Blog

A selection of our writings from 2009 to the present. If you'd like to keep up to date with our latest posts, please subscribe below.

Towards a microbiome approach to culture and economy (or, Re-dreaming a gender-distributed science) with Gemma Smithson

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Hello dear Subscribers and other curious visitors,

Over the past week we’ve hosted three new volunteers at the School of Applied Neopeasantry, who have been learning-helping with the harvesting and storing of this warm season’s abundance. We’ve been harvesting and preserving summer crops and also prepping soils to plant winter crops while there’s still heat in the giving earth, here in Djaara Mother Country.

While we’ve been working hard – doing-saying, lifemaking, neopeasanting, demonstrating the possibilities of living a low-impact ecological-economy – Tully, Anisa, Gemma, and we mob have also engaged in many conversations.

On Gemma’s last day, she asked whether she could record Patrick for a university assignment. Gemma is studying environmental science and has, true to her openness and curiosity, organised two radically different placements for her summer work experience – with Artist as Family and with Parks Victoria. Go Gemma!

We have edited this little interview, recorded on Gemma’s phone in the garden at Tree Elbow, into a twelve minute excerpt, and we’re sharing it as a way of giving an insight into some of the subjects/conversations we have with volunteer-students at the school, this time occurring at the end of a neopeasant lunch, just before we all headed off for siesta.

We hope you enjoy this little moment (12min listen) with Gemma, pictured here with Meg and Patrick.

As always, your input, questions and comments are valuable to our readers and to us, so please feel free to offer up what’s living in you after listening in. Also, we have a place available next month if you’re interested in volunteering and learning with us. Head here for more details and please get in touch if you’re keen to join us.

Hot chips & cigarettes (or, how government regulators fail us, again and again)

A post by Dr Patrick Jones, audio version (approx. 5mins)

 

There’s a common argument in polite Australia that goes something like this, ‘Governments regulate industry and all is well in the world. We don’t need to watch corporate activity, our regulators have that all covered.’ But is this assumption naive and hazardous to our health?

I accompanied Blackwood and some friends to watch the cricket at the MCG last week. The advertising at the ground that bombarded us throughout the day included fast food, alcohol, gambling, and microbe extermination products. You can see this for yourself if you watch the highlights.

During the day, Blackwood, now a confirmed cricket tragic like his dad, was kindly offered a bucket of hot chips, and I agreed to let him have it. Although cigarette companies are banned from sports advertising (which took decades of activism including Australia’s own unique chapter, BUGAUP), this week I discovered that this small bucket of chips that Blackwood consumed may have had the same level of toxins as him smoking a bunch of cigarettes.

I’ve been invited to write a paper on environmental poisons for an Italian academic journal, which is providing an opportunity to update my research regarding environmental pollutants and toxins in both bodies and biomes. So, I thought I’d use this period (over the next several months) to share snippets of my research and publish interesting morsels here for readers.

This week I’m taking a look at the humble potato chip (or French fry, if you’re from the US), from the vantage point of a 2018 study on fried food toxins.

Our taste receptors are excited by salty and fatty foods. The fast food industry exploits our weak spot for such nutrients or chemical compounds, which were not so prevalent as we evolved into a species with unique human taste abilities.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, I’m probably not telling you anything new. However, if you’ve been looking for research to back up your hunch that fried hot chips are likely very toxic in the body, then please read on.

Our family has been avoiding hot chips bought at a store for many years now, preferring to grow our own spuds and animal fats organically and cooking them at home. But, every now and then (like at the cricket) we soften our stance and indulge. Is this such a stupid thing to do?

A study entitled, Chronic non-communicable disease risks presented by lipid oxidation products in fried foods (2018), although limited in its frame of reference – i.e. it would have been more useful to switch butter for ghee, and add animal fats as part of the trial – it is nonetheless a good indicator of what we have suspected, intuitively for some time, that is – if you are buying hot chips from fast food outlets, perhaps don’t.

The study finds that in a “154g potato chip serving [the] aldehyde contents are not dissimilar to those arising from the smoking of a (daily) allocation of 25 tobacco cigarettes…”

That there exists cell-damaging, carcinogenic aldehyde toxins in supposedly benign foods like fried potato chips is yet another example of government regulation not serving people, but rather serving the profit interests of industry foremost, while simultaneously eroding human health.

Of course anyone paying attention knows governments and industry now sleep in the same bed, and as we saw so outstandingly with the Covid response, there is no longer even a covering up of their flagrant lovemaking.

To have fried foods duly regulated by government oversight is never going to occur within a political system that has been captured by every large industry across the globe. Such oversight can only come from individuals, households and communities getting informed from sources they can trust, and acting on what they find out.

But if we cannot trust, or haven’t got the time to research the things we consume, then living by a simple precautionary principle, like ‘if it’s fast it’s probably toxic,’ is going to serve us well, and keep us from the ever grubby hands of the pharmaceutical or illness industry.

Your comments, research and experiences with environmental toxins that have been enabled by falsely regulated industries and corporatised journalism, are most welcome here.

And lastly if you’d like to listen to a couple of sweet evolutionary biologists discussing the scientific paper mentioned in this piece, head here.

(The citation for the paper referenced is: Grootveld M, Percival BC, Grootveld KL. Chronic non-communicable disease risks presented by lipid oxidation products in fried foods. HepatoBiliary Surg Nutr 2018;7(4):305-312. doi: 10.21037/hbsn.2018.04.01)C

I’m closing out this post with a peg of Blackwood harvesting spuds in our home garden last year. Growing our own food is always the best medicine, and it means that low-income households like ours can afford organically grown food that is non-reliant upon the vulgar boudoir of the state-corporate nexus.