Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Coping: Climate Anxiety, Preparing: Dehydrating Food

How to cope with climate despair. UK psychotherapist & co-founder of Carbon Conversations, Rosemary Randall. Then a practical alternative to industrial food: learn to dehydrate in season with traditional cooking expert Wardeh Harmon. Radio Ecoshock 130417 1 hour.

Listen to/download this Radio Ecoshock show in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)

Listen to/download my interview with Wardeh Harmon on food dehydration (23 min) in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Listen to/download the Rosemary Randall interview on coping with climate change (29 min)


Our music this week is another tune from the Australian band Formidable Vegetable Sound System. From the album "Permaculture: A Rhymer's Manual" this is "Limits".



What if you woke up one morning and realized humans really have changed the world's climate? We show no signs of stopping this unfolding catastrophe. Maybe you already see it, and cannot bear knowing.

We need help. And a pioneering psychotherapist from Britain says we can help each other. Starting in 2005, Rosemary Randall was was part of a team founding a movement called "Carbon Conversations".

We have a conversation with her now on Radio Ecoshock. You can find "Ro" Randall's blog here.

The Carbon Conversations organization has become widespread. It links up people who want to talk about climate change, and puts them into six meet-ups which use the ideas from psychotherapy to talk through their fears and emotions. But it doesn't stop there. Each person develops their own plan to reduce their carbon emissions. It's a movement that needs to happen big-time in North America, and all over the world.

Rosemary Randall tells us about her pivotal paper "Loss and climate change: the cost of parallel narratives" found here.

The "parallel narratives" is best explained by Rosemary in our interview, but in a nutshell: media and scientists paint an awful picture of what will happen in the future due to climate change; meanwhile we try to live "normal" lives, ignoring the fact that climate change is not a future event, but is already happening now. This disconnection between our every day lives and the awful future actually reduces our motivation to make the large changes necessary (or at least fits in with our comfortable carbon lives?).

So when we focus on the Arctic melting by 2020, or the end of coral by 2050, that may also be a form of denial that cripples real action. Climate damage is happening right now!

Please listen to the interview to get a better explanation from Rosemary. It's important stuff and all too true.

I can't tell you how many times friends and listeners have fallen back on the model of coping with the ultimate loss of death, developed by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. Does that work well for the end of a loved and stable climate? Randall says "no". the Kubler-Ross formula was developed for people who were dying. We need a way to handle the burden of knowing, while we keep on living. So Randall finds more help from a formula developed by William Worden, among others.

J. William Worden wrote the book "Grief Counselling and Grief Therapy" where he outlined "the four tasks of mourning".

Randall has adapted them for dealing with climate change, where we mourn disappearing species, changed places, lost stability of weather, sea level, and so on.

I'd like to pass on two things from that paper. First, we have this helpful table of four steps, each of which can go positive or negative, depending on our choices.

Table 1. The tasks of grief. Adapted from Worden (1983)

1. The task : Accepting the reality of the loss, first intellectually and then emotionally.

Possible negative responses

Denial of the:

- facts of the loss;

- meaning of the loss;

- irreversibility of the loss.

2 The task: Working through the painful emotions of grief (despair, fear, guilt, anger, shame, sadness, yearning, disorganisation).

Possible negative responses

Shutting off all emotion, idealising what is lost, bargaining, numbing the pain through alcohol, drugs or manic activity.

3 The task: Adjusting to the new environment/acquiring new skills /developing a new sense of self.

Possible negative responses

Not adapting, becoming helpless, bitter, angry, depressed, withdrawing.

4 The task: Reinvesting emotional energy.

Possible negative responses

Refusing to love, turning away from life.


Then here is an example from the conclusion of that paper "Loss and climate change." Randall writes:

"My second example is from a public art project. The educational charity Memo is building a memorial on the Dorset coast, made from local Portland stone, to commemorate plants and animals known to have gone extinct in modern times. They describe it on their website:

'The memorial will be a stone monument bearing the images of all the species of plants and animals known to have gone extinct in modern times. It will incorporate a bell to be tolled for all extinct species, including the great many ‘unknown’ species which it is believed perish each year unseen by scientists. The bell will be tolled on the International Day of Biodiversity on 22nd May each year.'"

This memorial to the species project has not yet gone ahead, due to lack of funding. Find out more here, with glorious pictures.

