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Mothers and Soldiers

Mothers and Soldiers both have a day of remembrance in the national calendar, and most people think the similarities stop there. An anthropologist could write several books on the interesting cultural phenomenon that while mothers definitely face pain, and combat injury, hostility, violence, ridicule and even today, sometimes death, in pregnancy and childbirth, it simply isn’t done to talk about it, as one can for the military. A woman killed by the father of her child makes the news a couple times a month, but the pain, danger, labour and sometimes permanent injury that mothers face during pregnancy and birth is never discussed; as if the location where pain happens makes a difference!

Part of the perceived difference may be in the culture’s perception of soldiering as active, and having a baby is perceived by the culture as passive – when everything goes well. If some problem arises, everyone is quick to blame the mother – which shows a schizophrenic kind of view of pregnancy and labour!

Soldiers have a mirrored result – good outcomes result in medals and honour, and bad outcomes result in generals or politicians taking blame. Raw Tibicos suspects this is the result of confusion about gender roles in intimacy. Soldiers have historically been mostly men, and mothers are by definition, are women. Traditionally, male soldiers showed great vigour with long rod-like weapons . . . perhaps no more need be said about that side of perceived gender roles . . . on the gentler side, there is scandalous confusion over the difference between “passive”, as in “passive like an inanimate object”, and “receptive”, as in, “let me guide your energy”.

The ancient world understood this: understanding of the immense importance of receptive-guiding-energy is why Sophia (wisdom), Liberty, Truth, Fate, Justice are all female. All of these are essential for human life – all must be sought – but never conquered – just like the essential nature of receiving. Would any of us want Wisdom, Liberty, Truth, Justice, or even Fate, that was inert, lifeless; passive?

Yet, as soon as one becomes expectant, the modern world wants the mother to be like a doll, allowing medical interventions for her body and her baby, without opinions or participation in the birth process. The process of birth is a sacred dance between mother and child, giving and taking on both sides – a breath here, a position adjustment there – small, constant adjustments that make the difference between life and injury – or worse. Where in today’s culture do we give expecting mothers the Sophia needed to be the heroines of their own dangerous passage from innocence to motherhood? Those readers who have experienced labour; how many of you were empowered by those around you to be the star of your own body’s birth? How many of you were pushed into second or third place, behind the medical establishment’s interventions, opinions, and needs? Where are the medals and honours for exceptional bravery and self-sacrifice? Raw Tibicos suspects that the answers to these questions would sadden all of us who care about happiness.

Those of you who are not mothers; when have you seen a movie or other portrayal of labour where the mother is the Sophia – the guiding wisdom – of the birth? Have you even once seen the labouring mother’s needs or requests validated, honoured?

If readers have the idea that mothers should be honoured as soldiers are, that is only a part of what this is about! Let’s return to the notion of vigorous, obvious action, as contrasted with receptive, grounded, channeled agency. Today’s concept of “staying healthy”, falls into the archetype that we just rejected. On the one side, a war-like state with our bodies – jogging, starving ourselves, eating unpleasant foods, taking mountains of powdered supplements. If that fails, culture decrees an utterly passive, inert reliance on the medical world to fix us.

Shall we be the heros and heroines of our own health, in a channeled, wise, receptive way? Raw Tibicos has a collection of suggestions to live more healthy, joyful lives, with interventions that should be so soft and natural that when sought (but not conquered) these practices become invisible supports, as invisible, yet valuable as Wisdom, Liberty, Truth, and Justice. These were originally sent in the newsletter, but repetition and context doesn’t make them less valuable:

