EPISODE 91 : Turn the world into a giant food forest, Howard Jacobson’s ultimate goal.

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Howard Jacobson, PhD, is an online marketing consultant, health educator, and ecological gardener from Durham, N.C. He earned a Masters of Public Health and Doctor of Health Studies degrees from Temple University, and a BA in History from Princeton.

Howard cofounded VitruvianWay.com, an online marketing agency, and is a coauthor of Google AdWords For Dummies. His current life goal is to turn the world into a giant food forest.

In this Show, You’ll learn:

  • The value of a whole plant based diet.
  • His role in The China Study book.
  • How to get back into growing your own food.
  • The relationship between yogis in the west and east.
  • Nutritional tip: how to choose a good vinegar.

Links & References from the Show

Got questions?


Yoga students, if you love to learn about yoga, health and wellness, plant-based nutrition, flexibility and mind/body biohacking, you have come to the right place, my friend. Welcome to the Yoga Talk Show with Lucas Rockwood, where my goal is to make your yoga practice just that much easier. Find us online at YogaBodyNaturals.com. We’re also on Facebook and YouTube. Check us out. Now let’s get on with the show.

So hello and welcome, everyone. Lucas Rockwood here, The Yoga Talk Show. Thanks for tuning in. I’ve got a very special guest today. I’m here with Howard Jacobson, who’s a PhD. He’s an online marketing consultant, a health educator, an ecological gardener from Durham, North Carolina.

He earned a Master’s of public health and Doctor of health studies degrees from Temple University and a BA of history from Princeton. So basically he’s a really smart dude. Howard co-founded VitruvianWay.com. Am I saying right, Howard?


Close enough.


Okay, VitruvianWay.com, which is an online marketing agency, and he’s the co-author of a book called Google Adwords for Dummies, which is a great book by the way, and his current lifelong goal is to turn the world into a big, giant food forest, which sounds great to me.

So Howard, welcome to the show.


Thanks, Lucas. I’m looking forward to chatting with you.


So I’ve got a bunch of questions about your work and about the giant food forest idea and about your newest book. (01:31) But before we jump into that, for people listening who have never heard of you before or maybe they know you from your Adwords book, tell us about this new direction, at least new to some of your readers.


(01:45) Yeah, well I’ve been interested in health for a long time. In fact, my foray into the business world was sort of an accidental hop, skip, jump and stumble out of my interest in health. I’d earned a Doctorate in health studies in 1999, and I thought I would go into the business world and teach them about health and stress management and nutrition and things like that, and it turns out I knew nothing about business.

So I kind of gave myself a crash course and discovered marketing after a while, and that became what I did for 10, 15 years. I kind of put the health stuff on the side. Marketing was something I intuitively knew was very important in getting any message out there. It was certainly easier to make money helping people market than to help them de-stress, and frankly it’s a little seductive to be learning from great marketers and then starting to fancy myself one. So for all those reasons I took a long detour, but really the stuff around health and nutrition and environmental stewardship is the stuff that I’ve been passionate about all along.


Awesome. Well I know you’ve just released a new book, or just recently, called Whole. I’m really, really excited to read it. I’m a compulsive reader, especially health books. My wife makes fun of me. I read all of them, all sides, the left and the right, everything in between. (03:23) I haven’t read it yet, but for people who are listening who are not familiar with your book that you coauthored, give us a bird’s eye view of what it’s all about, how you became involved and what kind of impact it’s having.


Sure. (03:36) Well the book, the main author of the book is T. Colin Campbell, who some folks may recognize from his earlier book, The China Study, or for the movie that popularized his story and nutritional theories, Forks Over Knives. He had written The China Study, it had come out in late 2004, and it kind of went into great detail around his own research and the research of a lot of other people around the relationship between diet and disease. He felt that it was pretty airtight evidence that a whole food, plant-based diet, which is to say no processed foods, or limiting processed foods and limiting or eliminating animal-based foods was the healthiest human diet.

(04:31) Since that time, there have been many studies that have backed that up, and lots of people have seen great improvements in their health. Whether they go full out, whole food, plant-based or I’d say halfway, say by doing Paleo and simply eliminating processed food but not the animal products, but in every case people have seen tremendous health improvements. And he was wondering, after a few years, why when the data is so clear, the benefits are so huge, did this not seem to be getting traction in public discourse. So for example, one of the huge debates over the past five years has been healthcare debate. And the debate about healthcare is not about how do we provide healthcare; it’s about who’s going to pay and how much.

