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Credit: Cassie Langstraat


Paul starts off by expressing his opinions on organic practices and what he calls invert organic labeling. He thinks that all foods that are NOT organic should be labeled so. If something has pesticides, he thinks it should say so.

He talks about his ideas regarding something he calls thewhole foods quality factor. Basically, his idea is to have a number scale in which products can be rated in a way that people could know just how organic something truly is.

Paul switches directions and tries to explain a bit more about his experiences with the podcasts and the struggles of getting traffic to his stuff. He talks about the online "gobbly-gook" and how young people own it. He mentions oasis design and how he doesn't just want his own stuff to do well, but he wants all of the good stuff do well. He wants to make the pod listeners aware of how much they can change the world with such simple efforts on the internet. If you just go out to the tinkering forum you can find out more about how to do this.

Next Paul gets into his ideas of saving energy with car convoys and semis as well. Switching mindsets, he moves into discussing the best way to do raised beds. He continues by jumping into fluorescent light bulb and how they can be advantageous in certain ways but he much prefers incandescent. Further, he talks about how he saved loads of money in regards to energy by eliminating the clothes dryer.

Moving right along, Paul finishes up by talking about the idea of a dry outhouse and different aspects of humanure.

Relevant Links

Paul's Article on CFL Light Bulbs

Invert Organic Thread at Permies

Polyculture Thread at Permies

Polyculture Thread at Permies

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Podcast 008 transcript
Reviewed by Cassie Rauk

This is Paul Wheaton, I'm gonna try a different thing. I am in route from the Seattle area back to Missoula. I'm right down in the middle of the big old deserty space on, in Washington State, the middle of Washington state. So, I don't have Jocelyn with me and I'm on my own. And I don't really like the idea of sitting here, talking to myself but I just have so many ideas rolling over my head and the podcast thing seems to be a way of try project some stuff. So I'm going to try and lay some things out.

One of the things that I've talked about on Permies before is the idea of how I believe that the organic labeling stuff that you currently find in grocery stores should be inverted. I think that's the good way to put it, that, and I just want to express my opinion on this and nothing will probably ever come of it. But I, it seems to me that there are so many people standing up and fighting one fight or another fight or whatever and I really kind of feel like, you know, wow that's a lot of effort going in what appears to me to be like a too small of a direction, or the wrong direction and I believe that the idea is that the organic.

Well, rather than having do we have a bunch of food labeled as organic, and by the way I should say that I really kind of think that industrial organic practices are, while they are in massive step up from industrial conventional practices that I really would like to see organic foods offered or food offer that is like ten steps beyond that so if you're going to conventional to organic that's one step, I'd like to see something offered that is ten steps beyond that and I'll try to remember to talk about that a little bit more here in a moment .

By inverting the organic labeling idea is the thing I think the way is rather than labeling foods as organic that all the food that does not currently qualify to be labeled organic needs to have a label on it expressing why.

I think that GMO food should be labeled as a you know contained genetically modified organisms and you know, that it has a pesticide used on it needs to have that it may contain residual pesticides. That sort of thing. And of course there's a whole world of different bits and bobs that would disqualify something being labeled as organic.

Along those lines, so like, that would be step one, something that would probably never happen. The good thing is that about four years ago, I wrote to the CEO of Whole Foods and proposed something and I never heard back. This is something, I only wrote it because I was encouraged by a half dozen people or so and they told me "maybe if you write to the CEO he will read, it he will get it he will respond and be that can of guy. So alright, I took the time I wrote a very detailed email that was, I tried very hard to be short and sweet and I never heard back.

However, I do think that this idea has merit and therefore worth repeating. The idea is that for Whole Foods, so for those who don't know, Whole Foods is a grocery store chain, where they have basically sent out certain standards. There are certain things that these things that Safeway would carry that they don't , they refuse to carry that certain ingredients' that they find unacceptable. And I have to applaud them for their efforts and saying that this one is a bit of a thing. And for those of you who refer to Whole Foods as Whole Paychecks, I wish to correct that.

