PYP 121: Dr. Ron Weiss on the Healing Power of Farming

ron-weissAfter 7 years in the emergency room and 15 years running a traditional medical clinic in suburban New Jersey, Dr. Ronald Weiss decided to radically change his practice.

He moved to a centuries-old working farm in rural New Jersey and began treating his patients with fresh, organic, sustainably grown produce.

Today his practice, Ethos Health, is one of the most exciting, innovative, and lowest-tech “miracles” in medicine.

I learned about Dr. Weiss from a segment on the Today show, which you can watch here:

And while we're doing the video thing, here's a short, moving portrait of Dr. Weiss and his background and motivation:

I was so inspired by his story, his commitment, and his wholistic view of health, I knew I had to get Dr. Weiss on the Plant Yourself Podcast.

I called the number on his website, and got the following recorded message (I'm paraphrasing): “Press 1 for the doctor. Press 2 for the farmer.”

I was utterly enchanted.

Luckily for me (and you!), Dr. Weiss is a generous man, and agreed to what turned into an in-depth and fascinating interview. We covered:

  • Dr. Weiss's frustration with the limitations of the Emergency Room to treat end stage chronic disease
  • how Dr. Weiss's father's pancreatic cancer – and 100% plant-based treatment – changed his outlook on medicine
  • the lack of evidence in 1992 for plant-based treatment and prevention of disease – and the importance of anecdotal data and case studies to guide initial research
  • early plant-based successes: acne and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Dr. Weiss's initial reluctance to discuss his protocols with colleagues
  • key barriers to medical acceptance of plant-based treatments of disease
  • the medical bias toward sustaining the illness with medications vs removing root causes
  • one of the first things Dr. Weiss learned in med school: “Doctors rarely cure anything.”
  • our most common diseases are food-borne (so they can be stabilized, reversed, and even cured)
  • why medical practice needs to become “evidence-based” to embrace whole plant foods to prevent and remediate illness
  • what kinds of evidence Dr. Weiss regards as most convincing
  • the current debate over saturated fats and diabetes
  • how studies can be manipulated to produce any result the funders want
  • the importance of thinking in systems (for individual health, for soil fertility, for planetary wellbeing)
  • how Wendell Berry influenced Dr. Weiss's medical practice
  • why Dr. Weiss “bought the farm” – looking toward the future after having children
  • the connections between human health and land/soil health
  • the many problems with our current system of growing plants
  • conservation of matter (nutrients) in our food system
  • and much more…

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.


Dr. Weiss's medical/farm practice: Ethos Health

The Mediterranean Diet Study


The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website,

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