And he was saying, well this is crazy. What is stopping people from adopting these very, very common, sensible ideas that we don’t need to be pouring billions of dollars a year into drug research, we don’t need to be building giant new hospitals, million-dollar machines. That should be kind of the last resort. The first should be lifestyle medicine and getting people to improve their lifestyles. And what’s the resistance?

(05:55) He wrote a book about it, and he identified basically two things: The profit motive, that a lot of people stand to make a lot of money from keeping us confused and on the wrong track, as in a pharmaceutical company makes a lot more money from a chronic condition that they have to manage than from curing something. And the second thing was something he called reductionism. The idea that everything is the sum of its parts, and that there are no synergies and there’s no complexity. That if you just figure out, like if you look at an apple, all you have to do is figure out what are the key active ingredients in the apple and you can take those out, synthesize them, put them into a pill and you don’t really need the apple anymore.

(06:46) So he had been working on this pretty much since 2007, and we had been friends for quite a while and I was living in South Africa and I got an email from him one day saying he’s not entirely satisfied with the manuscript, could I help him out, do some editing. And this was around December 2011, and we started working together and it went from simple editing, sort of grammar, punctuation clean up to really conversations that led to a restructuring of the whole book and the whole argument.

(07:26) At a certain point, I had quoted him a fee based on sort of an estimate of how many hours it would take me, it was going to be totally a consulting job, sub-contracting. And at a certain point he called me and he said I’m not satisfied with our arrangement. I think your name should be on the book as a contributing author. And then after a while he said, you know I think you should be on the cover. And then he said I think you should be getting royalties. And then he writes again and he says, I think you should be getting more royalties. So that should give people a sense of the integrity of this guy. I was prepared to work for the initial fee and that was it, because that was what we had bargained for.

But in May 2013 the book came out, and it’s gotten a gratified response from lots of people. One of my favorites is an endorsement by Tony Gonzales, the tight end for the Atlanta Falcons and lots of people have said this has opened their eyes. So I’m really proud and privileges to have been a part of telling the story.


Cool, I love the making of story. That’s awesome. I’m a plant-based guy, and I’ve been doing and teaching plant-based nutrition for about 12 years now and I’ve seen huge results in my life and the lives of my students and my clients. We have yoga programs and all kinds of different work that we’ve done. And then you have medical support for this. You have people like T. Colin Campbell doing his research, you have Dean Ornish reversing heart disease, guys like Gabrielle Cousins reversing diabetes. So I mean, I’m a huge fan and I think there’s a whole volume of literature and case studies and all kinds of things to support it.

But I’m also kind of this fanatical, neurotic researcher, and the deeper I dig I do find that there’s lots of other people getting pretty good results doing other things, in some cases amazing results. And some of them are doing moderate to even heavy animal products, and things that used to seem really black and white to me are not so much so. I mean for me it’s really clear. I’ve been very, very happy with the way I eat and I feel great and everything works, but in recent years I’ve had more questions than answers.

And so obviously the plant-based discussion is a huge discussion. We’re talking about planet and we’re talking about economy and all these things. (10:01) But if we just took a look at nutrition, from your experience and your really, really extensive research and your own lifestyle, do you think that the people who are doing really well on a Paleo thing or somebody who’s a ketogenic athlete, are these people anomalies, is their clock ticking or are there just perhaps more than one way to get healthy? And this is just a general big idea to throw out there at you.


Right (10:30) Well I would say first of all that if anyone came to me and said hey, this is what I’m doing and it really works, I would bless them and tell them to continue doing it, unless they’re like eating babies. It’s important to look at the bigger consequences of our actions, and that’s a conversation I’m happy to have with people. But one of the things I was doing in Africa was studying Zulu Shamanism. It’s a very different point of view than any sort of Western model theistic religion. One of the big tenets was the idea that words are very powerful and words misused are curses, are literally curses.

(11:16) And that made me much more careful about telling people, oh your diet’s going to kill you, your diet’s going to give you a heart attack, because my words may end up being more powerful than their diet.


Sure, absolutely.