I, as a person who, when I go grocery shopping I shop exclusively or almost exclusively, I think probably more than 90% of the food that I buy at a grocery store I buy organic. And I have to say that at Whole Foods when shopping there versus other places the prices are lower. Of course if you, I imagine of you know and buy food that's been laced with pesticides, genetically microorganisms or whatever, you could find that those prices are lower but when shopping for strictly organic food, I don't know, I find Whole Foods to be good.

So anyway, back to the email that I sent to the CEO. The thing that I said is that I would like the idea if Whole Foods could put a number on each product or even on the label that goes, look at the products, when you buy a product there's a little label there that tells you how much it costs so like, so you know they don't actually have to stick the label on to the product itself but there could be available on that label.

I'd like to have, I call it the Whole Foods quality factors. This is something where you know, Whole Foods of using the rulers and metrics and whatever metrics they've got for measuring quality that they even allow to sell in their store. That they somehow would use this discernment and express it on the foods that are sold there. And so, for example a whole foods quality factors of 10 would represent you know, an equivalency, an approximate of USDA organic.

So that would mean that if somebody were to provide foods to Whole Foods which Whole Foods deemed was you know better or you know, better in many ways than USDA organic but they didn't somehow qualify for USDA organic or whatever. They didn't want to play the USDA game or something you know, but Whole Foods went down and checked them out. Whole Foods came to a conclusion that yeah that stuff's good, they could give it a number 10.

And further there could be some outfits where that you know, okay you know what it takes 3 years for this land to get to the point where you're able to say that the stuff there's organic; and in the mean time they are practicing some awesome practices there in which case the whole foods quality factor might be like a 9 or an 8. In the mean time there are some things that whole food carries that are a step above conventional but along ways to go to organic and those could be labeled 3 or 4.

I think that by having a scale like this as supposed to having organic or it's not organic I think that this is, would drastically change the way farmers make their choices. So it's like wow, if I could get it to a 5 like right now my stock are a 4 if I could get it to a 5 I can get more money per pound for the stuff that comes off my place and I can, it opens me up to a bigger market as well. And whereas to make a leap from conventional to organic, they might get thinking it's a big leap and it's too expensive therefore we could stay to conventional .

I think that by having this scale it gives them to the point that they're moving towards that plus even. More I think that if there's food that are grown in a polyculture than you know, Whole Foods could come over and they okay, this food we'll rank it an 18 as supposed to a 10 and because it's an 18 it can fetch a higher premium price for people that believe in that kind of stuff.

I think that there's a lot of room in there for awesomeness and then plus you know, there could be, I really like the idea and I'm thinking that.. I mean there's so much more to consider for how to make for quality food that's above and beyond what we are able to comprehend today and a scale is an opening for that.

And by having an organization such as Whole Foods being a trusting factor that could be a big help. Now, you know I think that there are other stores that could do this. Or it's also possible that other stores could support Whole Foods and say, you know, we want to hear about which products and maybe Whole Foods could put it on there websites and other health groups source could say, okay Whole Foods went out and ranked this and they came back and they said that the quality factor is you know 11 so we're sticking that label on our stuff too.

And hopefully Whole Foods would be cool with that because it's like a, you know, it's another health food store, different health food store, I would like to think that Whole Foods would be supportive of that and letting it be something that could be openly used. We might even find that the products like some sort of product, makers some kind of crackers who got a 9 they might put that on the packaging and then it appears Safeway with a 9 on it.

That only, I mean that whole food has got advertising in a Safeway then I would like to think that this would be an idea that could work out really well. I've expanded on the idea a little bit more on Permies but for now that kind of gives you an idea of where I'm at.

On a totally different note I think this is a good time, where I want to express you know, why do I do the things that I do, I work at probably average 14 hours a day, maybe 15 hours a day cranking out videos and trying to participate in the forums and you know all kinds of stuff and I have to say. I used to work a corporate job and I did very well. I think I was a, I think I made to the top of the hill in what I used to do but I've left that behind and in a lot of ways there's still some remnants of my past life that I still actually participate in but for the most part I just feel so powerfully compelled to do what I do which is to try to express my position on a bunch of different things and effort to try to have less conflict and hopefully growth in what I believe to be a good direction of less toxicity and general over all planet wide health for human kind.

