The Great Food War

Colin Austin © 13th June 2024 This document is published under the Creative Commons system which means that it can be copied and republished without further permissions but the author Colin Austin @ must be recognised.

Who will win the Great Food War?

Will the power of mega-corporations that control our food system reign supreme leaving the community fat and sick and destroying civilisation as we know it as the supply of essential minerals is exhausted or will the community rise up and unite so common sense prevails?

Let me start with the story of the mouse and the elephant.

The mouse

I sat down to eat my breakfast, a bowl of muesli and there was a cute little mouse on the table watching me. Actually, a virtual mouse rather than a real mouse, but still cute.

I am very fond of this little mouse, it is what I do, working out how to grow food that will make us healthy. That is a bit different to knowing what food will make us healthy. Take that wonder vegetable that some people swoon over, Kale.

Kale can actually be what the trendies call a super-food but if you don’t grow it the right way in the right soil it is pretty useless.

The selfish gene

Richard DawkinsI know from Richard Dawkins and The Selfish Gene that I, like everyone else want to keep our human Genes going long after we die and that needs males and females doing what they do – a bit of the good old hanky-panky.

Females have a problem with lack of iron but they can’t just go down to the local scrap yard and start munching on a wrecked car, apart from breaking their teeth that iron is not what we like to call bio-available which means it can get into her bloodstream.

kaleNow that is my day job, finding some microscopic bugs which can convert the iron in a wrecked car to make it bio-available so it can go into a plant which she can eat, or maybe an animal that she can eat, so she gets a good dose of iron into her blood.

Males have a different problem, zinc. One good night of hanky-panky and there goes his supply of zinc. Again no use munching into a pile of zinc-coated roofing sheets, instead find some rock that contains zinc and the appropriate bugs, create some soil with bio-available zinc, grow some plants and bingo he is ready for another night of hanky-panky.

All good fun and I am really quite happy messing around with what some people may think is just yukky soil full of rotting stuff to feed a few bugs and grow healthy food and telling people stories about what I learn.

The elephant

But then I went to go outside and there was this huge elephant, a really big one that was just too big to come inside so could not be the elephant in the room but is seemed quite happy to be the elephant just outside the room.

It has a big label on its trunk saying ‘Modern food system’.

Anyone with experience with elephants knows they are vegetarian which means they shit a lot, big steamy piles, so I was concerned that this elephant, although virtual, might still dump piles of shit in my patio.

And my fears were justified which is the point of this story.

Just in case you think I am making this all up just to spin a yarn can I recommend a couple of really good books.

Eating the Earth by Justyn Walsh

Food for Life The New Science of Eating Well by Tim Spector


What a magnificent creature!

Of course, the elephant is just an avatar for our food system but what a magnificent creature.

Let us look at it in reality.

We can go to the supermarket which is stacked high with foods from all over the world.

It may be a national pass time moaning about the cost of living, but that is because the increase in wealth from our ever-developing technologies goes into the pockets of a few ultra-rich people.

Compared with times past food is incredibly cheap and is a much smaller fraction of our weekly budget than not so long ago.

Households now spend only around a tenth of their disposable income on food compared to a third before 1950.

Food needs to be cheap or else we would not be able to afford tickets to the world’s favourite billionaire songstress, Taylor Swift. Let’s get our priorities right (or wrong).

But are we on the edge of a Titanic moment, nothing can go wrong until it does.

People who predict disaster with our food system do not have a good record.

Malthus the one-time predictor of food disaster became the butt of jokes. Paul Ehrlich did not do much better. So it seems that the best way of predicting the future is just to wait until it happens.

But predictions would make a really good disaster film with millions of starving people, hungry and angry (they even invented a word for it hangry) crossing the globe causing mayhem and disaster.

We can say that that won’t happen with the same assurance that people said the Titanic was unsinkable.

So forget about predicting the future, it is too unpredictable, and instead, look at what is happening right now and look for the trends. A lot safer.

Overfed and undernourished

There is a very nice phrase, overfed and undernourished and if you want to see that in action just go to your local shopping centre and count the number of overweight people with wobbly bums and tums and the people in wheelchairs or hobbling about on crutches with a leg chopped off.