  • How about any activity that gets one’s hands in the soil? Starting about twenty years ago, scientists began finding that some of the bacteria that make our guts healthy can be replenished from soil bacteria —  as a seller of a pro-biotic beverage — Raw Tibicos probably shouldn’t have mentioned that soil bacteria are also beneficial!   Additionally, a recent study showed that the components of healthy soil help wounds clot quickly.  It is comforting to know that if one is injured, far from help, and handful of dirt might save the day and stop the bleeding.  Proof that gardens are indeed, blessed!
  • Use Nature’s original disinfectant —  Sunlight!   With so much being closed, it’s a great time to discover some off-the-beaten path walks, and less-travelled times.  Scientists are discovering more and more how linked human life is to actual sunlight.  The staff at Raw Tibicos are universal in this, we all feel that time outside is essential for health! If you do not already know what your Minimum Daily Nature Time is, this might be the chance to experiment!
  • On the topic of ourselves being linked to the natural world, it is easy to forget that we evolved without artificial light. If one has trouble sleeping, adjusting your indoor lighting to reflect the sun’s natural rhythms may be all the remedy that is needed for a good night’s sleep.  When the sun is high, turn on all the lights inside, and when the sun is down, dim inside lighting to the minimum possible, as close to the light of candles as possible.   Twenty years of experimenting with this, have shown Raw Tibicos that physical energy and “sunny good nature” are quickly affected by bright electric lights at night!   Give it a try, and see if there is any reaction in your household —  at the worst — lower electric bills!
  • On the subject of artificial light, perhaps we have all noticed that it differs from sunlight? We have all experienced red, tired eyes with blurry vision, from spending too much time looking at computer screens?  This is because our eyes are adapted to the ultimate in full-spectrum light —  the sun.  The imbalances in artificial lighting cause a wide range of human imbalances, ranging from blurry sight and splotchy skin, to documented behavioural and health problems with school children.  This is another quick and easy experiment to try:  1). try to limit regular fluorescent lighting, and if not, try to put physical distance between you and it 2). use computer glasses to balance the blue light, and 3). consider spending some time in front of some of the red/ infra-red lights that are sold, to counter-balance all the too-blue!
  • It seems as if science is daily making new discoveries about the previously-unsuspected benefits of new and old plants.  This one is good for inflammation —  that one has antioxidants — it can get overwhelming!  We often forget about the healing power of the plants that are so familiar, they get called ‘spices’, many of which were originally included for their healing powers.   Has it been a while since you tasted rosemary?  It makes a great tea!  How about some tarragon on your eggs?  Chopped basil on your salad?  Turmeric and ginger in your hot milk?  Sumac on fresh fruit?   Give your spices a daily work out and I think you will find that they will work for you —  A word about plants:  plants often carry the nickname “master chemists”, as unlike human chemists, plants have access to more chemical compounds, and can vary their growth according to need.   Science has found that plants quickly become more bitter in response to an animal or insect eating their leaves —  not only in the plant being browsed on, but also its neighbours change leaf chemistry!  This rapid adaptability of plants has led many herbalists and foodies to speculate that we can rely on our plant friends to carry some of the burden of keeping us healthy, of responding to the shifting nature of disease, by working with these master chemists.
  • On the subject of chemistry, please remember that our skin absorbs many items right through it, into the blood!  Any unhelpful substances absorbed by the skin, must be filtered through the liver and kidneys, which is fine much of the time, but perhaps a burden when one is fighting an infection.   Ayurvedic tradition asks that one only put edible items on the skin; that seems an attractive way to think of it? How often do we think of our skin as delicious?
  • It is true that not every micro-organism is beneficial to humans; being so small, often they cannot tolerate the wide range of conditions that larger beings can. For this reason, fever is one of our body’s most effective defences against infection, which is why doctors often let a fever burn itself out —  and perhaps why if we get a chill, we are more prone to getting sick.  Generating heat like that does place a strain on our bodies  —  however, we can get all the benefits and none of the downside, by having a hot bath —  or sauna for those lucky enough to have access to one — and there is the additional benefit of stress reduction!  This might be a good time to treat yourself to a daily hot bath — as a preventative measure  —  stop a just-caught virus before it gets a foothold!   If you are bored, or curious, you can always check to see the impact by taking your temperature before and after the bath  — I know one couple who did this, and the change in body temperature was surprising.

Seven tips for a healthier life; playing outside, a nice hot bath afterwards, be careful who your (skin) associates with, limit night-time bright lights, eat well cooked and nicely spiced food; have herbal tea rather than soda — all of them the kinds of things our mothers tell us to do! It also sounds like the list of things soldiers miss most – that and the healing from laughter with loved ones. Picking one at random – the sun actively shines on us – but does that make us passive? Aren’t we all – plants, humans, animals – receptive to the sunlight – channeling the gift of sunlight into work and play?

It has been said that our everyday habits become character: our character becomes our Fate! In this way, Fate becomes the best symbol of the receptiveness that is the ultimate gift for every mammal, from our mothers. Let’s hold close to our hearts the vision of mothers and babies in an intimate dance of birth; let the feminine energies of Wisdom, Liberty, Truth, Justice, channel our life-force like a baby toward health. Do we require active, warlike, interventions to mechanically stretch our children to make them grow? No! Our children receive nourishing food, healthy environments and joy in learning, and they grow without effort creating their own Fate. Can we do less?