And I've been in this odd spot where it does seems like I really get through. I can't stop myself. I've got to, I've just got to do it and if Jocelyn where here now, she would probably keep me from saying this but I'm feeling a little frustrated with a some other folks that said, "Oh you know what, you can ignore getting word out about your stuff we'll take care about it you take that time and go to podcasts and it will get more to spread around."

And so I kind of did that I kind of said, "Okay, alright, I'm backing from that." And focused on making podcasts and a couple of them did that and a couple were true to their word and majority of them were not and so traffic to all of my stuff sell a lot. And so I'm trying to think okay how do I work this, I mean the podcast medium and now I'm set up for it but it's like, it's not like I can now go and basically the feed back that I get now is, "We want more and we like it being free and you just make more. Okay, Good. Glad we have this chat."

It's kind of like well, I don't think I can put more hours in a day to do more of this, I'm already at capacity and so I thought I was farmering it cause I kind of have the expression that there were several hundred people that were going to like take on different aspects to the work that I was doing and I wouldn't have to worry about it and instead it's turning to be more like a 6 or 7 people rather than several hundred.

So I'm kind of in a thought like well now what, do I drop the podcast? So I think what I'm gonna end up doing is be generating fewer videos and, but I'm not I was hoping to get to the point where I can put out a podcast, like maybe a anywhere from 2-5 podcast a week and I might be able to even put out more videos than I have been putting out before.

And I certainly collected enough footage for videos and Jocelyn has help put together a big list of different topics for podcasts on and different people to interview and things like. That but I think it's going to be you know, I'll put out fewer videos in order to make room for putting out you know 2-3 podcast a month, unless of course people do stand up and help on these things. I just can't help but think that I'm so powerfully compelled to do this stuff that I'm spending 14 hours a day doing it. I would just think that there'd would be people who would feel similarly. That they would also wanna play and I can share the knowledge of, you know, what I did, what I do and hand those chunks over.

And you know the 6 or 7 people that have been helping so far I think they're feeling a little alone and getting a little tired of the work, so they're getting a taste of what it is the boring part of the stuffs that I do the rest of the time. I like the idea of thinking that folks listening to my podcast will go to my fan page at Facebook and you just have to like that and then you know go and subscribe to my Twitter thing, @paulwheaton and most importantly come at to the tinkering form at Permies. And I don't know maybe once a month or once a week or whatever you know, step in and say what's the piece I can take on and make things better.

And of course this is assuming that there's people who think that the stuff that I'm cranking out is of some kind of value and does make a difference and it is different. I mean I know I've been subscribed and I don't knowhow I got subscribed but when I get these emails from different organizations that claim to be organic and claim to be green and claim to be all these stuff and I gotta tell you I think 90% of it is, is crap.

It's like you know, hey everybody let's get together and sign petitions and hey everybody let's get together and be angry at somebody you know and it's like you know, even the people they're being angry at it's like, you know what ,those people really didn't do anything wrong in my book. It's like, well they're symptom of the problem, they're not the problem and I would really prefer that if people are going to spend their time helping a cause get down to the, you know, spend your time some place where it's going to make a bigger more positive difference. I mean there's so many, so many different things that I think have been missed labeled like you know, the florescent light bulb is probably the biggest green washing scam I've ever seen in my life and people are just eating it up.

That person over in Portland who was writing in a column about being green when she finally figured it out she wrote in there about how the florescent light bulb is ain't everything we've been told and she got death threats and it's, you know, that's just wrong.

The florescent light bulb is a bad idea. I mean it's a there are places where it can be of value when it's used correctly. But anyway, this gets me started in a whole different podcast but the point is, is that there were clearly a bunch of people who felt that the best use of their time was to get all hateful and spiteful and angry at that woman. And in my book that woman was right and all that energy that people had about being nasty to her could have been so much better spent in some other direction and you know, let's find out who the bad guys really are and you know even more than that I got my own personal philosophy that I'm trying on I mean I falter at it all the time myself but I'm trying.

