealing with health and the environment. Also see Rachel's Precaution Reporter, and the Science and Environmental Health Network.

There are forming sections of this Internet unit on health and the rural environmental system:

  1. Human Health
  2. Ecological and Forest Health a unit under development
  3. Health as a condition of employment
  4. Zoonoses (or diseases of wild animals transmitted to people). See wildlife diseases and the national center.

Human Health

Objectives for a human health component of a planning system are suggested.

Human heart related disease prevention at especially which provides health care providers quickly a credible abundant source of heart and stroke information.

A Heart attach assessment tool is at

There are health details that need to be aggregated or promoted separately. For example, Gregory Freund, M.D. advances that soluble fiber in diets can protect against and speed recovery from bacterial infections. Eight grams of soluble fiber per day and 28 grams total fiber for women, 36 for men per day are recommended. Sources: fruits, vegetables, legumes, berries, flax seed. Example: medium artichoke = 4.7 grams of soluble fiber. may provide too broad a search. The assessment tool allows people to record, save, and follow health progress.

Notes on planning for dealing with treatable disease in villages.

Key web sites are


Beyond any explanation, people ignore preventingand concentrate on treating disease or the unhealthy condition. The cost differences are orders of magnitude a difference of a few dollars to the worth of a life. The ease of work is as different as taking a a few tablets to tending a person through the last years as an invalid or death much before life-expectancy.This section on prevention will be expanded. We can start with: Information on immunizations , vaccines, and the diseases they prevent. In 2005 there was an immunization hot line at 1-800-232-2522.

Gender-based Medicine

It is now realized that men and women are significantly different in their susceptibility to disease problems and respond very differently to treatments for them. This has been found for heart disease and lung cancer and has been suggested for other diseases. The same diseases affect men and women in different ways. Osteoporosis is notable in its different effects on women than on men. Genes, hormones and life style cause the major differences in susceptibility to lung cancer, in heart attach symptoms, and others. It will be interesting to follow discoveries of other differences and how they might affect citizens and how they influence their own treatments. See Society for Women's Health Research.

SeeChi Concept for insurance-based health incentives.

Preliminary notes on wildlife disease and health.

(from 2005 email) If we were to use the USDA daily recommendation of 2,000 calories per day, what would be the corn farmer's share of the food dollar? It may surprise you to learn that the farmer’s share of the cost of your food is about $12.00 --per year! For less than one nickel per day man could survive on corn. This conclusion is based on the current market price for corn of $1.40 per bushel (much of this year’s crop selling for even less). Many Americans have no idea that a bushel of corn is 56 pounds of food.

Many of the things we eat are raised and/or processed from this basic form of food (as well as other similar staple crops with similar costs per calorie). According to USDA (, the monthly cost of food for an adult male in the U.S., under their "Thrift Plan" scenario, is $131 per month or $1,573 per year.

The basic component for a year's food supply (in this case corn) is only $12.07, and the cheapest a person can eat according to the USDA is $1,573. This means that through feeding of livestock, shipping, handling and/or processing, the food sector receives well over one hundred times its original investment.

Ecological Health

See preliminary work on Land Health.

Lasting Forests Health Concept


While we are concerned for human health in general and know that when some of us are diseased, then there are risks to many of us. We are a social entity and all suffer in often small ways when any one is unhealthy.

Poor health suggests that employees may miss working periods or that they may not work at full potential, at least not at a fair-market rate for each contracted hour of work. Poor health can reduce production, but may result in personal accidents and harm and lost work among those around the unhealthy person. Simultaneously, good health creates an atmosphere within Rural System for the joy of work for the right reasons, comradship, consistent and predicatble team action, and reduced periods when others must take up the work for the missing or reduced work of others.

Within Rural System, Inc. we expect employees and members to engage actively in gaining and maintaining their health. We develop and seek ways to provide readily-obtained indices of that health and provide related insurance and incentives. Health is a risk and cost reducer and we attempt to help people to get that reduction and estimate and report those numbers. We welcome university, hospital, and foundation participation in this quest that influences every avenue to potential success.