If you like this series of articles, please do support the work by purchasing @RawTIbicos products, here: soupkefir.ca — even you don’t like this writing, please consider purchasing, anyway, as twenty-five years is a long time for testing; many of the products are extremely good! Information provided is for entertainment only, no medical or other advice is offered.

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Bitcoin and Food – So Similar?

Bitcoin and food — food and bitcoin — how would the two begin dating, let alone marry? One lives on computer servers and hard drives, and only moves to the beat of electricity; the other in the sensual world of taste, smells, colours, traditionally enjoyed without an electrical plug!

Raw Tibicos can take a break from food to learn about the world, and has been fascinated to hear bitcoin advocates speak of two concepts crucial to food: de-centralization/ personal sovereignty. As Raw Tibicos understands it, if governments fail to meet citizens’ basic needs, then at least one has bitcoin safe in an off-line wallet, in one’s own possession, with transactions processed and recorded in multiple servers around the world. The servers are chosen at random from among those who do ‘proof of work’; and the total number of bitcoins is limited by the algorithm. Let’s assume that ‘the algorithm’ does what its advocates claim for it, and caps the amount of bitcoins extant; awesome. Bitcoin is now like food; the amount of food is limited on the right hand by the biology of human digestion and corporal realities, and on the left hand, by our ability to source, process and store it.

De-centralization and personal sovereignty in the digital world are discussed everyday, over and over; so why, Raw Tibicos asks, would the convo. Not shift from bitcoin to food, reflecting the connection between the two? “Enough about the digital world, let’s discuss the same issues with food”. Astonishing isn’t the word! Most of us do not interact with bitcoin three or more times each day, and yet, with all the breakfast, lunches, dinners, and snacks eaten, while discussing bitcoin, Raw Tibicos is aware of none who have thought about food’s journey from de-centralized, marker of personal sovereignty, to – the complete opposite! Yowsers!

We don’t have to go back to the Roman Empire to find a world where the average human controlled his own food supply – but in the Romans we have a well-documented connection between food and conquest. Most of us are aware that Imperial Rome’s expansion was stopped by the Celts and the Germanic tribes — what should also be taught is that the reason Rome was stopped – with barely a weapon drawn – was that Rome was unable to control the area’s food? Rome – and all imperial-slave-based systems are based on control of food. Rome was a grain-based culture; the Germano-Celts tribes’ food was tree-based. No central granaries to control – probably not even barns to burn. What is an imperialist slaver to do? Go native?

A contemporary recorded that the Germano-Celtic diet was apples, deer and milk; and we have confirmation of this in the wealth of ancient Celtic legends that have come down to us. The tree-based pastoralists knew that cows and horses can be fed in the forest – leaves were an important source of additional food for cows and horses. To this we can add the many nutritious and delicious forest products that we know traditional temperate forest people eat: walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, acorns, mushrooms, birds, berries, ground and pig nuts, pine nuts, rabbits, burdock and even the bark and leaves of some trees. Unlike relying on a grain crop, if one food source fails, or is destroyed by the Romans, there are others. Stockholm syndrome has led many to conclude that only a small population can be kept on this kind of food supply, however, intensive historical food reading by Raw Tibicos shows this kind of thinking for what it is. Did you know that for over a century after contact, the coast of North America was so densely populated, that European trading ships could not land? Another victory for tree-based economies as difficult to conquer! (One suspects they had heard about their southern neighbour’s experience with Columbus). How many people know that during the summer fur trade, along the Michigan peninsula, each individual woman was able to provide enough food for herself, her family, and five – ten French & First Nations traders, plus enough for her family’s (non-meat) needs over the winter? No plows – and no monocultures need apply!

So why did Western Civ move from sustainable, productive, low-risk decentralized food production to one that is more work, more prone to famine, may provide less calories per acre, and best of all (sarcasm) – is easier to tax and – even better – control the population?

Cows may provide a (cow-shaped) keyhole to peek through, to begin answer that question. Cows were so central to Germano-Celt economies that they were the symbol of wealth, and the first letter of the Futark. Cows turn wasteland – useless for farming – into food. Cows can be fed in the forest as well as on grass, and give so much milk, that the cow – along with her co-conspirators sheep and goats, are probably the beginning of civilization. The dairy cow, in particular, has one additional fascinating characteristic – she gives immunity from small pox to dairy maids.