The Independent newspaper in the UK published this powerful article about the Memo project (June 17, 2012)

In the end, Rosemary helps us to understand we are not alone in our anxiety about major changes to the climate, and thus the economy, food system, and the species we love. She offers a method and tips for coping with knowing how serious our situation is. This is already one of my favorite interviews of the year.


It's shocking so many city folk say they are not interested in cooking or preserving food. Don't they eat? Don't they read the headlines about toxic factory agriculture and fast-food restaurants? The awful wave of food-related diseases like diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, obesity, and colon cancer are the result.

Plus, we can save a lot of money, and tons of greenhouse gas emissions, when we grab food cheap when it's fresh, putting it away for times to come.

One of the easiest and best ways to store food is dehydrating. Humans have been doing it for thousands of years. You can too.

Our guest Wardee Harmon lives in rural Oregon. She serves up a wide variety of cooking and preserving courses online from the mysteriously named Gnowfglins.com. We're going to get some good tips from Wardee about drying food.

I can think of so many reasons to have good dried foods around. Someone may get sick, and need fast ready foods. We hope there won't be a big emergency like a power-outage from storms, but that is happening more these days. There really are too many advantages to list them all.

The importance of choosing organic whole foods is obvious. But the "grown locally in season" is so important too. A population who depends on fruit flown in from South America or New Zealand is in for some rude surprises, don't you think?


I asked Wardee about the online traditional cooking courses she offers at traditionalcookingschool.com. That's the same as Gnowfglins.com site, but much easier to remember.

In Wardee's courses, you watch online videos, but also end up with print-it-yourself binders and logs. Knowing how fallible my own memory can be, especially after a year has gone by, keeping track really does seem important.

By the way, GNOWFGLINS stands for "God's natural, organic, whole foods, grown locally, in season".

Wardee let me try out her Gnowfglins course on dehydration, which is still in development. There are about 7 classes so far. Each one has at least one video, showing us how to do things (very helpful). That is accompanied by written documentation and worksheets which we can download and print, to create our own course binders. Other courses also have some audio as well.

Basically, you buy a monthly or annual membership to the Gnowfglins site, which lets you take all the courses plus get help from others in the members-only forums. There was some really good advice in those forums. Most of the participants are women.

I'm hoping more men will get involved in cooking and preserving food. The health statistics clearly show on average mens' diet leads to more health complications later in life, - and we die younger. Can we get more men back into the food dialog, and into the kitchen? If you want to be self-sufficient, it doesn't get any better than being able to prepare, cook, and store your own food.


I want to thank my own source for this interview. I first heard Wardee Harmon on the "Get Real Get Prepared" radio show with Vikilynn Haycraft from realfoodliving.com. That was a great show Vikilynn. Listen to/download Vikilynn and Wardee Harmon talking dehydration here (Saturday March 13, 2013). The show description is here.

Wardee has own show on the Preparedness Broadcasting Network.

Here is an episode of "Know Your Food with Wardee" from April 12th, 2013. It features her meet-up with Gnowfglins folk in Arizona.

There is a prepper network in Canada too. It has handy how-to sensible advice, just as you would expect from Canadians.

The American version seems more prone to God, Guns, and a hidden food supply.


Since we talk about the best food dehydrators in our Radio Ecoshock interview, I'm tossing in this You tube video of a comparison of food dehydrators from recent Radio Ecoshock guest John Kohler. Check that out before you get started.

Watch this You tube comparison of Excalibur and Sedona food dehydrators by John Kohler.

Many people start with the far cheaper plastic round dehydrators from places like Walmart. These do work, and may be a good place to try things out - BUT food tends to drip downward into the heater and fan (which you have to clean up), and they can't dry much at a time. Once you get hooked on food dehydration, you'll want a better machine. Many people say The Exalibur 3900 is the best. It's been around for over ten years, with good reviews. I've concluded city folk starting out should go with counter-top electric dehydrators, unless you are going to get bushels of fruit or veggies at a time. Many of us don't have room for an extra out-building to dry. But a solar food drier should be our ultimate goal if we have the right climate for it. It's natural and adds no greenhouse gases.

The food dehydrating and canning season starts right now. The aparagus and rhubarb are starting to come into the markets at seasonal low prices. In my area, rhubarb costs less than $2.50 cents a pound in the spring, compared to over $5 a pound in late fall and winter. It's a half price sale for anyone ready to preserve natural foods at their best.


