The Gbiota story

Paradigm shifts

weight watchersImagine you are at weight watchers annual conference and the first speaker get up and says you are fat and sick because you eat too much – so cut back on your calories.

That’s what they came to hear. There would be a polite round of applause and people would get back to munching on their chicken wings and chips and cheese cake.

That is the conventional paradigm – cut down on your calories and exercise more.

Then the next speaker get up and what the people hear is that they should eat more. They think he is a lunatic and throw the chicken wings and chip at him to drive him of the stage – the cheese cake is just too tasty to waste.

Actually what he said was that we have two brains and they decide whether we are the right weight or not, if we don’t feed them brain food they will send out signals to make us hungry so we eat more and get sick and fat – so feed your brains.

Now that is a paradigm shift and people don’t like shifting their paradigms.

Modern foods

Modern food Modern food, full of sugars, fats, salts and flavourings provides us with abundant energy, is tasty, cheap and convenient but lacks key minerals and biology. Our bodies sense this lack and create food cravings which is the primary reason for the current non-infectious health epidemic. Long term these are unsustainable, slowly destroying our soils.

regenerative farmer We know how to grow food with these essential minerals and biology and there are plenty of regenerative farmers willing to grow using these methods – but they need a market.

selling machineTwenty years ago the Internet was one of the greatest innovations but has now become little more that a selling machine riddled with dis-information so any information on the web is treated with scepticism. People are turning back – wanting contact with real people they trust.

On the internet this has led to influencers where the good ones study the serious literature and provide selected information for their followers.

What we need now is honest food influencers prepared to provide sound information to their followers and how to change our food system.

It is pretty simple – food is one of the most important factors in our health, the major cause of environmental damage and a significant factor in global warming.


The food industry

large food companies The food industry is the worlds largest industry dominated by mega and global corporations. They do spend a large amount of money on research, development and innovations but it is for the benefit of their profits and not the health of the population.

fat manWe need to change the system so the focus of new technology shifts from profits to the health of the population.

How do we do that? By the power of the wallet.

The power and danger of technology

technology Technology has changed the world, the internet, artificial intelligence, automation, the way we grow and distribute our food, medical science and more, has changed the way the world works.

As humans we need to learn not just to manage this change but to control it, the alternative is to become pets of the robots and humans that control this technology.

We learn to take control or we are controlled – a simple one – zero decision. This story is all about how people, like you and me, can take control for our and the communities, benefit.

The Moldflow era

MoldflowDon’t get me wrong, I am not anti technology, I was a pioneer in computer aided engineering. When I first experienced computers I could see they would totally change the way engineers would design products. I bought the second micro computer to be imported into Australia, mortgaging my house to one third its value and started to write code in my spare bedroom.

Engineers Australia 1The company I formed – Moldflow – grew to become the leading exporter of technical software from Australia and I became recognised as a world leader in this rather specialised field of computation fluid flow. I was selected by the Institute of Engineers as one of the top one hundred innovators in Australia.

But don’t think this was a wonderful life of success.

The company I formed – Moldflow – grew to become the leading exporter of technical software from Australia and I became recognised as a world leader in this rather specialised field of computation fluid flow. I was selected by the Institute of Engineers as one of the top one hundred innovators in Australia.

Engineers Australia 2I would travel around the world giving lectures on the computer simulation I had developed. Now lets be honest any competent mathematician could have developed the software, the basic maths was developed way back in Newtons time – they just didn’t have computers to do the grunt work.

But the simulation enabled me to better understand the mechanic of flow.

The paradigm at the time was that if you want to increase flow you simply make the flow channels bigger – so obvious and instinctive – right? But not always true, the bigger the flow channels the more volume to fill which could in some situations means that the solution was to make the flow channels smaller.

Kangaroos Sounds totally ridiculous and so the audience thought as they virtually booed me off the stage as some lunatic from the weird country where Kangaroos hop down the main street.

But things changed – but not because I developed some magic lecture techniques to convince the audience. A few people in the audience were having problems and having tried everything else decided that as all else had failed lets give this lunatics ideas a go.

Very entrepreneurial.

And they tried my software on their products and spent the money to make the revised moulds and much to their surprise and my relief it actually worked.

And they went to conferences and gave lectures on their successes and slowly but surely the tied turned and a new paradigm replaced the old paradigm.

And then my life changed and I began to be seen as a respected innovator and had enough money to pay the milkman.

But there was something wrong in my life.

Destroying the earth

Water shortages Fresh water is one of the most valuable commodities on earth – it is the basis of life – yet we were pumping out the aquifers which have accumulated over millennia to grow food to feed the ever increasing population.

Simultaneously we were destroying the soil and – despite what people may tell you about the power of hydroponics – we need real soil, full of nutrients and beneficial biology to grow food that will make us healthy. I talk about this in the many articles under food.