Imagine that we are living in a time not so long ago, where most people were involved with their food production, small pox is rampant; except among dairy maids. An alien observing this, from his UFO, might think, “Of course, mankind will share the labour and the benefits of milking the cows, so that everyone has a day off, and also the benefits of disease control. Plus, it solidifies decentralized and personal control over an important food source, as these are important values to these people.” HEAD FAKE! Rather, all the leading thinkers said, “Let’s have a centralized authority cut open the skin of healthy people and rub pus from a sick person in! Then we can make all the dairy farms centralized and pay the milk maids less!” Our fictional UFO observer would have given up on humanity immediately, for all time!

After knowing this slice of history, who would not shed a tear for the future of bitcoin? The values of decentralization and personal control can mean less than nothing compared to the march of profits. Perhaps more information will make this weakness more striking?

When small pox inoculations were introduced, there was tremendous push-back from the population. The inoculations had to be imposed by a central authority; usually the local landowner. The inoculations initially seemed beneficial; but this was a mirage, due to the way that diseases wax and wane naturally. By the time that years of data were available, including the deaths of many whom had been inoculated, it was clear that this method did not give the immunization that milking cows gave.

Personally speaking, (unlike most people living today), Raw Tibicos has spent some months hand-milking two cows, and found it to be rather nice. The cows are warm and soft, the calf is adorable, and the barn is a nice peaceful refuge. It is hard to hypothesize that a hatred of cows was the reason that funding went to further research of inserting pus into bodies, rather than researching human-animal symbiotic relationships.

As decisions about which research priorities got funding were made, other forces grabbed a decisive lead against decentralized, personal control over food. “Enclosing the commons” had begun, arguably as early as William the Conquerer, who set aside common land forest for his personal hunting preserve, but the practice of local large landowners appropriating land previously held as commons was a keynote of the Enlightenment. Developing world markets opened up the possibility of using the land to sell for those same world markets, putting in view the tantalizing prospect of heretofore unattainable wealth – for the few. All that was needed was a stomach strong enough to dispossess local families of land traditionally held in common; land used to graze family cows, hunt a few rabbits, or harvest wild foods and wood for fuel. Much ink was spilled justifying this; the end result was that people who preferred to control and manage their own food, were forced into the cities, to provide labour for the factories processing the wool grown on their own former commons. As an added insult, access to food was much more centralized, and depended on acceding to the demands of the factory owner. No longer could a family be fed by the simple act of one’s own labour!

Unsurprisingly, many objected to this arrangement. They were suppressed by the military, or deported, and even the name of their movement, Luddites, has come to mean stupid people objecting to wonderful progress. Lesson learned; the trouble-makers in their new continent, traumatized, ceased to advocate for food sovereignty, and those left knew the consequences of disagreement. Therefore food has come to be the poster child for centralization out of individual’s control.
Food became the pathbreaker for a new model of economy, one that included cycles dominated by man rather than nature. We are subject to an endless cycle of “wonderful new discoveries” which we must all buy, which are in due course of time, very predictably revealed to be actually harmful. Anyone with a memory long enough to point out the many previous cycles, and recommend caution in the most recent, is called “unscientific”, “a conspiracy theorist”, a “Luddite”, or maybe a climate denier or racist – the insults cycle along with the marketing – that is probably the point of it all, to keep us “disrupted”? Who among us cannot point to an industry or two, or three, that follow this disruptive cycle of higher and higher profits, and lower and lower quality of goods? Raw Tibicos is in favour of profits, what (apparently) sets us apart is the idea that profits can also partner with happiness! As a note, Soup&Kefir @RawTibicos sources from many suppliers, including small, independent sources, and our products are reputed to increase happiness. Please click here for the happy review: https://www.soupkefir.ca/reviews

During the era of smallpox inoculations and enclosure of the commons, legend has it, that as he left the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked what form of government had been decided. “Democracy, if you can keep it,” is the legendary reply.