It is what the experts like to call an epidemic of chronic diseases but to me that does not seem a good term, these are not infectious diseases they are a condition.

You can’t cure being overweight but as sure anything is in this world you can change your diet and not be overweight. But not by eating less and exercising more, we have been trying that for decades and it has not worked so we try eating even less and exercising more and it still doesn’t work.

Reminds me of the story of the farmer who was training his donkey to eat less. He got it down to one bean a day when the darned animal died.

This is where the current paradigm on weight is just so wrong. The common paradigm is that we get fat and sick because we are little piggies and overeat and that is just not the way it works.

The man on the bridge

Our bodies are smart and detect there is a deficiency in our diet, either of beneficial microbes or critical nutrients. The captain, the man on the ships bridge bangs his bell shouting emergency, emergency store any food you can lay your paws on.

Then the man on the bridge bangs his bell again and tells the gut down below to make up some of those hormones that make us hungry and squirt them out into our bloodstream so we end up just craving food, then the other crewmen pick up all this food that is streaming in and poke it neatly away in our bums and tums so we end up looking like a circus doll.


The not-so-free market

The number of people who claim to be religious has dropped but there is one religion that is doing extremely well.

This religion says that the free market will solve all the world’s problems and we don’t have to do anything, the invisible hand of the free market will fix everything, just go out and spend money on whatever we fancy (and if we can’t afford it then just borrow).

That may have been a workable religion many years ago when people lived in villages with a Saturday market and the power of the buyers and sellers was balanced and there was a good range of both suppliers and customers and there was no internet to spread disinformation.

What actually happens

But that is not the way the modern food system works. The food industry is riddled with Neo-monopolies.

Let us just talk about what a Neo-monopoly actually is. Governments don’t like monopolies, they are so clearly bad that they get spurred into action and do something about it.

In nature species become extinct (it could happen to us). But nature is smart so a new creature may evolve which is pretty much the same as before but does not get killed off.

That is exactly how Neo-monopolies evolved. Instead of one single company becoming a genuine monopoly which would attract the attention of the Government a new system has evolved.

Several companies maybe with one or possibly two lead companies with a handful of followers so they escape the actions of the marauding Government out to kill off monopolies but this little group know the rules.

There is no need for clandestine meetings in dark parks after night or popping secret messages into holes in the wall like in spy films, just follow the well-understood but unpublished rules, and watch the money pour in.

Eating the Earth (a must read)

Let me give you a few quotes from Eating the Earth.

Volume, efficiency and profits, rather than the health or needs of the local population tend to be the drivers of the industrial food economy.

Industrialised agriculture favours quantity over quality.

The food Fordism of gigantic farms and processing plants has been complemented by increasing monopolisation at both ends of the agricultural supply chain.

At the pre-farmgate stage, 40% of the world’s commercial seed market, four companies account for more than 60% of global pesticide sales and just four corporations comprise a third of global nitrogen fertiliser production.

At the other end of the supply chain, the purchase of international bulk commodities is dominated by just four privately owned companies who together control around 90% of the global grain trade.

Big agriculture has defeated the competitive dynamics with a contrivance to raise prices while leveraging overwhelming bargaining power to drive down payments to the far more fragmented production sector, the actual farmers, squeezed in between.

Industrial agriculture’s high input, high output business model requires more fossil fuel-based fertilisers, pesticides and pumped water.

Thanks, Justyn Walsh for your revealing book

Sounds bad? Well, it is nothing compared to the damage done to the soils which are degenerating to little more than dirt to hold up the plants which are fed chemical input.

Whoops, I almost left out climate change. Sorry Greta. What a combination, climate change and destruction of our soils. Is there something wrong with our species that we have a death wish?

How is it that there are such amazing people like Zomi Frankcom, who worked for World Central Kitchen, risked her life, and was killed, trying to get food to starving people in Gaza, yet we have such atrocities as the deception in the Tobacco industry, copied by the oil and food industries.

Woke green nutter

The executives at these mega food companies, on their multi-million dollars-a-year salaries, and whose decision lead to 8 million people a year having a limb amputated from diabetes are regarded as pillars of the community.