So at the age of 55 I sold the company which gave me enough money to experiment with better ways of growing food.

Innovation should benefit the community not just make profit

monkey throwing stoneThe future or humanity lies in being able to innovate as conditions change. Humans are the most successful creature on earth for two simple reasons – we innovate and cooperate.

Ever since a group of humans picked up stones to throw at the threatening ferocious beasts we have been innovating and cooperating.

I believe that innovation should work for the benefit of society and not just a handful people and companies who control the technology.

Managing technology

anthropoceneUntil recently, modern innovation and technology has been based on the classic economic thinking with profit being the driving motivator – the net result is the accumulation of incredible wealth for a handful of people and mega corporations. The resultant inequality may be a social irritant – but there is a more dominating factor.

We are now in the Anthropocene – humans are having a major impact on the earth – even to the point of threatening our species.

We need to move on from this old model of technology to ensuring technology works for the benefit of the community as a whole.

The food industry and health

world foodFood is the worlds biggest industry, it spends large amounts of money on research to develop food which tastes better, is more convenient and is cheaper – so we buy more. Who can blame them for that – this is the rule of the game.

But it has led to the current epidemic of non infectious diseases caused by eating too much fatty, sugary and salty food which we love because it taste so good.

To date – the damage from harmful food has been offset by the medical success in fighting infectious diseases.

Covid indicates we may be at the end of that happy phase.

The wonder of an apple

apple treeEveryday people buy millions of apples from the supermarket. How many think about what a wonder it is.

Let me tell you the story of why that apple is such a marvel.

fire pumpApples grow on trees and here starts the wonder. How is the tree able to transport water and nutrients from the ground and into the apple.

A large tree will take up water at a rate equivalent to a fire pump – requiring a significant amount of energy. Where does this energy come from?

water tensionWater is extremely funny stuff. Each molecule has an incredibly strong attraction to other water molecules.

This means that it takes a lot of energy to turn liquid water molecules into a gas. Water has a high latent heat.

The sun does this by evaporation from the leaves but – because the water molecules have this enormous attraction for each other – as the water molecules evaporate they will literally pull (eg by tensile forces) water from the roots below. These tensile forces are so strong they can pull water up tens of metres in large trees. But that is just the start of the amazing bit.

osmosisHow does the water get into the roots? The final step into the roots is largely by osmosis as the concentration in the roots is higher than the surrounding area.

But to get to the surrounding area may involve wicking action, or evaporation and condensation onto more hydrophilic surface (water loving) or it may flow through the hyphae of local fungi.

More than water

exudeBut there is more than water to be transported, the plants need nutrients. Plants exude sugars from their roots to attract and feed soil biology which in turn supplies the plant with nutrients.

Different plants exude different sugars to attract different biology which in turn will have a preference for specific minerals. This is how we explain how some plants are high in one nutrient, say zinc while another is high in iron.

So each plant variety will be providing us with specific nutrients and minerals. But in addition to the minerals there is the biology which can enter the plant from the local soil or more interestingly the soil animals like worms which have guts like us.

Pre and pro biotics

shelf lifeThis is how plants become pre and pro biotics – providing us with the minerals and biology which make for a healthy gut and body.

If we want to improve our health we need to focus on researching and understanding how to improve this cycle.

This is very different to the research undertaken by the food industry which is focused on profits – so they are looking for increased production – and often longer shelf life which is an issue with the extended supermarket chain system which involves time delays from harvest to being bought from the shelves and eaten.

A rabble of researchers

soil degratationI am not sure what the plural of researchers is – a gaggle, mob, school but that sound too organised.

But the fact is across the globe there are serious researchers, innovators and just concerned citizens who are concerned about the way we produce our food.

Some focus on the effect of food on our health, others about the damage we are doing to our soils and water and yet more concerned about the impact we are having on the earth, whether it is harm to the forests, animals or climate change.

I am just one of this rather disorganised rabble but there is no doubt between us we have a deep understanding of the issues and more importantly what we need to do to solve the problems.

We may be a rabble but we all have that human characteristic of being innovative and cooperative. Being cooperative is more than just meaning working together – it means concern about the human species – now and in the future.

In my case I think about my grand kids, I have four – three girls and one boy. What am I doing to ensure they have a happy life – and what about their grand kids?

Having the technology is not enough

goldilocksTogether we have the technology of producing food in a sustainable way which will make us healthy.

I put in my two pennies from my expertise in fluid flow working out how to control the moisture level in the soil so it is what I call the Goldilocks moisture – not too wet and not too dry.

This is important to breed the biology which will end up in our gut forming part of the intelligent control system which manages our bodies and transforms the minerals into the complex chemicals which are essential for replacing our body parts as they wear and age.