Franklin would have known that what had been decided was a Republic, not a democracy – the difference being that in a democracy citizens vote themselves for laws and budgets, whereas in a Republic, citizens delegate law and budget duties to others. Bitcoin, of course, began with much wider distribution of mining, (as compared to users of bitcoins); but as the market has grown, bitcoin has become more like a republic, in that many of the essential functions have become professionalized and have a fairly high barrier to entry for the average bitcoin “citizen”. First World food, however, is even further along the centralization slide – almost everything the average food citizen puts in his mouth came from one of a small handful of companies. This includes restaurants, almost all of which source from one of the only two or three giant distributors.

Raw Tibicos would like to see bitcoin survive as a “republic”, and not slide into dictatorship, but one hopes that the real utility of this analogy is to provoke a little thought about the tremendous power concentrated in a few hands, which is the industrial food system. It has been almost exactly a thousand years since William the Conquerer caused mass starvation by kicking people out of the thousands of acres of their traditional land. The centuries since have seen billions displaced off of their traditional land, and their direct control over their own food. Can we stop this, or is it too late? Future blogs will discuss Soup&Kefir @RawTibicos’ efforts to decentralize and democratize food, and the barriers we see: please stay tuned, and if possible throw a few dollars every week toward us by donating here, or other providers who are working on food democracy, if only to prove that decentralized food does have a future!

Support decentralized food by purchasing at Soup&Kefir @RawTibicos, or donating below! http://soupkefir.com. Information provided is for entertainment only, no medical or other professional advice is offered.

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Help! The Dog Ate My Dinner!

WAR – isn’t our culture comfortable with war? War on Drugs, War on Cancer, War on Poverty, War on Terrorism, War on Viruses – If this blog were titled War on Bad Food, it would click into today’s gestalt without a seam. Only one problem – experts, observers and victims – all – have seen no decline in the objects of War. Shouldn’t drugs, cancer, poverty, terrorism and viruses know that civilized people have ganged up on them and all their works, and slink away, out of sight and away from harm?

Drugs, cancer, poverty, terrorism and viruses – it’s a motley crew – one collection of chemicals, one metabolic disfunction, two unwanted results of modern economies, and one by-product of life – and the techniques of war have failed on all of them. It reminds Raw Tibicos of a dog we once had, a large Bernese Mountain Dog with a dominant personality. A dominant personality – in a dog – or a drug, or a disease, or a social problem – means that the dog enjoys challenging your status quo more than he enjoys praise or being a good team member. The maxim, “Any attention is good attention,” was written by a dominant dog. . . and perhaps perfected by The War on X, where bad news brings in more funding?

People think of peace as the opposite of war – but it is a lot more than that – peace is actually an active verb. Just as war requires both material and a certain way of thinking, so peace has its own infrastructure and peculiar ways of thinking. If war is two stags locking horns and wrestling for victory, then peace is each stag with his own grazing area and family to raise. It can be difficult to understand ourselves by simply gazing into the mirror; what is hard to see in ourselves can be easy to understand when watching other beings do the same thing. Let’s continue by looking at the household dog; the dominant Berner, mentioned earlier.

Picture yourself, hungry, sitting down to a fabulous meal – featuring @RawTibicos veggie mixes and water kefir, available here: soupkefir.ca – and a 120 pound dog, clad in the Berner dinner jacket of black back fur and white fur necktie, sits down next to you and calmly begins chewing on the table! Just in case you haven’t noticed, he leaves his jaws locked on the table, swivels his eyes toward yours, full eye contact, and gives the table a challenging bite. Dinner is perfectly cooked, the absolute right temperature for eating, smells are steaming up from the plate, the water kefir glass is frosted, and your loved dog is commanding your mad attention, because he thinks that your hunger is stronger than your desire for a well-behaved dog. Your Berner has nothing of importance to lose, but if you dash after him, then your dinner might get lost to the Golden Retriever on the other side, slyly pretending to be asleep! Isn’t this exactly what the War on Drugs, Cancer, et al, feels like?

This is a blog about bringing spirituality back to food, and so of course, the answer lies in the perfection of the human spirit. It is true that sometimes spirituality is spoken of as war. Wars are famously bad for the pleasures of the table – so we will use the metaphor of a ladder – which leads much better food.

At the bottom of the ladder is our old rival War – choosing teams, finding weapons, trash talk, it’s all about “I need”, and “You must”. We are good, they are bad – we don’t need to say much here, as our culture is stuck on this rung. Here is the hero who smacks the bad Berner, the dog with the dominant character, who already has his teeth out for the table. Things escalate from there, to the delight of the golden retriever.