And that is the wanna not, I don't wanna take a baseball bat to the bad guys anymore, I wanna build good things and frankly you know in 2011 if you're gonna built with good things it's only about a hundred times easier to do it in the internet I mean you can pass the word. If there's something good, something that's really helpful that really makes a positive difference. In about a minute you can echo that to 50 people and in fact, you know what, if you're good and Reddit you can echo that to 5000 people in a minute.

Reddit is such an amazing site I, and here's there's another thing too, for all these online goobly goop man the teenagers has got it figured out which makes the mighty internet almost owned by the teenagers. so you see all these drivel on the internet and the folks interested in my stuff so often they come they look at it they say wow that's great they even send me an email saying man that is awesome, I really grooved on that and then they walk away.

Whereas the teenagers no, I gonna go put this up on Reddit. I'm gonna go and put this up on the Facebook, on the Twitter on all these different things and they're going to make a difference with that. So now you got your Green Bay Packers and you got your Paris Hilton and all of them. They are doing awesome over the internet, cause that's what the teeny boppers are into.

But then the folks that are into this kind of stuff they're more off and they'd consume, they'd just look and say. "Oh that was neat." And walk away and they won't take the steps to help it do better. And you know they don't even have to be my stuff. There's a lot of stuff out there. There's Art Ludwig he's got that oasis design page so much really good stuff there. Go give that a boost, you know, www.woof.org Go on out there, take a look give it the tumbs up, a put it up on Facebook put it you know, help it out.

There's a bunch of different resources that can be part of that aren't just mine. I wanna see all the stuff that's good do well and that stuff that's crazy I'd rather that it didn't do so well but what can I do. And so I kinda feel like you know what for the folks that are listening to this podcasts I really like the idea of making you aware of how you can change the world in a big positive way with hardly any effort.

Many hands will make light work and it doesn't take much and the teenagers know it and like changing the world for Paris Hilton, so if you got an idea on what matters then take the time to learn a little bit about how to do that and we're doing some of that at the tinkering form at Permies.com.

So I guess the episode today is gonna be a bit about my crazy ideas for inventions and what not. And one of the things that I thought of and I don't give a damn if anybody goes out and implements these ideas and becomes a millionaire that's just great.

So one of these ideas is that we're getting cars to the point that they got a GPS contraption built in and it doesn't take too much to be able to sense whether other cars are that have similar contraptions or maybe just a little sense that other cars are so when you're cruising down the freeway. Then I would think that it will be possible for the cars to that have similar sorts of computer systems on them to be able to do something where they connect to each other the cars become connected and once they're connected then there's far less wind resistance.

And so in which case I think that it's something where as cars go down the freeway then you might get 10 cars, all connected to each other and I would image that the savings and mileage would be tremendous would it be a factor of 6 or 7. That they would have in saving fuel and I would think that something like this could be started with semi-trucks. I imagine that you know because semi truck are very similarly shaped and have, and plus, like you know they spend so much time on the road it's something where, that's how they could operate.

Shipping by a train is cheaper than shipping by truck because truck more versatile and where it can go. And so it kinda seems like you know, have getting in an area where we wanna save fuel and cut back on fuel that to see like I don't know 10 or 15 semi trucks all connected to each other. And therefore in a way do a little bit more than drafting on each other and they're all working towards saving energy then the savings are passed from car to car I would think. And well, from truck to truck.

And that the savings could be tremendous. And then you know, cars I think it could be done too. It could be something like you know, basically you spend time travelling in a car and when a situation arises since there interlocked who, whatever car's in front the break of that car can control the breaks for all the cars for if there's some kind of emergency or something like that. And it could be a stepping stone to something more. I mean maybe cars that are capable of doing these sort of thing could have precedents on the highways over cars that don't I don't know.

It also seems like in order to be capable of doing this, there would need to be a way to be able to empty exhaust the safer way and, but it seems like theses things can be mitigated each of the downsides can be mitigated and this whole scenario could become possible.