(11:29) So one of the things I don’t do whenever I’m conscious enough to avoid it is preach or proselytize. I like to share the research findings and I have been, with the book, really sharing a lot of the kind of shocking and disgusting cover-ups that I found from people with vested interested in keeping the truth from us. There’s a lot of money to be made in pushing certain ideas and certain products. And so I call that out when I see it, because I see that as an important crusade, to help people see that we’ve been put into a trance. We’ve been taught that the government’s going to take care of us, our doctors will take care of us, our medical system will take care of us, it’s natural to gain a pound a year from the age of 30 on, it’s natural to get stints when we’re 55, it’s natural for half of us to die of heart disease, to be debilitated and to suffer from cancer.

(12:35) And so the idea that we can take responsibility for our health is very tenuous. And even people who sort of believe it, don’t totally believe it, I don’t know about you but when I started this journey I was still heavily — if I really get sick I’m running back to the doctor. At a certain point you do enough yoga, you do enough self-healing, you start to believe it.

(13:01) But in terms of other people’s own experiences, I am very reluctant to tell something that they’re not experiencing what they say they’re experiencing. That feels profoundly disrespectful to me. So all I can do is talk about here is research. I actually don’t know of any large-scale research that supports the Paleo or ketogenic. I haven’t seen studies that look good to me. One guy I’ve been following a lot is Dave Asprey, who wrote Bullet Proof Executive.


Yeah, we had him on the show just last week.


Okay, so he has a page on his website of a bunch of studies that he says prove the efficacy of the bullet proof diet. And I went through, he had about 20 or 30 citations, I went through the first 5 and I was really shocked because I really think he’s a smart guy, very big heart, really wants to do the right thing and I was just shocked at the poor quality of these studies. There was a study that literally compared two people. There was another study that had like 19 children in Finland. I’m not quoting it exactly, but the quality of the research compared to what’s out there around plant-based, it just shocked me. Maybe he’s not a research scientist, he doesn’t understand research design and what things mean. There’s a lot of people who are scientists who think that the only proper trial is a randomized, double-blind clinical trial, and that has certain potency and certain efficacy, but not much. Not in dealing with holistic interventions like lifestyle.

(14:55) So I have to say, I honor peoples’ anecdotal stories. I kind of think that processed food is so awful that if you move away from it you’re going to get great results no matter what you do, at least for a time. If someone starts eating lots of animal products and starts feeling great and they weren’t feeling great before, I’m not going to argue with them. I don’t think I have a clear message, but I kind of have a clear philosophy. Let’s talk about the data, let’s talk about what it means. But to someone who’s experienced something personally, that’s going to weight more than every clinical trial combined.


Sure. With diets there’s always a lot of emphasis on what’s not eaten, instead of what is. For example, the Paleo people, they do not eat bread. It’s like this war against bread, which fair enough. The raw foodists, they do not eat cooked food. And the vegetarians, they don’t eat meat. I’ve certainly fallen victim to this in my teaching, in my own life, and more recently I’ve just been trying to focus on what are people doing as opposed to what they’re not doing. My gut tells me there’s probably a whole lot more to learn from that.

(16:17) And I’m curious, in your work with T. Colin Campbell and your focus, do you have a similar approach or do you think the not is really a key as well?


That’s a great question. Here’s the thing about the not. (16:31) If you’re focusing on what you’re not eating, then what are you doing while you’re eating? AS a yoga person you understand the importance of like mindfulness, of being here now. If you’re focusing on what you’re not eating then you’re focusing on those things. You’re focusing on eggs, on bread, on sugar, on animal products. So if they’re so bad in your body, why are they better in your mind?

(17:00) One thing that blew me away was I went to an alternative practitioner who did a whole bunch of body testing on me and had me hold glass vials with little bits of stuff in it, like here’s a little bit of sugar, here’s a little bit of soy and would test me. And I would test strong for some things and weak for other things, and when I didn’t even know what was in them. So if the idea of the food makes me weak I shouldn’t be thinking about it.

So when I go to the store, I don’t go to the store with a not shopping list. I don’t have a list of the 54,000 SKUs that I’m not going to buy. That seems just very inefficient and counterintuitive. I just put on there, I’m going to get broccoli, I’m going to get mushrooms, I’m going to get spinach, I’m going to get bananas, I’m going to get dates. It’s much easier. And that way I’m thinking positively, I’m imagining the food, how I’m going to cook it, how I’m going to prepare it, how I’m going to serve it, the love I’m going to share with my family when we eat it together and celebrate Mother Earth and her abundance.

