Back this week – July 26

Back earlier than expected (due to disastrous nature of the sailing venture!), so will be at the market this week, one week earlier than announced.

I got some really great brick oven sourdough breads from two bakeries in the US, one in Vermont, the other in Deer Island Maine. So I am going to do a sort of experimental bake featuring traditional miche – large 2.5 kg loaves.

Also, I found out why I had difficulty getting my Red Fife white flour this spring: American organic meat producers are expanding and buying up large quantities of organic grain (shame on them, they should be promoting pasture-fed!), which is squeezing the small organic bakeries with their much smaller orders. Indeed, both bakeries are using Meunerie Milanaise flours even though it is more expensive than most American equivalents and based in Canada.


If I hadn’t been such a fool for sailing vessels this past  year, I could have afforded a new stone mill from Komo (Cost about $1500) with sieves meaning I could make higher quality fresh-ground whole grain loaves, but also freshly sifted, fresh-ground white flour meaning I would only have to buy the kernels, which are cheaper. But that is going to have to wait another year or longer until I am back in the black. Meanwhile, I am very happy with the Speerville Whole White which varies from 80-90% extraction, albeit it means I cannot make the sort of fluffy, light-coloured loaves that many prefer. They are better for you!


Uisce break

Thanks to the help of friends, I purchased a 2012 custom-built 45 ft gaff-rigged Sharpie-style yawl.

Sharpie-style means she is flat-bottomed, and her length is about 4-5 times her width, which in this case is 11′. Her depth board up is 2′ which is extremely shallow for a boat this length, and 6′ board down.

Her ‘rig’ is gaff-rigged (upper spar on four-sided mainsail), and yawl – meaning a smaller sail on second ‘mizzen’ mast aft of the rudder. She also is cutter-rigged in that she has two foresails up front.

So here is a picture of her without sails:

1 from stern

In any case, on June 17 I leave to take possession, varnish her up, get to know her for a week or so, and then – hopefully – sail her up starting early July and arriving back in Cape Breton around July 20. This passage will be chronicled – or blogged – at:


Uisce is her name: it means ‘water’ in gaelic, which for me is an old, sacred, pre-industrial language, so it is like ‘Water Goddess’ or ‘Sacred Water’ to my mind. But also, the word has a good ring to it, and also a chipper subtext. The Uisce!

Feel free to follow along!

After GMO: Synthetic Biology – a ‘new industrial revolution’ on the way

All DNA is made of the same four chemicals in no end of different combinations and series: Synthetic Biology 1Then you make synthetic, Man-Made DNA based on that coded design:

synthetic man-made DNAfrom the article:

“New Form of GMO Sneaking Into Food Supply This Year

Old-Thinker News | March 17, 2014

By Daniel Taylor

Within 50 years we could have more life forms invented in a lab than we have ever identified in nature.” – Fidelity Investments

This year [Evolva] will release a product that has been created by genetically modified yeast that converts sugars to vanillin. It will be the first major synthetic-biology food additive to hit supermarkets.” –

A Switzerland based company called Evolva has developed a synthetic vanilla that is set to be released in 2014. The vanilla is created using a process of genetic engineering called synthetic biology.

Synthetic biology, according to a 2005 European Commission paper is “…the engineering of biology… the synthesis of complex, biologically based (or inspired) systems which display functions that do not exist in nature.” Unlike the older science of splicing genes from different species together, synthetic biology is seeking to create whole new organisms that do not exist on earth.

Evolva’s synthetic vanilla is created by inserting computer coded DNA into yeast. This new method of genetic engineering is called “natural” by Evolva.

Environmental organizations like Friends of the Earth have recognized the potential danger posed by synthetic biology. In its Synthetic Biology Vanillin fact sheet, FoE points out the distinct lack of oversight regarding the health impact of ingesting these engineered ingredients. The organization has launched a campaign called No Synbio Vanilla to tell ice cream makers Haagen Dazs, Dreyers, Baskin Robbins and others not to use synthetic biology vanilla.

Foods that have been genetically modified in the “traditional” method have been linked to sterility in hamsters. The dramatic rise in food allergies has also been speculated to be linked to GMO foods. What health impacts will emerge after eating foods with synthetic DNA that our environment and our bodies have never before encountered?

The Big Picture

Synthetic biology goes well beyond engineering our food. Geneticist Craig Venter is a pioneer in the field of synthetic biology. In 2010 the media hailed his team’s success in creating “the first self-replicating species we’ve had on the planet whose parent is a computer.”

Currently, companies cannot patent naturally occuring DNA. Synthetic biology will allow syn-bio companies a loophole through patent laws. “One could theoretically upload a DNA sequence onto a computer, “print out” an exact copy of that DNA sequence, and patent the synthetic DNA sequence as an invention,” Gene Watch reports.

Google founder Larry Page met with Craig Venter in California at the Edge billionaires meeting in 2010. Also present were representatives from the State department, Bill Gates, Anne Wojcicki, Bill Joy and dozens of other tech company CEO’s and scientists.

The Edge Billionaire meetings have discussed the future of genetic engineering, biocomputation and re-designing humanity in a transhumanist era. Physicist Freeman Dyson described the individuals leading this group as having god-like power to create entirely new species on earth in a “New Age of Wonder”. He describes them as:

“…a new generation of artists, writing genomes as fluently as Blake and Byron wrote verses, might create an abundance of new flowers and fruit and trees and birds to enrich the ecology of our planet.”