Next on the ladder – spoiler alert, this ladder only has three rungs – is neutrality. Neutrality hangs on the rung of freely-entered into contracts, trade, negotiation. I’ll trade what you want, to get from you, what I want. On this level we have the saint who comes prepared with dog biscuits. One for the Golden, for being good, and one for the Berner who has now moved his mouth from chewing wood to drool on the biscuit in your hand. The saint hands Dominant Dog his biscuit; trade made, dinner gets eaten hot – at least until the Berner wants another biscuit. Everyone feels good at this level – the dogs got biscuits, dinner got eaten hot, the saint feels smug, and so does the Berner. Sound familiar? Badness had its reward – neutrality was maintained – good had something on account, too. There is a better option, but there is also a worse one – things could descend to war later in the year.

We at Raw Tibicos prefer the view from the peak, so let’s keep climbing. On the top rung, love reigns alone. Not “peace and love”, which brings up visions of irresponsibility, youth, trampled lawns, loud music, and indifferent meals. This is a love based on experience, and strength – the kind of love that good neighbours have. This is the love that can give for no reason, for no expectation, simply because love has enough to share. This is the love that leads us to have dogs in the first place, and belongs to the world of extra zucchini, checking when the house next door is empty, watching out for your friends when they have drunk too much, helping someone else to a benefit that you won’t share. On this level, our neighbour-character deescalates by looking eyeball to eyeball back at the Berner, taking a huge bite of the steaming succulent dinner, conveying to the dog by energy, attention and pleasure, the knowledge that the food on the plate is much better than the dry wood of the table.

There are dogs who would react to changing the focus, by biting more than the table. A relationship of love had already been built between this dog and the owner, and so the Berner, unable to have attention on command, with no answer to his challenge, released the table and lay under it.

Some people yearn to climb the ladder themselves, and others fight to bring everyone to their level. It can be so hard to climb the ladder – that many of us who have climbed, don’t want to step back down – I mean, those of us who have educated our palates to proper food are reluctant to step back to junk. However, is that a reason to circle the wagons, and refuse to share what we know about healthy, clean, delicious and nutritious food? Some people prefer stale chips and cheap beer, and we cannot pull them to where they do not want to go! Having dinner with this group means accepting stale chips and cheap beer, maybe without complaint. Others are looking up the ladder, hoping for help climbing to a better spiritual relationship with food.

Wisdom lies in knowing that the ladder exists, descending if needed, climbing back when done, and enjoying the view from the top. This is real food spirituality! How simple, to grow a better world, through love and sharing the gifts of our souls, redirecting attention from what is lacking, to the extra in our gardens! Why should those who love war, be able to keep down those of us who prefer to climb, for ever?

In this blog, some of those looking to climb are not even people – how does the story of the dogs’ dinner end? Yes – to answer the question – after releasing the table when redirected, being a good dog throughout the rest of the meal, both the Berner and the Golden got table scraps. Much better than dry wood! As one memorable vet said, many years ago, “Dogs are not like us – they need vegetables, whole grains, and healthy proteins.” ?? This vet was advocating commercial kibble – perhaps not knowing better food exists?

We began this discussion with the thought of love, rather than war, and before closing it, Raw Tibicos feels that one more animal metaphor might be appropriate. Love is more complicated than war. War is harm, and that can take many forms – monosodium glutamate, corn syrup, antibiotics left in the meat, trans-fats, glyphosate residue, dyes that cause anxiety, etc – war involves impediments. War only exists on the bottom of the ladder. Love, however, has levels. Love at the bottom of the ladder is the love of the wolf for the sheep, the love of the master for his slave, the love of convenient junk food. This is a selfish love; and being human, we have probably all experienced this. Raw Tibicos has experienced selfish love!

At the top is the kind of love a mother gives her child, the love that says, “how may I help?” without judgment, or the love a chef gives a meal, food which will be eaten and forgotten, but in which the love becomes part of not only the experience, but also the nutrition. With food, we can test the love! Cook two meals, exactly the same – one cooked by an unhappy, resentful chef, and the other – the same in material terms – cooked by a happy, love-filled chef. When Raw Tibicos tried this experiment, there were actual, measurable differences in the experience and results of the meal. Sounds crazy? Test it for yourself, and see if you look at food – or war – or even dogs – in the same way?

Information provided is for entertainment only, no medical or other advice is offered here.