(18:11) So I understand where making the list of don’ts come in, but it could be like a very short-term fuel for change. It doesn’t feel sustainable to me.


Right. Food becomes religion very, very quickly, and that’s one of the reason that I think the whole vegan, vegetarian, raw foodist crew gets kind of vilified. The Paleo community is doing the same thing. It becomes this religion, where I feel like people can’t see straight and they really lose perspective. At first with all the best intentions, and then I think that they fall into the traps of just not thinking critically.

One thing that’s interesting to me with The China Study, which was this really, really fascinating book, and it’s just fallen under so much criticism and I just think of it like the Bible, how you can find anything you want in it. I read it and it seemed like it proved Paleo, it proved plant-based, it proved it all, like eating natural food and yet either side uses it as their kind of dagger in the side of each other. The Paleo people want to prove that you’re going to die a short and painful life eating plants, and the plant-based people want to prove all the meat eaters are going to die.

(19:30) And I’m curious how you see food and religion and belief systems kind of coming into play.


Right. (19:34) Well one of the things I’ve learned, and I’m almost 49 years old and it’s taking me a long time to learn it, is that I need the truth a lot more than the truth needs me. So something I really value in conversations with people is curiosity. So if I have a finding that contradicts their current belief system, to they immediately want to go discredit it or are they curious? If we’re talking about vegans where it’s an ethical imperative as opposed to the question of health, then we are talking about religion versus science. You’re not going to convince someone rationally that an ethical belief is right or wrong.

(20:28) But if we’re just talking about health, one of the things that frustrates me is that people on both sides talk through each other, rather than really listening. And I think it’s not just in the plant-based world. I think it’s in our culture. I think if you watch TV or engage in any sort of public discourse it’s kind of a shouting match and somebody wins and somebody loses. It’s very rare that you see examples of people with opposing viewpoints, both committed to seeking truth.

(21:00) Now I’ve just been reading a book by a journalist named Kathryn Schulz. The book is called Being Wrong, and it’s really, really interesting. One of the things she points out is that virtually everything that science has ever discovered in the history of science has been proved wrong by subsequent science. Right? So now we’re the only generation to have gotten it right, which is pretty much the same as saying, well we’re the only generation who’s never died. Every other human has died, but we haven’t. Aren’t we great?

(21:35) So the idea that we have the truth is just so preposterous. So I understand we have our belief systems. We can talk about this. People are very passionate because they’ll discover something and it will literally save their lives and they’ll become zealous about it, or they discover something and they’re trying to interject this new identity and it feels a little bit foreign so they protect it by projecting outward that everyone who believes what they used to believe is misguided or evil.

I understand where a lot of the fear comes from, but I think it’s useful for all of us to be a little bit humble, because look at an apple. We know almost nothing about an apple. We know almost nothing about vitamin C. Vitamin C turns out to be 75,000 different things. The minute we turn our microscope at anything and try to nail it down and say we understand it, we discover that it’s a whole universe.

(22:51) So I understand where the religiosity and the crusades come from, and I think they get in the way of our happiness, they get in the way of getting along, they get in the way of sane food policy. I’m willing to try things. I’m agnostic because I’ve studied enough to know how little we know.


Yeah. Well you’re a guy who thinks about these things, so I’m curious of your thoughts. When you look at the future of food and what’s happening, where things are going to end up, it certainly doesn’t look that great in terms of things don’t, at least in the short term, seem to be getting that much better. When you look at the plant world or the animal world, to me just in terms of the economic reality, the nutritional and environmental reality, it doesn’t seem possible that there’s going to be this — people call it a meat-based diet but it’s chicken, pigs and cows. That’s not really meat. That’s three animals.

(23:57) And I’m curious, in the future, what do you think is really going to dominate? Obviously on the plant-based side of things these huge monocrops are just as problematic, whether it’s soy or corn or wheat or whatever it is, so what do you see as an idealistic future? You have this whole world turned into a garden. What’s going to be growing?