Other researchers focus on the minerals and nutrients that we need to add to our soil so we end up eating food which will make use healthy.

Others focus on the biology in the soil and another group on the biology in our gut.

plantsOther focus on the enormous range of edible plants, thousands of species, which all have reputed health benefits.

Together we have this breadth of expertise on creating a food system which is both healthy and sustainable.

Even better there are numerous farmers who really understand the importance of regenerative farming and would love to become a central pillar in a new food system.

We have the technology so why is it not happening?

Innovation to commercialisation

The world if full of sound innovative ideas which never saw the light of day. Turning a sound idea into a commercial product or service is typically the most difficult step in the innovations process.

One obstacle is the power of the entrenched paradigm. In the food industry we obviously have the food industry itself but there are also the powerful interest of the drug and supplement industry and of course new ideas in the medical industry take time to become accepted.

Money is a powerful persuader

Many innovators are perfectly willing to devout their time, talents and energy purely for the benefit of society. But like other humans at some time they will die and if their ideas have not taken root their ideas will die with them.

While we all may respect the devotion of these dedicated innovators – at the end of the day any new food system must be economically viable and that means that there must be enough people willing to use the power of the wallet to support these new food system.

Persuading people to change their eating habits is one of the major challenges.

But with the power of the internet why should that be a problem?

The wonders and dangers of the Internet

EthiopiaLet me tell you a story. When I sold Moldflow and started to experiment with more effective ways of using water. I was invited to go to Ethiopia – which was then in the middle of a disastrous drought – to see if I could find ways of providing sustenance food in time of drought.


How Natural Wicking Beds work

oasisI have had a long time interest in ecology and evolution which gave me an idea. At that time I was thinking about oasis I had seen in the middle of the desert but I want to take some photos to show you – so I am going to use Baldwin Swamp just a hundred metres from my home here in Bundaberg.

It is interesting to contemplate how the swamp was formed. Maybe way back in time it was just a flat clay pan – like we can still see in various deserts. Rain water would be collected over a large area and flow to the lowest point bringing with it a mass of silt and dead plants.

This would build up over time leaving just small ponds with most of the area just rather a squelchy sponge.

The interesting feature is that the vegetation is green and verdant well away from the liquid water ponds.

How did the plants growing away from the swamp get there water?

It is really simple, the swamp has an underlying clay bed which is filled with river silt brought down in the floods.

Liquid water peculates along the base of this clay bed and then moisture wicks up to water the plants above – so simple.

That is the simple basis of the original Wicking Beds – collect the water over a wide area and concentrate this water underground and let the water wick up through hydrophilic water loving soil and dead vegetation mix.

BaldwinSwampWicking Beds are really  just a man made version of a process which has been in existence naturally for millions of years.

But the key point is they are remarkably effective providing the plants with a continuous supply of moisture through the damp soil so they are highly productive while minimising water loss by either seepage into the underlying ground or by evaporation from the surface.

We may be just imitating nature but they are still a remarkably effective way of growing food.

It was obvious that I needed to spread this information a far as I could and a this was the time of the birth of the Internet what a better way to spread the word. And what a learning experience.

The wonders and dangers of the Internet

Way back in 1995 when I was writing about Wicking beds the Internet was a totally different beast. To my mind one of the greatest innovations of all times giving access to some 5 billion people, almost the entire global population, to information which before would be locked away in the hollowed halls of learning.

The Wicking bed story simply went viral and is now widely used in virtually every country.

Sounds great – yes of no?

viralWicking Beds did not go viral from my rather puny single post, that was picked up by a few other people who made their multiple posts which in turn led to more multiple posts. And so the world learned about Wicking Beds – sounds great.

But there was a snag, every time a new person made their post they missed a bit of the original technology and added a bit of their own. Nothing wrong with people improving the technology – that is the way we make progress but unfortunately these people did not have expertise in how water moves through the soil so they introduced ideas which were not technically valid.

I tried to rectify this by writing articles like Stones and Stones Again on my original web site but this had minimal effect on rectifying the degradation of informantion.

I can well understand this – they has not gained the information from my web in the first place and probably had no idea that I even existed let along pioneered Wicking Beds and quite honestly just go to the library section on that web – there are just so many articles that I have written over the ages that you really have to be persistent to find things.

Wicking beds to Gbiota beds

gut biologyWicking beds were really about the more effective use of water – they were a way of storing water and slowly releasing it to the plants.

But since then a lot has happened particularly in our understanding of gut biology and the importance of feeding our guts that combination of nutrients and biology so they work the way our bodied used to work – before the advent of our modern food system.

My project has been to refine the Wicking bed concept to not only supply water but breed up the beneficial biology and supply the essential trace minerals and nutrients.

This to me seems a major technical advance which I would have expected to go even more viral then the original Wicking Bed story – but that is not the way the internet now works.