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Life, Men & Microbes

There is elite corporate history; and then there is history for the rest of us. . . The first can be known for how it flatters and degrades us at the same time; the second for how it connects with us on a daily level and makes our understanding richer.

In elite corporate history, Great Men use Powerful Forces to attain Great Results. These histories began with the bards hired at courts to memorialize the conquests of kings; one can easily see how the format of Great Men/ Great Results would result in a bigger payment from the king to the bard!

During the Industrial Revolution the person paying for the genre changed from kings to corporate owners; until our time when the people paying are the shareholders. One of Raw Tibicos’ first jobs was as a very junior equity analyst; which means that it was actually Raw Tibicos who had to open endless annual reports, all with the same photo of a CEO taken from somewhere at the man’s knee, giving the perspective of the company being lead by a literal Great Man. This was in the early 90’s, when people still felt that raiding pension funds, loading companies with debt, cutting benefits and eradicating investment in the future required an excuse!

The good thing about the Great Man version of history, (from the perspective of the man taking the money out of the company), is that in order to question the Great Man’s actions, one must question the very format in which the story is told . . .

Let’s do this, shall we? Let’s explore the alternative to the Great Man! Most histories, attempting this, begin slightly lower with everyday people’s lives. For a really different history, let’s go way, way, wa-a-y down the social scale, to depths often uncharted. As Soup&Kefir @RawTibicos was founded on the magic of microbes, let’s begin our history on a very, very small scale.

A teaspoon of soil has more microbes than there are people alive. Microbes vastly outweigh the total weight of humanity. Microbes are Elder Brother to mankind, and will probably be Surviving Sister. Healthy microbiomes in the soil process nutrients, act as information sources, and share goods with the plants we depend on. “As above, so below”, in our intestinal tracts, we all process personal “soil” with the help of our own microbiome. A healthy human biome processes nutrients, acts as information sources, and shares goods (sound familiar?) with its host? client? you. By contrast, an unhealthy biome does none of these things, allows cracks in the intestinal lining, and as an added insult, may actually manufacture toxins as byproducts of itself. To complete this circle – the plants we ingest become soil in the intestine, and historically, returned to the maternal soil source, to nourish new plants.

The capacity of the Earth, to grow, nurture and care for humanity – as well as all the other life – depends on the quality – not of Great Men and their Powerful Forces – but on the health of the microbiome. Destruction of the microbiome has resulted in a measurable, documented decline in the nutrient value of the fruits, vegetables and grains that mankind relies on – one the past hundred years. How much is this decline? If asked to guess, would you guess 20%? 50%? You would be wrong – the decline has been more than 90% – in many cases, over 95% of the minerals and nutrients in our food has disappeared!

Let’s go further. Most histories describe the rise and fall of nations and empires as having been the result of Great Men. The truth is – men might be doing great things – however their actions have zero predictive value! What does have predictive value? Soil. Oh, and one other thing – soil. Nations with strong, fertile microbe-strong topsoil thrive. Once that is gone – the nation falls. The secret of some cultures’ ability to survive thousands of years? You guessed it – it isn’t subtle planning, big weapons, or virtuous thought – it all depends on soil. Do you disbelieve me? I invite you to prove Raw Tibicos wrong!

We aren’t done yet – we can go further and deeper!

Healthy topsoil with a healthy biome => leads to nutrient-packed foods => leads to healthy, strong nations and cultures; each individual filled with his or her own personal strong soil filled with healthy biome.

Instead, we have the “green revolution”, where artificial nitrogen fertilizers have led to huge plant growth – but the plants lack nutrients and structure, and so are prey to disease and predation by micro-insects – and therefore require larger doses of poisonous insecticides. Is there a parallel? There is! Humanity, fed on food created by nitrogen fertilizers has exploded in number, but we are weak, nutrient depleted, depressed, and increasingly, require large doses of toxic chemicals and interventions. Hmmmm?

Comparing human growth to the growth of our food is an ancient idea – older than thinking about causes of population growth – which goes back only a few centuries, as far as we know. Readers are doubtless familiar with the work of Thomas Malthus, whose famous prediction was that given adequate food, populations increase exponentially, tragically outstripping the supply of food, which only can increase linearly. Malthus has fallen in and out of popularity in the two centuries since he wrote; the conclusion most supported by long-term evidence seems to be that occasionally, in the short-term, Malthus can be correct. Malthus, is of course, in the Great Man tradition. Modern thinking is now centred on more everyday decisions: each set of parents plans to have one or two children survive them. With high infant mortality, mothers have more children; when infants have a high likelihood of surviving, births decrease. Most of the population increase has occurred around the world in the generation where infant mortality dropped, but expectations of mortality had not yet caught up with the new reality.