(24:23) There’s definitely a lot of room for negativity and pessimism here. My vegan friends point out that you can’t feed the world on an animal-based diet. And I ask my vegan friends whether you can feed the world on a vegan diet, because I’m not sure when you do the math that we can feed this many people. So there’s a fundamental design flaw in humanity right now, which is that we have borrowed from our future. Why do we have so many people alive today? Because we have had this agricultural revolution, and the agricultural revolution came from stealing sunlight that’s been buried in the earth for millions of years and we’re using it up. So it’s all oil-based. So that’s not going to last.

(25:19) So it feels a little bit like we’re on a bus with no brakes, no driver, heading for a cliff and we’re arguing about whether if we had brakes we should put them on. That’s why I say we need the truth more than the truth needs us. The reality is that the argument of Paleo versus vegan in terms of the environment is a red herring, because neither one, they’re both based on this idea that what we have is sustainable somehow and I don’t think it is.

(25:58) You quoted my introduction, my desire to turn the world into a giant food forest. I’m very interested not in agriculture but in horticulture, the difference being not huge crops but getting back to people growing their own food, whether a family or in a community. The reasons to have local-based food production are so myriad, from security if you’re worried about terrorist threats, from security if you’re worried about transportation or peak oil and the cost of transporting goods, from the health benefits of food grown in local soil, to the psychological benefits of getting people back in touch with natural rhythms.

(26:50) And so I’ve been gardening for a long time and one of the things I’ve discovered is that planting annual crops is a really hard thing to do, it takes a lot of energy, whereas forests don’t seem to take any energy at all. So I became, a couple years ago, interested in a discipline called permaculture, which simply asks the question, what does a sustainable and regenerative human culture look like on this planet. What would it look like if we were to mimic nature in how we grow food?

If you look at every animal on the planet, every organism on the planet, they all have one thing in common. They all contribute to their ecosystem. They’re all a net positive on their ecosystem, and if they weren’t they wouldn’t continue to exist. So the bear eats the salmon, climbs up the hill, shits under a tree and releases fertilizer, nutrients, everybody benefits from the bear. The individual salmon not so much, but salmon as a species absolutely. The trees, everything is improved by the bear’s existence in the ecosystem. Then along comes humanity, and we’re arguably the only species in the history of the planet for whom that’s not true. Everywhere we go for the last 10,000 years we’re a net negative.

(28:21) So the question is, can we figure out a way to get back to Eden and be a net positive on our ecosystem, so that wherever we are there is more biodiversity, more biomass, more abundance and I think that’s the challenge. And there’s a lot of people doing amazing work on that front, if you just go look up food forests and look on YouTube or look for permaculture solutions. The ideas are spreading, and there are people with way more understanding and experience than I have promoting them and they’re just folks that I follow and learn from and try to emulate and share their ideas.


It’s interesting. I live in Barcelona in a big city, and here like in a lot of big cities, there’s kind of this vertical garden movement, and unfortunately a lot of it’s really moot. People are basically growing cilantro or they’re growing parsley, or they have a mint bush that can make tea for one dinner party. My whole thing is I don’t know what has happened, but I was a kid in the 80s and we had sprouters and our kitchen and I have sprouters in my kitchen, and anytime anyone comes over they’re just like jaw dropped that plants grow and they want instructions. And the instructions are you rinse them. You rinse them twice a day. No, but what else? That’s it, you just rinse them.

This kind of thing, for whatever reason, gardening is really evoked, but it’s this kind of silly hobby gardening, and I’m really excited to see when people actually are trying to have a go at feeding at least some portion of their diet through — I always say insects, algae and sprouts, I think are the future of food, but not many people get too excited when I lay out that menu. But it certainly seems like one of the few things that would really lend itself well to vertical gardening and positive contribution, like you mentioned.


(30:20) Yeah, and we talk about vertical gardening, there is so much exciting work being done all around the world. I don’t think that human technology is a bad thing. I think human technology, we create these brilliant things, we’ve got all these eye gadgets and Google glass and stuff people are very excited about, and I’m looking for sustainable technologies. I was just listening to an interview with a guy I haven’t thought of in like 20 years, the Canadian children’s entertainer Raffi, who did like Baby Beluga in the Deep Blue Sea, these kids songs, and he just wrote a book called Light Web Dark Web, and one of the things he was saying really resonated with me, which is we need to create technologies for sustainability.

