On the Hadza and Human Metabolism - Herman Pontzer

Photo credit: Herman Pontzer,  Human Evolution and Energetics Lab  at Duke University

Photo credit: Herman Pontzer, Human Evolution and Energetics Lab at Duke University

The world today is this weird zoo that we’ve built for ourselves. It’s completely divorced from the way that we evolved, and from the lifestyles that our bodies are built for.
— Herman Pontzer

I am so excited to bring you this interview with one of my favorite guests to date: Herman Pontzer, a biological anthropologist at Duke University whose paleontological and biological field work across Eurasia and Africa have upended much of what we in the modern world thought we knew about diet, exercise, metabolism and human health.

Here, Herman reveals what it’s like to live and work with the Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania, the paradox of calorie expenditure (hint: you can’t burn off that Shake Shack), and why we as humans must move to survive. (Don’t miss his brilliantly written recent feature for Scientific American, along with this episode!)

here’s the run-down:

  • Growing up in the woods of Pennsylvania and finding his evolutionary calling in college

  • A day in the life of a Hadza hunter-gatherer

  • Why everything we thought we knew about human energy expenditure is wrong

  • The connection between sedentary lifestyles, inflammation and our modern-day epidemic of chronic disease

  • Misinterpretation of scientific studies in the media

  • How humans evolved to require high levels of physical activity

  • Evolutionary mismatch

  • What does the future hold for the human species?

  • How to live a more evolutionarily aligned life

Check out Herman’s work at his Human Evolution and Energetics Lab at Duke University. Read more of his writing in Scientific American and The New York Times. You can also follow him on Twitter.

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan.

RESOURCES

360 Live: Herman Pontzer Ends Up in the Hot Seat

A Homestead Built on Faith - Kip Smyth

The Smyth family of YouTube’s  1000’s of Roots  channel: Kip, Carrie, Caleb, Joshua, Nathan, Esther, Joseph, and Naomi Smyth. Photo credit:  1000’s of Roots .

The Smyth family of YouTube’s 1000’s of Roots channel: Kip, Carrie, Caleb, Joshua, Nathan, Esther, Joseph, and Naomi Smyth. Photo credit: 1000’s of Roots.

I was asking the question, Why am I alive? Because the decisions I had made and the things I had done, I should be dead. But I was still alive. And when I asked that question—Why am I still alive?—I had a picture in my mind: I saw myself walking down a desert path with a bright light shining on me, and I was wearing a white robe...
— Kip Smyth

Happy New Year! I’m coming back to you from winter hiatus later than anticipated, due to an extended illness and the now-historic teacher’s strike here in Los Angeles. During that time (which also saw LA pounded by torrential rains and floods), my daughters and I holed up at home and often lived vicariously through the videos of my guest today: homesteader Kip Smyth of the 1000’s of Roots YouTube channel. Via twice-weekly vlogs, Kip, his wife Carrie and their six children—ages 15 years to 19 months—document their permaculture-homesteading and homeschooling adventures living on a 500-square-foot off-grid home set on 20 acres in the Missouri Ozarks. 

The Smyth family’s stripped-down way of life is deeply rooted in their Christian faith; and yet, as Kip reveals in this interview, this was an existence he never could have imagined growing up as a self-described “jock” in a secular family in suburban Los Angeles. Here, we talk about consumerism overload, his calling to Christianity, homesteading from scratch, and so much more. 

Show notes:

  • Kip’s troublemaker childhood in Thousand Oaks, CA

  • From the party scene to finding himself on his family’s land in Alaska: “That’s when crazy stuff started happening to me”

  • Becoming a Christian, Simpson University as a 25-year-old freshman, and meeting Carrie

  • Arizona, the housing bubble and discovering Joel Salatin

  • Working at Home Depot: “If consumerism is the problem, then I need to become a producer”

  • Back to Alaska, and a brief foray into hunting and fishing 

  • Strategic Relocation and why the Smyths chose Missouri

  • Primitive skills and the problem with the prepper mindset

  • Learning to homestead from scratch, building debt-free, and the long-term vision for 1000’s of Roots

  • Faith, their lifestyle as a calling, and Kip’s advice for other wannabe homesteading families

All photos:  1000’s of Roots

All photos: 1000’s of Roots

1000sofroots4_uncivilize.jpg
1000sofroots3_uncivilize.jpg
1000sofroots5_uncivilize.jpg

Watch the Smyth family’s journey on their YouTube channel: 1000’s of Roots. Read more about their life on the 1000’s of Roots blog. You can also support the family’s mission on Patreon.

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan.