Rural people living in places of continuous high quality of life, have a natural incentive to provide food that’s healthy for people and the environment. Food supply can be met in a variety of ways which have consequences in terms of nutrition, disease risk, public health, environmental health, social and economic well being. These are linked in a complex ways. From the way food is grown, to the way it is packaged, shipped, consumed and discarded, the rural region's food purchasing decisions can play an important role, both direct and indirectly, in social as well as ecological health. Rural System works with citizens to adopt food procurement policies that:

...and thus demonstrate an understanding of the inextricable links between human, public, and ecosystem health.

Nationwide, high gasoline prices are having a greater affect on the lives of rural Americans than those living in urban areas. As one would expect, The Consumer Federation of America released a report this month demonstrating that rural individuals drive 15% more than urban drivers. Furthermore, rural drivers spend 20% more on gasoline. Combined with lower incomes, rural Americans are feeling the affects of high gas prices this summer. 2007

A meeting was held with her shortly afterwards

Email to Dr. Roberto of Instritute for culture, etc. at Va Tech

Dear Dr. Roberto:

I was delighted to learn of your directorship within the new Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment (ISCE; ) and to learn from your website a little about the Institute. I am now retired from the College of Natural Resources and still loyal. I am independently working on a system to improve conditions for people in western Virginia and the coalfield ( A capsule is at ../aRuralSystem/Capsule.html . There are many cooperators (but few within the College) and so I venture to suggest we discuss separately two topics of possible mutual interest.

An evident one is environmental impacts and I am guessing that you have a unique orientation to that topic. I taught systems ecology at Tech for many years and have related suggestions on (1) “sustainability” and its varied meanings, (2) entrepreneurial strategies for reducing impacts on the vast private lands of the US and the globe, and (3) impacts of large developments (e.g., mountain-top removal and high voltage powerlines) and massive change on communities and their people.

The other topic that we might discuss for collaborative work might be that from your Institute’s statement: Human development and behavioral health (e.g., life span issues, aging issues, children, adolescents, adulthood, family, community, child and adult health behavior).

I have had discussions and correspondence with a member of the Craig County, Virginia, school board. We imagine a comprehensive unifying human health system being developed in and for that adjacent county, integrated with the school system, making it nationally known and a prototype having:


The August inflight magazine of Etihad Airways, the National Airline of the United Arab Emirates, carried an article by Kathryn Clark highlighting the work of featured speakers Anna Lappe and Dan Barber. We reprint it below with thanks to Etihad (

Best wishes, Staff of the E. F. Schumacher Society 140 Jug End Road Great Barrington, MA 01230 USA

"The Climate Change Diet" from Etihad Inflight Magazine August 2008 By Kathryn Clark

It's official: food production is bad for the planet. Terrible, actually. Eighteen percent of man-made greenhouse gases come from livestock production alone. That's more than the entire transportation industry combined. These figures come from a several-hundred-page 2006 UN report and, perhaps for the first time, highlight how food production has exacerbated climate change.

In the US, one person well versed in the pernicious relationship between food production and climate change is the dynamic Anna Lappe. This young American author and sought-after public speaker has acquired celebrity for her work with sustainability, food politics, globalization and social change. She has been named part of "Time" magazine's "Eco who's who," and in 'Contribute' Magazine's "21 under 40s making a difference". Lappe suggests that instead of throwing our forks away in despair, the time is nigh for us humans to eat our planet back to health.

Anna has made it her mission to raise awareness about the problem and untangle viable solutions. "There has been a huge increase in awareness about climate change, but until now, food has been an invisible part of the problem ­ and the solution," says Anna. The reason is that many aspects of the food system ­ how it's grown, what's used in the process, how it's transported, how it's packaged ­ fall into disparate categories. "It's challenging to tease out answers," she says. "But the figure I use when estimating the total greenhouse gas emissions cause by food production is 31 percent."

The two main culprits are livestock production and the large scale chemicalised, fossil fuel reliant farms that provide produce to many of the world's supermarkets, hotels and restaurants. "These farms are by design addicted to fossil fuels ­ the chemicals used are fossil fuel based," Anna says. "They use nitrogen-based fertilizers."

The effects are reverberating around the developing world. Ironically, the small scale farmers who are growing food in a sustainable manner are suffering the most, sometimes losing their farms to climatic anomalies caused by climate change. "The worst thing is that we {humans} are producing enough food to feed everyone," Anna says. "The problem is that people can't afford to buy that food. This is a food 'price' crisis ­ it's a very different scenario from a food crisis."