We don’t have to go back to living as Paleo people, literally as cavemen. There were probably 25,000 of them on the planet, they probably didn’t have a huge impact and that’s one way to live, to just go backwards, but I do believe that it’s possible, and it’s imperative, human beings have a trajectory. We have a spiritual trajectory, and we’re just in a dark place right now. This is the part of the movie where everyone’s like biting their nails and guzzling popcorn because they’re so nervous.

(31:55) But I think if we start to shift from reductionism to a holistic view of what is the effect of the system on this thing that I want to create, I think we can find solutions. But we’re not going to find solutions with the same kind of technological mindset, like we’re going to solve global warming by putting giant pipes to the sky. I think we’re going to solve the problem by solving it at its root and not just creating more externalities.


Sure. Well great, well, Howard, this has been awesome. Thanks so much. We have a lot of people on the show and usually somebody’s trying to deliver some kind of food agenda and it’s really nice to have somebody just sharing what they know and sharing experiences, so I really appreciate it. For people who want to learn more about you and your work and your books, where is the best place that we could send them?


(32:51) I would say you could follow me on Facebook. I post occasionally, /wholebook.


Perfect, and the book is available on Amazon and Kindle. Is that correct?




Perfect, well great. Well thanks so much, Howard. Thanks, everybody for listening, and I hope to talk to you again very soon.

You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers. Welcome to the FAQ round. If you’ve got something you’d like to ask, please send it into [email protected]. Now let’s hear what’s going on with our listeners.

Silvia asks:

(33:31) Do yogis in India like or dislike yogis in the West? Do Indian yogis have bad feelings towards Western ones?

This is an interesting question. It’s not something I could answer. Everybody is quite different. I run a yoga teacher training program called Absolute Yoga Academy. We certify yoga teachers, lots and lots of programs, really great teacher training programs, and we get Indian students coming from India coming to our trainings in Thailand or in other parts of the world. Indian students from India who prefer to study with Western teachers. At the same token, there’s lots and lots of Western students who go to Indian teachers to learn yoga. It’s not one or the other.

The one thing is they’re very, very different, in general in terms of the approach to yoga. The other thing you’ll find in India is just like in the U.S., yoga can mean lots of different things. Yoga tradition could mean anything from a spiritual recluse, like a monk, to somebody who does human feats very similar to Strong Man competitions and contortionists and freak circus sideshow. All of that has, and to some degree still is part of the yoga tradition. So it’s really hard to generalize. I think probably for traditional yoga teachers in India, they probably look to the West and it looks a little crazy, but in all fairness a lot of Western yoga teachers look to the East and it looks a little wild as well. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong thing. I think if it makes you feel good, if it doesn’t hurt anybody, if you don’t hurt yourself, and even better if you’re helping yourself, I think it’s all great. Any style of yoga that’s improving your life in any way, I say hey go for it.

Powell asks:

(35:15) I once read Tibetan Buddhist say that blissfully sitting might be nice, but it’s practically useless. So what is the point of Sumati? Does it actually have a benefit, and why do yogis value it so much?

So in the yoga tradition, in lots of spiritual traditions, people talk about Sumati, or also called nirvana, and the idea is that it’s the highest destination in yoga. It’s not really the goal but the destination, maybe where you arrive. People describe it differently, a Kundalini awakening, a nirvana state, the ultimate spiritual state. So what is the point? Does it have a benefit? Why do yogis value it so much? Well it sounds pretty great. I could do with some nirvana, some peace and bliss. But I don’t really think about these things. I’m a pretty practical, boring, left brain kind of guy, and so when I’m doing yoga practice I’m usually thinking hey I’m hoping this will keep me in good shape, I’m hoping this will keep me healthy, I’m hoping this will give me some patience and some concentration, some stress relief, some focus to deal with my family and my work. I don’t really have big thoughts like Sumati. I think big about some things, but when it comes to my personal life and my spirituality I’m a pretty small thinker.

And so what is the point? I don’t know if there’s a point. I certainly feel like there’s a point to yoga practice and I think for people who are trying to achieve elevated spiritual states, I think that’s pretty interesting. It’s not for me, but I think it’s an interesting thing to be working towards. Not an amazing answer, but not something that I’m probably the right guy to ask about that stuff.

Hope that’s helpful, Lucas Rockwood here. If you have questions, email them into [email protected].