How the internet has changed

con manAs I have said I thought in the early days that the internet was one of the greatest invention of all times and was of major benefit to the human society.

Sad to say I have been forced to change my mind.

I can accept the fact that it has turned into a giant selling machine in which every action we take is monitored and then fed to advertisers who think that they may have found a gullible buyer.

I can almost live with that – but it is the lies and manipulation that infuriate me.

While I was writing this, totally at random and unsolicited I received an email for a product claiming to cure diabetes. I am attaching a link should you wish to review.

My wife is a qualified doctor and surgeon – she also became diabetic when she came to Australia and started to eat a modern diet. I would like to sit here and write exactly what I think of this promotion – but is would involve a lot of words beginning with F and Con so I am saying nothing

Watch here

The point is that I search the web regularly and have Google Alerts on topics like food, health, diabetes etc. That’s fine but the masters of the web watch everything I do which they pass onto people who want to sell me things I do – so I receive pages of such emails every day. If this were abnormal I would not be so vexed but this is a routine daily event – just (expletive) after (expletive).

They are very good at conning people. I just ordered an electric bike on the web – at $130 it sounded a bargain and looked genuine. I was conned – and I study how the web is used to manipulate people – and if I get conned what hope does the less experienced have. Just admit it they are very good at their job.

I simply don’t have the money, resources and skills to compete with all the manipulation that is happening on the web. Look at the video above – it may be BS but it is very well done BS I don’t have a chance of competing with the billions of dollars the food industry spends in trying to convince us that their food is healthy.

So I have to take a step backwards and rethink.

People power

What I see that in this digital age of manipulation there is a great desire among people to form real relationship with real people. I see this in the phenomena of influencers which is pretty startling.

I must admit largely pretty girls promoting things that will make less pretty girls look as pretty as the influencer but let us not get cynical – people want to form a genuine relationship with people they trust – so why not with food.

There are many people who are growing there own food who understand how food works and are decent honest people with relevant expertise.

Why cant we establish a network of food influencers?

In this age of cynicism, people will be looking for scientific evidence. In my article on manipulation I talk about just how difficult it is to prove that if you eat a healthy diet you are likely to both live and be healthier for longer (health and life span).

I talk about how companies sponsor research from reputable organisation which which generates data which create an impression which may be true in the specific conditions of the test but is not a general truth.

As I explain there is big difference between data points which may be valid and a general truth of scientific law. Read bout it here.

Give it to them – these manipulators are good at their job.

But there is one test anyone can do. It is easy to change our gut biology – if we change our diet the beneficial biology will simply out breed the harmful biology (that makes us fat and sick).

This only takes about three weeks and the results are clear – if it stops your food cravings it has worked and shortly after your body will tell you if it is healthier or not.

Of course people have different DNA’s and epigenetics (gene expression) vary from person to person so the results are not a foregone conclusion but sometimes it is time to stop talking and do the experiment.

That is what we want the food influencers to promote and help enable the experiments to access the right sort of food from motivated regenerative growers.

The Power of the Wallet

walletThe situation is really pretty simple. We have the technology of growing food that feeds our guts, there are plenty of farmers who really understand regenerative farming and would live to supply people healthy food on a regular basis.

There are many people who take a real interest in healthy food.

All we need to do is to persuade these people to become food influencers on the web so they generate a group of followers – then bring them into contact with the regenerative farmers so they buy healthy food to feed their brains on a regular basis and we have won.

Useful resources

On my web I talk about many things which are useful background reading for the potential food influencers. Here is a list and some useful links.

I talk a lot about growing food to improve our health, how we can baby greens in special beds, called Gbiota bed, full of nutrients and biology with a way of controlling moisture – you can access the many article in the growing section on my web

I talk a lot about food – how we need a type of food which we burn for energy, and another type to replace our body parts as they wear and age, and how need yet another type of food to feed our guts.

I talk a lot about our gut – how it send out signals telling us whether we are full or not so we don’t overeat and get fat and sick, it manufactures a whole range of complex chemicals which are needed to replace our body parts as they age and it is an integral part of our immune system. These can be accessed in the food section.

I talk a lot about evolution and how we – as a creature – have two distinct features, we are a cooperative and intelligent which has enabled us to become the dominant creature on earth.

I talk about the Anthropocene, how humans are so dramatically changing the earth.

I need to talk about all these topics to get to the real point – how we need to change our food system so we are healthy and our grand kids and their grand kids are equally healthy.

And the answer is surprisingly simple, setting up a food system where local growers supply food which is grown in Gbiota beds and harvested and eaten while genuinely fresh.

Next Read making-soil

 Implementing the Gbiota project actionplan8june21 

 Community Supported Agriculture and coops csa11june21

The battle of the bugs battle

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