A really quick and simple way for doing a raised bed garden at your home. Assuming that you have material work with this kind of soil-ish and that is, you know, it's kinda put some rocks around where you want raised beds to be just general raised bed gardening approach to make the raised beds 4feet wide. I like stuffs that's a little curvy, a little artsy curvy. A little bit more interesting than straight line. I also believe that if you do curvy then that helps to keep the wind out better for no matter what direction it's blowing in. But supposing for a moment that you're gonna go for the bare minimum of a raised bed and you're going to make them two feet tall, that's my idea of a bare minimum. I've seen people doing as short of 4 inches, and I have a hard time believing that 4 inches really does very much. But 2 feet tall and what you could do is: whatever your path is going to be then go ahead and dig down one foot and then you slap that one foot of material up on the raised bed where the raised bed's going to be. So now the area that used to be leveled with the ground is now raised bed is a foot higher than the old ground level and the part that you would walk is now a foot lower so you effectively have a raised bed that's two feet tall.

So I mean, as time passes you can start doing hugelkultur stuff or mulch it alot or build it higher or whatever but you know, just to get started, just for the bare minimum, this is fairly easy quick thing that you can do.

I spent a bit of time ranting against florescent light bulb and as part of that I just wanna you know, if folks wanna own a florescent light bulb more power to him. I think there's a time or place where they can be advantageous, it's just an exception. The rule should really be incandescent. But one of the things that I've tried to tell people, so this is what this whole segments about. Is that when you actually go out measuring the amount of power used for different things where there are places where you can and you know what, I should back us up a little bit to tell a quick little story about how I visited one of my oldest friend, David.

He has a place in Seattle. And there was this point in time where I was moving and I was farm-less and "You know what I wanna take this trip to Mexico. If you could watch my place for 4 months and live there for 4 months then you know I won't worry about it, and it won't cost you nothing. It will be great." You know okay fine, fine I need a wrap of a few loose ends there anyway so heading to Montana heading back to Montana.

Anyway he and I debate regularly about frugality especially when it comes to energy usage. And he was, in the Seattle area you get your power bill every two months and so the lowest he'd ever get his power bill was a hundred bucks it's like 50 bucks a month and it was actually over a hundred bucks he had never broken the hundred dollar mark.

And then I came to his place and I stayed there and so when he was away it was like a challenge. And when he got the first bill he called me up and said okay I think we need to talk we talked on the phone he called me up with Skype and he said that the bill was $30 that will be $15 a month. So I effectively cut the power bill usage by a factor of 4 and he, of course we had to talk about how did I do it what did I do things of that nature.

And, first of all and this is you know, going to sound like it won't work for most of you but I converted the light bulb regularly used from florescent to incandescent. So now the information that every body's been said has to go the opposite direction it will save energy and here is my strategy. I converted them to incandescent because I like the light that comes off incandescent better and when I'm not using the light I turn them off. It's just really that simple I mean the amount I believe that most people include David have their lights on quite awhile and I just turn them off really.

You know, I think that for a lot of people the amount of money that they spend on lighting is not that much but there are few people where the amount of lighting they use is huge. They will be running 30-40 light bulbs all at the same time and have them on day and night. And you know, I think there in is the big part of the issue, not that those people who are leaving their bulbs on 24/7. They will indeed benefit from switching to florescent, but they would benefit even more if they switch to incandescent and then turn the lights off when they're not using them. but that's another story for another day.

The key is what were the other things that I did for this particular chunk of the thing I wanna go into Is that it probably the same to savings it that when I would wash my clothes I would dry them on a drying rack. And I can't remember the exact math I came up with but it's like I don't know, I think maybe $10 a month or so I figured out saving while at David's. But of course I'm just one guy and I think I travel pretty light on laundry as it is. I suppose that other people with family of four they go through a lot of laundry. They probably have much more significant savings.

I mean, there's a variety of a things, that even in the florescent light bulb article at the bottom I tell the story and I go to lot of details about all the different ways that I think that I saved power. David focuses a lot on phantom load stuff. And so he wants to make sure that nothing's drawing a phantom load and so he goes to the trouble of putting it up some kind of a switch outlet or something that will be able to turn it off and make sure that there is no phantom load and I really don't pay no attention to any of that.

I think that the dryers a big energy suck. I think the hot water heater is a big energy suck. I think that you know, anything when your cooking consumes a lot of energy, that kind of stuff. All the heater consumes a lot. And if you're already turning off your light bulb or minimizing your usage cause for me it's like I, for most of the time when it was dark outside I would turn on 1 light bulb and one 40 watt light bulb. most of the time and then for a few times when I needed to I would you know, turn on the kitchen light for a minute.