Why are we so fixated with money? It is obvious that on a finite planet, we cannot continue to grow at an exponential rate and that at some point in time we must move from exploitation to recycling, a clever creature like us humans should be able to understand that simple message.

All these terrible things and people don’t even seem to care.

I care, I care about the life my two great-granddaughters will have, and all the terrible things I talk about that will happen in their lifetime, yet I get classified as a woke green nutter.

There have been times in my life when I have been poor and others rich. I have no delusions that being rich is more pleasant but money should not so dominate our thinking that we do things that make people fat, sick and have their legs chopped off from diabetes.

I can’t quite find the word, at least a polite word to describe that but there is no word for destroying the planet on which human life depends just for the sake of money.

What is wrong with us as a species, how are some people so dedicated to helping society while other seems intent on destroying us as a species? If you know the answer please email me


It keeps on getting worse

mineral deficiencyBut it gets worse, this reliance on chemicals results in food which is deficient in the beneficial microbes needed to replenish our gut biome and critical trace elements that are essential for our bodies but not essential for plants to grow into what looks like but isn’t healthy food.

The net result is the epidemic of non-infectious diseases which are here right now.

But what happens when we have used up all those minerals that power modern industrial agriculture? We only have some fifty years of phosphorous left.

Prediction is a dangerous business

If we don’t change from a society based on the exploitation of natural resources to one based on recycling then life is going to get real shitty, and I mean really shitty.

Malthus and Paul Ehrlich may have got their timing wrong but were spot on in predicting oncoming chaos.


Shit Happens

Human beings are weird creatures. We are the most successful creature on the planet yet, in war, we kill each other with gay abandon, but also in peace with food that is equally effective as an AK-47 in killing people.

Why do we do that?

The answer to that lies in another great book. Facts and Other lies, Welcome to the disinformation Age by Ed Coper.

Let me give you my version.

Human beings are not physically well equipped for life in the wild, being a bit challenged in the claw, teeth and beak departments.

True an adult human can survive in the wild for several episodes of Alone, cheered on by a television crew with a backup helicopter and support vehicles.

Species survive by breeding

But that is not really survival, for the species to survive we have to be able to breed.

The hanky-panky part of breeding we do incredibly well, any aircraft toilet, dark alley, back of the bike shed or if we are boring a bed will allow the job to be done.

But then 9 months later appears this totally useless baby whose only survival apparatus seems to be a good pair of lungs to attract attention and a powerful suck when mum wakes up.

But it takes a couple of decades before this baby can enter the Alone competition.

It takes a village to raise a child

African villageSo we have that nice African phrase ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ which neatly says that if we are to survive we need the support of a village, our tribe or group – we just have to belong to survive.

To belong we have to conform which means adopting the views or our group. This is really the essence of ‘Facts and other lies’ we think what our group thinks regardless of what the science of the real facts tell us.

If our group thinks that we should all go out and massacre the next tribe along because they have adopted a silly hairstyle or wear their headgear back to front we will happily go out and massacre them, and maybe even get a medal from our tribe.

Think for yourself

Thinking for yourself seems an incredibly difficult operation which is of course discouraged by our education system.

The kid who repeats the conventional wisdom is rewarded with an A while the kid who thinks for herself and gets it wrong gets punished with an F.

And the ‘Fact’ yes real fact, is that if you think for yourself the odds are that you will be wrong.


learning from failureFailure should be a curriculum item in our education system, first session every Wednesday. I don’t mean we should be teaching our kids to fail, but that failure is an integral part of life and we should learn to learn from failures.

I know this well from my day job of experimental growing of plants. My experiments rarely work – they fall into that category of ‘it seemed a good idea at the time’.

Now let me tell you the secret, as long as you don’t tell anyone. When an experiment fails, as is statistically probable, then just put it in the back of the shed and don’t tell anyone.

If you tell them about the failures they will think you are some dumb clot.

When something actually works, like my development of Wicking beds, then you tell the world and everyone thinks you are really smart.

Rubbish theory

fat and skinnyI experiment to find out how well food works, using my body. I was getting a bit of a tum so I thought I would try a calorie-reduced diet. It did not have much effect on my tum but I was thoroughly miserable and grumpy.