In the societal divide that will inevitably ensue over the development of these technologies, Fred Charles Ikle, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy under President Reagan, sees a possibility of “Annihilation from Within.” “The prospect is that in the decades ahead, biotechnology – together with other sciences – may fundamentally change the human species and thus pose an elemental threat to democracy, the world order, and indeed to all civilizations,” writes Ikle.

The technological elite are engaged in a mission to attain full spectrum dominance over life and its complex processes, and in the process re-write the genetic code of the planet.”

From a conference in the video clip:

“We are here to announce the first synthetic cell.”

[Comments:]   If they could first fix the damage done to the soil, plant, insect, fungal and animal species wreaked by modern industry including the overly-simplistic and short-sighted agro-business (aka ‘maximise yield, deplete the nutrients, kill the soil’) model, then maybe they could approach technology like this rather than just ploughing ahead with the next damaging thing just because it is new, it is fancy and it can make a large corporation and their owners (the same cartels which own most of the world’s major businesses and governments) richer.

When is this all going to stop?

When enough of us choose to live differently. Easier said than done, but more of us need to try before it is too late. I hope young people growing up today wake up and have the courage to do something about all this because otherwise the world their children and grandchildren live in will be almost devoid of access to any true nature, and therefore true beauty, true sanity, true simplicity.

How to make your own Beet kvass

Beet kvass is similary to rye bread kvass. I would personally love to make and sell both of these but Canadian Health regulations make it basically impossible for a small scale producer, whilst thereby also protecting supermarkets who hate competition from real, aka alive, foods, which they cannot easily supply given they like things with extended shelf life (the real reason for pasteurization, along with making sharing milk trucks to facilitate more long-distance distribution).

Here is the lead-in article from the GreenMed website I used for a couple of earlier posts about the benefits of sourdough fermentation for celiacs.

In 2009 researchers at the University of Exeter found that beetroot juice enables people to exercise for up to 16% longer, leading athletes to experiment with its effects. A follow-up study suggested that drinking beetroot juice could help a much wider range of people.

The small study, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, followed nine healthy young men doing low intensity exercise and found that they used less oxygen while walking, effectively reducing the effort it took to walk by 12%. The authors believe that for older people with cardiovascular issues who take in less oxygen, beetroot juice could help them do things that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.

The beetroot juice both widens blood vessels, reducing blood pressure and allowing more blood flow, and at the same time, it reduces the amount of oxygen needed by muscles during activity. The two effects combined have a significant impact on performing both low-intensity and high intensity physical tasks.

The study concluded that the high levels of nitrate in the beetroot juice are responsible for the effects. Nitrate in beet juice is converted by bacteria on the tongue into the chemical nitrite which eventually enters the blood stream, and lowers blood pressure. Consuming nitrate-rich vegetables, such as beets, spinach, lettuce and other leafy greens may contribute to a healthy cardiovascular system.

How can you get the benefits of beet juice in your own workout or just your everyday activities? You can always buy beets and juice them yourself.  However, if you are not up for that, you can find beet kvass at your local health food store.

Kvass is a lacto-fermented beverage from Russia made traditionally from stale sourdough rye bread. It is considered a tonic for digestion, and has been known as an antidote to a hangover. In addition to bread, various kinds of kvass are made with beets, currants, raspberries, lemons, apples, pears, cherries, bilberries and lingonberries.  When buying beet kvass, look for a raw, probiotic, organic version.

It’s also easy to make your own beet kvass; here’s how.

Now back to the main article, excerpts:

About Flax

Flax is being used in more loaves of late, and in my case this is fresh-ground immediately before being mixed into the dough and soaking along with the dough for 20-30 hours before baking.

Here is a solid article overviewing many of the benefits of flax. I didn’t know about the phyto-estrogen/ Lignans related issue which has favorable effects for both men and women. Generally speaking I don’t put much stock in these sorts of lists, but on the other hand, based on how it tastes and how I feel using it, am convinced it is a very beneficial ingredient and I find am using it in more an more dishes, especially morning oatmeal and daily brown rice.

There is a diet which highly recommends mixing fresh ground flax with (properly fermented) cottage cheese. The Budwig Diet – “The Flaxseed oil and cottage cheese of Dr. Johanna Budwig as well as the ultra high nutritional formula TRICAN® corrects the original “document” or DNA of the cells with a blast of ultra high nutrition. That way the DNA will now start producing healthy cells instead of distorted and diseased cells. That is the real solution to cancer and disease.”

When the Iron Bird Flies

I just realised I could post a link to my old book on this blog, so here it is:

The ScribD blurb:

When the Iron Bird Flies

An introduction to Buddhism via Tibetan schools initially designed for younger Western readers. Written in the early 1990’s, contracted to Crossroads-Herder NYC (who published the Pope amongst others) but not published because they went out of business. Gives an overview of the main theory and method of the three main levels of the buddhist tradition known as the Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana. Of particular interest for those unfamiliar with the tradition might be the introduction of the Six Realms which give a graphic, intuitive, provocative and perhaps different explanation/description of the various states of mind experienced by all of us both over the course of a life and from moment to moment.

Also, having downloaded many good books and texts from Scribd I wanted to give something back, in this case it just happens to be something I wrote myself.


Alright, I am setting up this blog to have a place to post links which I find of interest, both specifically in regards to baking, but also more generally in terms of food supply, politics, finance and so forth. Discussion is welcome though to be honest I am more interested in keeping this mainly local, i.e. people in the Maritimes and more specifically on Cape Breton Island, but we’ll see how it goes….