Or even less as I use the kitchen and, or the bathroom light for you know a minute or less as I needed it and that was it. And I think that I calculated out that if I were switch over to florescent for one bulb the amount of energy savings per month would be like, I don't know, I think like a dime, 10 cents per month. And for the meantime the amount of money that I'm saving for not using the dryer just putting my stuff on the rack or a line to dry that was 10 bucks a month. So a hundred times more it was thinking about I think.

I can't remember if I made up this word or have I found it somewhere, it's been so long, but it's not exactly a word, it's a phrase "dry outhouse". So the idea, is that if you build an out house really well and you put a lot of smart-attude behind it I think it will be cleaner than your best septic system. And so I think it's certainly worth to consideration, especially out houses in a lot of places than outlawed and people are required to put in a $20,000 to $50,000 septic system instead of using out houses.And you know and we could talk a little bit about the work of Jenkins and the Humanure book.

I think Jenkins, my hats off to him. Jenkins deserves a pedestal. I'm you know, his work is quite good and at the same time I have concerns about many aspects of his work. I believe, and I'm not sure about this, but I believe that Art Ludwig has addressed a lot of his concerns. And I'm really hoping that someday I'll be able to interview Art maybe in podcast, maybe in video, maybe both but my impression is that Art separates out the urine which is important.

I mean basically from what little I know, that you've got in your poop you've got your pathogens and then in your urine you've got your pathogen food and I think it's wise to keep them separate. There'll be less odor if you keep them separate and that's one of the thing Jenkins like to mix the two together. Although Jenkins likes to go and dump to the compost pile, he outs in the middle of the compost pile so it cooks and then become safe.

And don't think that's good enough and on top of that he tries to advocate that people much fear over poop. Poop-phobia is a bad thing I disagree with that I think that there's a very good reason why people have poop- phobia and we should embrace that fear I mean we should, there's pathogens in there. There's stuff that once caused for concern and let's treat it with the respect that it deserves.

I think that we've got a big thread out of Permies called tree bog versus dry out house it explores a lot of this stuff it's definitely worth the read. And you know this is one of the things where I keep thinking I need to write an article much like my chicken article where, here's all of my factors. In fact somewhere I have a rough draft of the article sitting around. I need to finish it but, it has a massive chart of all the different factors that I think are the things to be concerned about or you know even just comfort and use and comparing you know the pocket style, the barrel style, you know the septic tank, with the flush toilet. And all that stuff.

You know all these different approaches and, but I need to take the time to fix that. But in the meantime the point I wanna make is that if you have a dry out house, which is basically and the out house where the water in the area it's kind of a built up on a very small hill; water and rain fall goes away from the out house and the out house has a large shed roof so basically the pit should remain exceptionally dry. And then inside there'll be good urine diversions stuff.

Now this brings something up during the conversation of that thread I learned a couple of things about female anatomy that I never knew. Two important things, one is that and this is the inverse, so despite the information that women never knew about guys and guys never knew about women. When women poop they can't stop the pee the pee just turns on you can't turn it off you have no control. Women might be shocked to learn that, "hey, we've got control. We can turn that off we can choose to poop and not pee. That's an option that's open to us."

The other thing is that when a guy pees there's that on and off and maybe some degrees of on and off and that's it. Women on the other hand have the ability to put some power behind it and turbo pee, power pee and that's something guys don't have this option couple of interesting tidbits. This came up because as were talking about a dry out house. Were like, "Yeah, just don't pee in it." Women are like "What do you mean? How do you do that it's like no way." There were a lot of issues that came up and things like comfort, but a lot of these different kinds of out houses even toilets have urine diverting mechanisms in them. So the urine can be managed separately which I think is awesome but that whole topic might be worth an entire podcast and hopefully I might be to line with something like that or have this chat with Art Ludwig.

Anyway that's it or this podcast. If you like these sort of thing, come on to the forums of Permies.com where we talk about innovation, homesteading and permaculture all the time.
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