But when I caught sight of my face in a mirror and saw an intern from a World War Two concentration camp I decided the calorie theory was total rubbish and what really mattered was the quality not the quantity of food.

Am I right? Well for me yes, I am 84 and fit and healthy. But I am not your fairy god mother so try for yourself and find out. Life is on big experiment.

Eating a diet deficient in key elements, such as living microbes, and trace minerals just does not work so it is time to admit failure and try a new approach.

But when the experts are all saying reduce calories this is not so easy which is why we have this epidemic of chronic diseases.

We must learn from failures, failures are a necessary part of life.

Failures of societies

collapse of civilisationWithin any particular society, there is generally a feeling that this society cannot fail.

Yet the facts show otherwise. Just look at the history of civilisations. European societies think they were the pioneers of civilisation but for some reason I don’t understand, civilisations sprung up across the globe in Asia, India and the Americas at roughly the same time.

Some of these had a long history. Another really good book is Farmers of Forty Centuries which examined why civilisations in China, Korea and Japan had been stable for over four thousand years while so many other civilisations collapsed.

The picture is clear, the civilisations that had long-term survival were based on recycling their waste to provide nutrients in their soils.

The civilisations that failed did it in two stages. They degraded their soils (and sometimes water systems) which weakened their civilisations but did not lead to their final collapse. That happened when they were overrun by other military-aggressive nations.

Change what you are smoking

If you think that our modern-day civilisations, with the combination of climate change and degradation of our soils and water supply, are immune to collapse there are two possible explanations.

That general view among the majority of the people is that our civilisation is immune to collapse (despite history saying that no civilisation is immune) so we just follow along


What you are smoking is leading you to a state of delusion.

Failure of our modern civilisation is a real threat, we just don’t know when. But it is likely to be in the lifetime of my two great-granddaughters who have just joined us.


So what to do?

megacorporationsSo what can you and I do? And we must be realistic about what we can do.

Let’s face reality, you and I are powerless against the might of billion-dollar international companies.

We should be able to look to our Governments, after all, it is their job to protect the interests of the people. But again we have to face reality and their track record in taking on these mega corporations who can afford the very best public relations companies is not a story of success.

I, and probably you, have no access to our Minister for Health. At best I may get a ChatGPT generated letter saying how concerned the Government is about the end of civilised society. The wonders of AI, it should have been called GS genuine stupidity.

But these mega-corporations with a bag of gold in donations have an open door.

But we should at least expect our Government to run educational programs so people have ready information on how food works.

Information is power.

But that is not enough. We must recognise there is a war on.

Back to The Great Food War

food warsOn one side of the war is the mega-corporations. Large well resourced and ruthless for short-term profit and on the other side the community is placid, looking for a quiet life and a bit naive.

The mega-corporations are willing to use the power of the disinformation age to convince us their food is healthy for us when in reality it lacks critical components which make us fat and sick and run the risk of having a leg chopped off from diabetes.

But worse, it is destroying the planet on which we all depend, exploiting the finite natural resources which will eventually lead to the collapse of the food system and civilised society as we know it.

This is a war the community must win, but right now we are in the battle of the gut-brain which is the intelligent control system which regulates our bodies, particularly what and how much we eat.

This is a battle we must win or we will lose the war – but how?

There are eight billion warriors on our side and we have the ultimate weapon, the power of the wallet, (well lots of wallets) but we are disorganised and therefore ineffective.

A few gallant individuals will fight on, growing some of their own food and we need them, they are the commandos in this war paving the war for the bigger battle to follow.

gbiotal ettuceBut we need the full power of the community to win this battle.

That is what the Gbiota club is all about, it brings together the local growers, who have the capacity to grow gut-brain food with the community as a whole who have the numbers.

And how can it work? The growers can produce Wickimix, that magical growing medium teaming with beneficial life and critical nutrients which feed the plants which we eat to feed our gut.

They can supply this in boxes, as clean skins, ready for the more adventurous members of the community who want to take charge of growing some of their own food or they can supply boxes, with plants ready to be picked and eaten genuinely fresh before the beneficial microbes die.

You can learn more about the Gbiota technology at or you can join the Gbiota club at and meet up with like-minded people on a private secure self-managed social media site.



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