The food you eat affects your body and mind every day. Welcome to the nutritional tip of the week, where we explore plant-based diets, super food nutrition, edible insects and new tropics. The goal here is mind/body biohacking for a better you and a better planet. So hey, let’s talk nutrition.

(37:26) Today’s nutritional tip of the day is all about vinegar. Vinegar is another one of these very controversial foods. Some people believe that it is terrible, poison, kills your body. Other people think that it’s the fountain of youth and an amazing health food. I think it can be either. I think most of the vinegars that are sold and commonly eaten are garbage, but I think a homemade vinegar, a natural vinegar, an unpasteurized vinegar for the right person can be an amazing, amazing health tonic.

(37:53) So what is commonly available? So what’s commonly available when you go to the grocery store, the oils and the vinegars that you find on the shelves, most of them are really highly processed. You’ve got your sunflower and safflower oils, those yellow and orange-looking motor oil kind of things, and then you’ve got your vinegars which are these beautiful, cherry red and deep amber colors.

(38:14) The truth is, most of these are fake. So they started with some kind of fermented base, maybe they started with grapes, as in the case with balsamic vinegar, maybe they started with rice, like rice vinegar, maybe they started with apples, and then they start adding colorings and preservatives, they add sulfites, they add all kinds of things that you don’t really want to be eating. A lot of them add sugar and flavorings also. And so you end up with what is very similar to like the beverage industry. That’s what you end up with in your vinegars, and it’s completely unnecessary and it doesn’t even taste as good.

(38:45) So what is a good vinegar? Well to me a good vinegar is a natural vinegar, and any kind of vinegar could potentially be good, meaning you could get a really good balsamic vinegar. You could get a really good apple cider vinegar or a white rice vinegar. Any of the above could be good, but they tend to be hard to find. The easiest one to find naturally tends to be apple cider vinegar. In the U.S. and other parts of the world there’s a brand called Braggs, which is perhaps the most famous unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, which I think is pretty good. Currently where I live, we order vinegar from *** (39:24), which is a region of Spain, of sort of Northwestern Spain, where they make cider and they make vinegars, and the vinegars are very, very delicious and natural. It’s just literally rotten apples.

(39:39) So a couple of things you need to know about vinegar. The first is that most vinegars are what would be called a wild ferment. And so they have something called the mother, and the mother is this bacteria starter, and in many cases it’s generations old. And so it’s what starts the fermentation process, and so a lot of times people will make vinegars from a mother and so it’s wild fermented. What this means is that depending on what is in the mother, good bacteria and bad bacteria are always in there, but they could be in there in a ratio that could cause problems. So it depends on who’s making the vinegar and what’s in there, but in some cases it could lead to bacterial growth in your body. It certainly can. And for some people, especially people who are suffering from Candida and fungal overgrowth, chronic yeast infections, these kinds of things, sometimes some vinegars can make those things worse.

(40:31) The complication here is that sometimes it can actually make it better, so it’s really a tough thing to make a judgment call on, but you can get a really good read on it yourself if you’re eating clean and you take a nice, big dose of vinegar and see how you feel. For example, take two tablespoons of vinegar in the morning with water and see how you feel. For a lot of people it is incredible for your digestion, it’s incredible for your energy. A lot of people it cleans up their bowels and they start to have healthier and more regular stools. For me it’s just a really, really fantastic food. But again, like any fermented foods, there are histamines and there are complications that come from wild fermented food, and you need to be aware of that. But in general, I think vinegars can be really, really great. They’re multi-purpose, they’re really great for cleansing foods. I also use really cheap white vinegar to clean vegetables and to clean produce. It’s a very, very safe, natural cleaner. So I think they’re great.

But in all cases, you need to buy good vinegar because most of the vinegar that’s in your cupboard right now and most of the vinegar that’s at your grocery store is really not much better than the beverage industry, processed with sweeteners and colors and stuff you don’t want. So buy natural vinegars, and pay attention to your body and what works for you.

Hope that’s helpful, we’ll talk to you soon. You’ve been listening to the Yoga Talk Show with Lucas Rockwood. If you like this show, I always appreciate reviews and ratings on the iTunes Store. It helps other listeners find out about what we’re doing, and it keeps me motivated to dig around and find new and diverse topics to share with you. For complete show notes, links to everything discussed in the show, along with a ton of other free yoga videos and online resources, please head over to YogaBodyNaturals.com. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll talk to you very soon.