The Birth of an Explorer - Alegra Ally

Photo:  Alegra Ally ,  Wild Born Project . From “ Women at the End of the Land ” expedition to the Yamal Peninsula.

Photo: Alegra Ally, Wild Born Project. From “Women at the End of the Land” expedition to the Yamal Peninsula.

I would sit in a classroom and I would daydream about me just going and disappearing in a jungle and living with a tribe....These are the most memorable moments of my childhood.
— Alegra Ally

This week, I bring you this much anticipated conversation with ethnographer and award-winning photographer and explorer Alegra Ally. Via her Wild Born Project, Alegra has traveled to the far-flung corners of the globe to document the traditional ecological knowledge of indigenous motherhood—from pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding to rite-of-passage rituals for young girls.

This year, Alegra became a new mother herself. She spoke to me from her native Israel, where she and her husband (free diver and photographer Erez Beatus) were enjoying time with family before embarking with their baby son on their next adventure. For Alegra, the drive to explore seems inborn; here, she shares the remarkable story of her first solo expedition to Papua New Guinea at the age of 17, the near improbable logistics of photographing remote tribal birth, and the “superhuman” power she’s found in the wake of new motherhood.

Here’s the run-down:

  • Traveling to Tonga as a new mother

  • Alegra’s own experience of birth

  • Working as a diving instructor, early travels and how she met Erez

  • Her childhood in Israel, and “planning” her first expedition at age 11

  • Her first solo expedition to Papua New Guinea at age 17

  • The spiritual and intuitive search that led her to Wild Born

  • How she documents indigenous motherhood: the logistics

  • Her forthcoming book, her new nonprofit, and what’s next for Alegra and Wild Born

Photo:  Alegra Ally

Learn more about Alegra (and see her amazing photographs) on her personal and Wild Born Project websites. And don’t miss her must-follow Instagram accounts: @alegraally and @wildbornproject.

Photo:  Alegra Ally ,  Wild Born Project . From “ Women at the End of the Land ” expedition to the Yamal Peninsula.

Photo: Alegra Ally, Wild Born Project. From “Women at the End of the Land” expedition to the Yamal Peninsula.

Photo:  Alegra Ally ,  Wild Born Project . From “ Walking with the Himba ” expedition to Namibia.

Photo: Alegra Ally, Wild Born Project. From “Walking with the Himba” expedition to Namibia.

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan.

A Year of Autonomous Eating - Rob Greenfield

Photo: Rob Greenfield via  RobGreenfield.tv

Photo: Rob Greenfield via RobGreenfield.tv

People have a hard time wrapping their head around the idea of growing and foraging 100 percent of my food…There are zero exceptions: my salt; my oil; no grocery stores; no restaurants; no taking a nibble at a party; no gifts of food from others; no going to someone else’s garden and eating from their garden; literally growing and foraging 100 percent of the food.
— Rob Greenfield

This week’s guest is adventurer and environmental activist Rob Greenfield, whose societal-boundary-pushing projects have ranged from biking across the United States on a bamboo bicycle for sustainability (three times); to dumpster diving in thousands of grocery store dumpsters to raise awareness about food waste and hunger; to wearing 30 days’ of trash to create a visual of how much trash one American creates. Here, we focus on Rob’s latest extreme endeavor: Growing and foraging 100 percent of his food for One. Entire. Year.

From his 100-square-foot tiny home in Orlando, Florida (hand-built from 99 percent salvaged materials, natch), Rob shares the eating hows and whats of his aptly named Food Freedom project (think harvested salt and golf-course-foraged giant yams; oh, he also grows his own toilet paper). But with no shortage of self-reflection, Rob also digs deeper: into his own impoverished upbringing, the unintended consequences of living with no car or bank account or bills, and finding his true purpose in a life both inside and outside industrial capitalist society. 

Some of what we talk about:

  • What’s behind all the 1s: The launch of Food Freedom on 11/11 and Rob’s 111 possessions

  • The plan to grow and forage 100 percent of his food for one year; building his 100-square-foot tiny house in Orlando (and why Orlando?)

  • Staple crops, salt from scratch and the 160-pound yam 

  • How to make coconut oil; North America’s yerba mate

  • The 11 months of prep that went into the project 

  • Rob’s philosophy on foraging and pesticides

  • A sampling of the 300-500 foods Rob will be eating for the next 12 months 

  • Taking inspiration from subsistence cultures  

  • The paradox of Rob’s impoverished childhood: “We were consumers. My mom was a consumer; I was a consumer.” 

  • His awakening to “not living a delusional life”

  • What it’s like to live with no credit cards, no bank account, no driver’s license, no car, no bills and no taxes 

  • Consumerism and mortality 

  • Rob’s vision for the future 

You can follow Rob’s year of Food Freedom on his website, along with on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan.

