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Amish Asthma Rates Offer Clues to Preventing Mental Illness

About 20 miles southeast of South Bend, Indiana, straddling US highway 6, lies the farming village of Nappanee, population 6,692. The town has the distinction of being the only municipality in the United States with a name in which each letter is repeated once.

Nappanee is also known as the “southern gateway to Indiana Amish country.”

A few miles north of the city, a family we’ll call Stoltzfus (a common Amish name) runs a small dairy farm that has been in the family for many generations. A traditional Amish farm, the Stoltzfus operation is decidedly low tech: Horses, not tractors, do the heavy work, and the family feeds and milks its cows by hand. The distinctive red barn sheltering the farm animals sits right next to the farmhouse. The Stoltzfus family uses manure instead of fertilizer and never employs pesticides on its 80 acre plot.

The Stoltzfuses are typical of Amish farmers in the region in most respects, including the happy circumstance that none of the Stoltzfus children suffer from asthma.

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