The new edition from Sally Fallon and Mary Enig is: "Nourishing Traditions" Revised Second Edition, October 2000.

Here is Part 1 or three from a DVD Video with Sally Fallon on You tube. She is a powerful speaker.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is very critical of the Fallon/Price diet recommendations for meat and fats, especially the Price Foundation suggestion that high cholesterol is good for us.

Here is a big long video (2 hours) of Sally Fallon on "The Oiling of America" re cholesterol and cholesterol lowering drugs.

For a shorter meal, try Sally Fallon on breakfast cereal (extreme cruelty to our grains andthe effects of eating extruded grains) 6 minutes


I asked Wardee Harmon what she meant by "Traditional Cooking". There is more to it. Wardee credits Sally Fallon, co-author of the influential 1989 book "Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats".

Sally and co-author Mary G. Enig co-founded the Weston A. Price Foundation.

According to Wikipedia, Weston Price was, "a dentist from Cleveland, Ohio, whose 1939 book, 'Nutritional and Physical Degeneration', describes the fieldwork he did in the 1920s and 1930s among various world cultures, with the original goal of recording and studying the dental health and development of pre-industrial populations including tribal Africans and Pacific islanders, Inuit, North and South American natives, and Australian aborigines."

You can watch a You tube video of Sally Fallon explaining how Weston Price judged a person's general health by the condition of their teeth. He visited various pre-industrial people and concluded their diets were the main reason their teeth were generally better formed, with fewer cavities than people living in Western economies.

The science behind the writing comes from the other major player in the Weston A Price Foundation, nutritionist Mary G. Enig. She's the real deal, with a PHD in Nutritional Sciences, experience in research labs, and published scientific papers.

However Enig's theory of the benefits of fatty foods, including butter and coconut oil, and her contrarian views that cholesterol does not lead to heart disease, has earned her criticism from other scientists.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is very critical of the Fallon/Price diet recommendations for meat and fats, especially the Price Foundation suggestion that high cholesterol is good for us.


Fallon and Enig also take up Weston Price's promotion of fermented foods used by many ancient cultures, as an aid to full digestion of both plant and animal products. You may think of sauerkraut, but there is a whole universe of fermented foods out there. Our guest Wardee Harmon has a new book out on it "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fermenting Foods". I know little about this, and Wardee has promised to send me a copy. I'll let you know if I try out some of her recipes.


Sally Fallon has a devastating critique of soy products, especially soy milk. The Weston A. Price Foundation lobbies against the use of soy formula for infants. My opinion is: she is correct in this.

Both Fallon and Enig are major forces behind the push to legalize raw milk. They claim pasteurization kills off beneficial nutrients and reduces our immunity. Personally, I just don't know enough to judge those claims. It's my opinion, and nothing more than an opinion, that most mammals stop drinking milk as they mature, and probably we should too. Wardee says the Bible talks about milk drinking, which is an authority for her, and certainly proof that humans have been drinking milk for thousands of years.

From an environmental standpoint, the whole industrial milk system is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and should be avoided on a mass scale, except for those few people who have pasture land to manage their own cows or goats organically and properly. As we know from Allan Savory, whose work was just featured on Real Time with Bill Maher, proper management of cattle or sheep is one of the few proven tools to take carbon out of the atmosphere, and return it to the soil.

Industrial milk animals are also abused in many ways, and injected with chemicals and antibiotics. I use very few milk-like products, and pour almond milk on my cereal. I don't trust big agribiz meat either, and don't eat it.

Now you have a general idea of what Wardee Harmon means by "Traditional Cooking". Do I endorse all her views? No. Can I learn a ton of things about canning, dehydrating, and organic food prep from her. You bet.

I learned how to graft fruit trees from a Catholic Nun. Simple You tube videos produced by Mormon women helped me prepare my food insurance and live cheaper. So far, I haven't become a Nun or a Mormon. Learn from everybody, that's my motto.


Thank you for listening to Radio Ecoshock. A special thanks to those who supported the broadcast this week. That will help me attend the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup Washington at the start of June, to get a lot of how-to interviews for you. Find out how you can contribute here.

I'm Alex Smith. Let's meet again next week.

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