Infant mortality would seem to contradict the idea that soil health is important – as nitrogen fertilizers and the attendant pesticides, herbicides have wreaked havoc on soil microbiomes – infant mortality has gone down. Let’s get deeper on this subject:

Any parent can confirm – feeding infants is hard! Breast feeding, which is so natural and evolved, is far more difficult than one can guess. Breast feeding an infant not only provides the best nutrition, but the action helps an infant’s palate and jaw grow to the correct shape. As with anything of great value, there is a learning curve – infants must learn to latch on correctly, and the sucking takes effort – necessary effort, as it is the action of muscles that pulls the palate and jaw into shape. Dehydrated, malnourished or drunk babies will have difficulties. Further, mothers must have enough nutrition to make milk, enough time to suckle their babies, enough peace to allow the milk to come, and enough maturity to bring this all together. None of these many factors can be taken for granted!

These difficulties caused the rise of the profession of wet nurse. A wet nurse is a professional baby feeder, a woman who had demonstrated the ability to bring infants through the crucial first two years. We do know that wet nurses were common in the Enlightenment, in Europe – concurrent with, or more likely – the cause of the population boom at that time. During the Enlightenment, wet nurses came from a family located near by, a family usually known for generations to her employers. Historically, Jane Austin and her siblings were sent out to a local women for nursing; the Austin family was known for having a high survival rate for its children. Compensation in the form of household help; food, probably clothing and other tangible help was given, as well as probably a wage.

This system broke down during the Industrial Revolution, and here is where we return to our theme of the microbiome. Alcohol has seven calories per gram – higher than sugar, at 4 calories per gram – or whole wheat flour at 3 calories per gram. Sugar was expensive, and flour gets insect infestations, plus needs labour to make it edible. For these reasons, for the hungry many, especially in cities, easy-stored and relatively cheap to buy alcohol became a food staple – not only for adults, but also for cows, and for babies. Cows can be kept alive (but not healthy) on the spent grains left over from distilleries – and babies can be fed, and kept quiet and docile (but not healthy) – on a diet of rags soaked in alcohol. For a world focused on efficiency, and not at all concerned about healthy microbiomes, this seemed like a good solution. Populations, fuelled by alcohol, continued to rise. In fact, one could call this the first wave of the “green revolution”, tied to the bodies of people, rather than plants.

Unsurprisingly, mothers objected to wet nurses who substituted alcohol for breast milk, and were unimpressed by the results of nursing provided by women fed on a diet of alcohol. Equally, the milk provided by sick, but alive cows, fed on the spent distillery grains, killed many infants. Must one mention that alcohol, as a disinfectant, and lacking fibre, is murder on the intestinal biome?

Wealthy families set up their own dairy herds in the country, and paid railroads to bring them fresh country milk, grown on the still healthy soil in the country. Middle class and poor families advocated for governmental succour – governments turned to corporations – and corporations responded with products – nitrogen fertilizers, baby formula, pesticides and herbicides, and the sterilization necessary to produce food in one place and time, while consuming it in a totally different place and time. The history of this time is also the history of Great Men, using Powerful Forces to attain Great Results. What is forgotten during the subsequent explosion of corporate profits, is the vitality in the soil, in the food, in the people and in the planet itself.

People are not used to thinking of themselves as creators of soil, or of alcohol as being parallel to nitrogen fertilizers, or to thinking about our food in context of the health of the soil, the cow, the wet nurse, or even the agricultural labourer. Could we be asking the wrong questions? Neo-Malthisians talk about the carrying capacity of the earth. Parents who have healthy children and an expectation of seeing them survive, have less children. People, plants and animals with healthy, nutrient-rich food consume less calories, and are sickly less often than when given nutrient-poor food. If it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a Great Man to enter the kingdom of God – would our lives, and the lives of those we care for – be easier if we gave the microbiome – (which, although greater in size than mankind – can certainly fit through the eye of a needle) – shall we give the microbiome for soil, cows, infants and adults what it needs to be healthy, happy and productive?

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