What does this mean for ordinary people? Anna and her colleagues have crafted a climate-friendly diet, and it's surprisingly easy to swallow. "I stress five key diet choices," Anna says. The first is not to buy into industrial, fossil-fuel-based agriculture. "Choose organic food, or food from chemical free local farms." The second, and most important, is to eat less meat. "People in the US and Europe have a huge amount of meat in their diet. Most people can cut back. No one has to go cold turkey ­ just skip meat in your breakfast, or eat it a few times per week." The fourth is to eat whole foods: food in its natural state. "A vast amount of energy goes into processing fruit, vegetables and grains. Eating whole foods will lower your carbon footprint."

Anna's fourth rule is one that rings around the world ­ buy local food. "This simply makes sense," Anna says. "It lowers your food miles by using less transport, keeps local farmers on their land and keeps money in the local community." The fifth recommendation is to buy food with the least packaging. "Packaging is a huge aspect of food production," Anna says. "Bottling water also has a weighty toll. When it's safe, drink tap water."

How does all this sit with our fine dining industry, which favours such geographically diverse products as TTsarskaya oysters from Cancale and wagyu beef from Japan? Among those fine dining restaurants on the case is the New York fine dining institution Blue Hill, which sells itself on its country credentials and juicy produce, much of which comes from the restaurant's farm in the Berkshires. Blue Hill proprietor and head chef Dan Barber explains his concept of climate friendly food. "It's food grown for its locality, picked at the perfect moment and purchased direct from the farmer," he says. "Nothing is lost in nutrition or flavour ­ or spent on the environment ­ during storage and transportation."

Local ingredients offer a flavour and a story better than any seasoning I could provide," Dan says, citing his land activist grandmother and farmers such as Eliot Coleman as inspirations. "From December through early April, 20 percent of our food comes from producers within a 250-mile radius, including Blue Hill Farm and the Stone Barns Center. That number swells to 90 percent in summer."

Following this ideology in a fine dining restaurant is not always easy. "The food from the farm next door is sometimes more inconvenient than food from thousands of miles away ­ that's the irony of our food system," Dan says. "I could get on the phone and have a fresh batch of beautiful produce from California or South America at the doorstep tomorrow for a fraction of the cost." But this is the creative challenge. "Seasonal cooking inspires more than it restricts ­ it might inspire because it restricts, how about that?" Dan muses. "When tomato season arrives, I want to see them in every dish!"

Dan and his team's efforts have not gone unnoticed. Blue Hill and its sister restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns received best new restaurant awards from the esteemed James Beard Foundation. Dan's advice to other restaurateurs is to get to know farmers. "Shop with the same farmer every week in one way or another," he says.

Meanwhile, Anna has traveled to some 65 American cities delivering her message. Support and encouragement have flowed along the way as awareness of the issue begins to simmer. "The media plays a huge role by providing people with positive solutions that they can be part of," Anna says. "In last month's 'O' {Oprah's magazine}, the second point in her 'top three ways to help the planet' was to eat less meat."

"There is a huge opportunity for our governments to figure out how to deal with climate change," Anna says. "We spend billions of tax dollars on farm commodities hat have been produced in an unsustainable manner. I hope that when the Farm Bill is next reviewed in 2012 that there will be a radical redirection of taxpayers' dollars away from unsustainable food systems." In the meantime, Anna says, all we can do is make our own change by eating for the planet.


DEET may be harmful and some people are strongly affected by it. For mosquito protection on trips with many people consider:

  • picaridin (Cutter Advanced brand name)
  • oil of lemon eucalyptus (Repel lemon eucalyptus; OFF! Botanicals, and Fight Bite Plant-based Insecticide repellent)
  • others may be:
    • geraniol (MosquitoGuard or Bite Stop)
    • citronella (Natrapel0)
    • herbal extracts (Beat it Bug Bister)
    • essential oils (All terrain)
    • combinations including: Herbal Armor, Buzz Away, Green Ban, Bite Blocker

Perhaps you will share ideas with me about some of the topic(s) above .


Rural System
Robert H. Giles, Jr.
Februrary 7, 2007