Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Quesnel Cariboo Observer.

Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Quesnel Cariboo Observer.

FOREST INK: Another reason to head to the library

Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Quesnel Cariboo Observer

Another reason for supporting the local library is a new book in their reference section. “Inflamed” by Rupa Marya who is an associate professor of medicine at the University of California and Raj Patel who is an associate professor of nutrition at the University of Texas.

The authors take us on a tour of the eight most important systems of our bodies, the immune, circulatory, digestive, respiratory, reproductive, connective, endocrine and nervous systems.

Inflammation is connected to the food we eat, the air we breathe and the diversity of the microbes living inside us which regulates everything from our brain’s development to how our immune systems function.

Many past and present practices on the forests, grasslands, oceans, rivers and agricultural lands have reduced the value of the food coming from these systems which in turn impacts our health.

The authors also look at the hidden relationships between our biological systems and the profound injustices of our political and economic systems.

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Besides inflammation, our health is also impacted by the number of traumatic events we experienced as children and to traumas endured by our ancestors.

The authors also compare the body systems to other plant and animal functions, like a lack of biodiversity which often leads to unhealthy foods, causing many health problems with humans and our domestic animals.

One review of the book describes it as impeccably researched (my calculation shows 27 per cent of the book consists of reference notes) dealing with the lasting impact of colonialism and discrimination.

We have been introduced to many of these topics before through social media and through articles written in our local newspapers but this new book gives a very comprehensive and documented review relating many different topics under a decolonizing heading.

The last part of the book deals with deep medicine which is a new way of looking at our existing health system.

As described in the introduction, modern health practitioners are not trained as healers but as biomedical technicians. When causes of poor health lie outside of the patient, in the environment or in society, doctors are frequently at a loss.

In the book’s introduction, the authors describe the use oral histories, historical source material and peer reviewed literature from several branches of knowledge to build our understanding of the interactions between the body, society and the planet.

Decolonizing is not something that can be done alone, but it is already happening in communities where land is being rematriated, where solidarity communities are renewing their relationships with local ecology and retelling their stories some of which have been silenced for centuries.

For Indigenous communities in North America the act of connecting young people back to their ancestral lands is cutting suicide rates without the use of western medicine and pharmaceuticals.

Cultural connecting and dignity are in themselves determinants of health and are relevant to non-Indigenous as well.

Jim Hilton is a professional agrologist and forester who has lived and worked in the Cariboo Chilcotin for the past 40 years. Now retired, Hilton still volunteers his skills with local community forests organizations.

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