Paul and Jocelyn start out by talking about the documentary “Food Matters” Jocelyn fell asleep while watching it, Paul says “I watched the whole thing!” But first, they plan to also talk about water conservation. Also, Paul is setting up an email thing-a-ma-jigger and you should sign up (Ed: the dailyish email list, highly recommended). He got the idea from Jack Spirko, of “The Survival Podcast,” and since Jack is sort of the reason Paul started doing podcasts, it must be a good idea.
So, Food Matters. Yes, it does. Overall, Paul thought the movie was. . . . O.K. He wasn’t wowed, but it’s worth watching. Jocelyn liked how it pointed out how doctors don’t get taught about food, they get taught to diagnose things and prescribe medicine
. (Ed: this is true. Most medical schools don’t even have a required course in nutrition.) Paul thought it echoed a lot of the things in Michael Pollan’s work. He was a little concerned that not everybody was rock solid in their statements, it didn’t seem like things were researched/verified thoroughly enough. He wanted people’s statements to be fully qualified. It seemed to be more on the level of one of his thrown together videos, not a full-blown movie.
However, he thinks that people with cancer need to see this video and he liked it when the guy said that American medicine is top notch at patching you up after, say, a car accident, but it’s really lame at managing a bunch of diseases. Jocelyn noted that they didn’t have anybody in the movie that she’d heard of (like Andrew Weil or Michael Pollan).
On the topic of raw food, a person in the movie claimed that you must eat over 50% of your diet raw, or else your body will attack the food as foreign. This seems unlikely. They describe a couple in the movie who went all raw and loved the way it affected them health wise. However they noted that socially, it can be difficult because your friends want to share a meal with you. When they ate cooked food, the next day they were just wiped out, for a day or more. They felt like they were almost super human when on a fully raw diet, with better thought processes, more energy, etc. However, it was a whole lot of work to prepare the food and they gave it up after a couple of years.
Jocelyn mentions a guy in the movie that says that most food in the grocery store comes from 1500 miles away, and is a week old. Paul needs to point out that a lot of food that comes from far away actually uses less fossil fuel per pound of food, because boats are pretty efficient, and semi trucks are also pretty efficient and often carry full loads “both ways.” On the other hand, food brought to a farmer’s market often uses much more fuel per pound of food, because it was brought in by the farmer’s pickup truck, or cargo truck. He still thinks you should buy local, but not for the carbon footprint. Local is better for you.
Paul liked the older lady who was obviously really healthy from eating well, but took issue with the simplistic way she criticized farmers, saying they only cared about N-P-K (and calling them “minerals”). He also liked the story of the depressed woman who got better with high dose niacin, but hated that apparently after her doctor expressed concern about high dose vitamins, she stopped taking it “and crawled back into her corner.”
Paul is involved with a group in Missoula that want to build highly sustainable houses, like, that manage their own sewage and collect their own water. A city official expressed concerns about composting toilets. Paul was asked to comment on composting toilets. He replied that although it’s possible that a composting toilet could have “stink, and flies” it is also possible for a well planned composting toilet that does not stink and doesn’t attract flies. Paul ended up being quoted in the Missoula newspaper.
Paul explains in disgusting detail about how if you can smell poop, that means there are tiny molecules of the poop actually inside your nose. Yuck! OK, if you have a composting toilet with a teeny tiny fan, you can make it so air is constantly moving out of the pooper and out of the house. No smell.
Paul feels it is possible to make an outhouse, a dry outhouse, that is far cleaner than a usual septic system. If you keep the urine out of the poop container, the smell is much less. If you collect the stool in a barrel and let it sit for a year, it will no longer have odor and will not have pathogens still there. You could feed the compost to a cottonwood tree, after a year. Septic systems can actually foul groundwater and can require a lot of management. If you are using antibacterial soap, you are killing the good bacteria in your septic system. Too much (clean) water is bad for your septic system.
Collecting rainwater is good, but you do need to plan on how to deal with pathogens in that collect in that water. If you are going to collect water off your roof and you plan on drinking that water, well, that’s going to take some work. Toby Hemenway recommends a baked enamel roof. This ranges into a discussion of water supplies in general, for Missoula, for Seattle. . .
Paul is not a fan of composting municipal sewage sludge;municipal sewage sludge, at least not for edible gardens, because there could be medicine residues in there, along with other nasties.
Paul likes when the Humanure book calls out the practice of calling human stool “waste,” because it really is a powerful fertilizer, but he doesn’t like the idea that people are too poopaphobic these days. Paul thinks poopaphobia is a useful thing, keeps us safe from some problems. However, pee is sterile, and it’s good stuff. Paul likes Art Ludwig’s work on greywater and water storage.
Pauls presents the idea that it’s better for a dude to pee in the sink, because there is less splashing, and you use much less water to wash it down. (Jocelyn brings up peeing in the shower, which has much less “ick” factor.) He would like for peeing outdoors; to be seen as reasonable. Jocelyn points out that although it is sterile, it is rich in nutrients and can be smelly if there’s not a lot of carbon rich material to soak it up. There’s some interesting talk about women peeing outside at permies.com.
Paul would like to explore using urine, poured onto wood chips, to produce heat and methane for use in the winter. Urine is loved by grass, can be great for your garden.
Paul ponders the use of composting toilets and acknowledges that some people will never be able to put together a useful, safe system. Hmmm, maybe there should be a test you have to pass before you can build a composting toilet, to show that you know what’s up and will build a safe system. You have to pass a test to drive a car, right?
Credit: Julia Winter
You can discuss this podcast on this thread at Permies.
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