Resources from the show:

Orlando Permaculture
Berkey water filter
Rob’s post: On Health Insurance, Age and Death
Rob’s post: My Net Worth Is
Rob’s TED talk: Be the Change in a Messed Up World

The Woman and the Little Cabin That Could - Ayana Young

Photo: Ayana Young,  For the Wild

Photo: Ayana Young, For the Wild

If there’s nowhere to hide, then it allowed me to stand where I love, and fight like hell for that place. For me, the temperate rainforest was what called me…This whole ecosystem called me back and said: ‘Now that you’re over your own little life, you will work for us.’ And I said, ‘OK, put me to work. What do you need me to do?’
— Ayana Young

In her mid-20s and a few years past her ecology studies at Columbia University, Ayana Young’s life had the makings of an off-the-grid fantasy. She lived with her partner in a cabin on an organic farm on an Oregon mountaintop. She studied herbalism. Then, Fukashima happened. The two, no longer feeling safe, set off on a journey to find “the promised land”—that untainted wilderness where they could live out their days sheltered from the toxic threats of industrialized civilization. Instead, Ayana found herself awakened to the harsh reality of her anarcho-survivalist quest: that it had clouded her true calling of working in service of something greater than herself.

This week, I speak with Ayana about that remarkable journey and the “something greater” that resulted: her creation of the trailblazing For the Wild collective—which now encompasses the 1 Million Redwoods reforestation project, For the Wild podcast, and a new spinoff series birthed from a preservation campaign around the Tongass National Forest. (She helms this all from yes, her handbuilt cabin in the coastal redwood mountain range of Northern California.)

some of what we talk about:

  • The making of “the little cabin that could”

  • “So lost and damn naïve when I started this endeavor”

  • Ayana’s upbringing in suburban Southern California

  • Living in an 1800s farmhouse in Pennsylvania and the birth of the For the Wild podcast (then Unlearn and Rewild)

  • The cedar cabin in Oregon, the journey to New Zealand and the awakening to the Anthropocene

  • The inevitable consumerist existence of cities

  • Human supremacy

  • The Bill McKibben question and “What are we really trying to save here?”

  • The 1 Million Redwoods Project, biomimetic reforestation and learning how to have a reciprocal relationship with nature

  • The off-the-grid fantasy versus Ayana’s life now

  • “We don’t have the time to be arguing about small things anymore”

Follow Ayana and her mission at For the Wild, where you can learn about the 1 Million Redwoods Project, subscribe to the For the Wild podcast, learn about her new spinoff series, sign up for her newsletter and make a nonprofit donation. She’s also on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan.

The Biophilic Nature of Serenbe - Steve Nygren

Photo credit: Jennifer Grayson

Photo credit: Jennifer Grayson

We have come into such an intellectual society that we have forgotten the miracle of where we live. And the miracle of our own being.
— Steve Nygren

In this first episode of our second season, I interview Steve Nygren, the founder of Serenbe—a microcosmic urban utopia set on 65,000 acres of preserved forest land, a mere 40 minutes south of Atlanta’s expanding sprawl. Yet to paint Serenbe as the latest picture of the New Urbanist movement (or as a green community, or a nature community, or an “agrihood,” as it’s been called in reference to the 25-acre organic farm the town is centered around) wouldn’t do it justice, as my family and I discovered when we called Serenbe home for two months this past summer.

Here, during an epic walk in the woods, Steve and I delve into the biophilic theory underpinning Serenbe’s design—along with the journey that took him from “having it all” in Ansley Park as a successful restaurateur to a life of deep nature connection for his family and Serenbe’s burgeoning community.

Show notes:

  • Serenbe’s origin story

  • Steve’s farming roots in Boulder, CO

  • Richard Louv and Last Child in the Woods

  • Why 68 percent of people don’t like where they live

  • “We have removed what I think are the two most important things for a vital life: and that’s connection to nature, and connection to each other”

  • The New Urbanist movement and inspiration from the English countryside

  • Preservation, development, and a model for balanced growth

  • The elephant in the room: affordable housing 

  • The problem with “intentional” communities 

  • The biophilic community, the awakening of intuition and Serenbe’s sacred geometry

Learn more about Serenbe (or maybe even plan a visit) on the Serenbe website, events page and Life at Serenbe blog. You can also check out Serenbe on Twitter and Instagram.

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan.

The Everwild Way - Amanda Caloia and Elizabeth Wells

From bottom, left: Amanda Caloia and Elizabeth Wells of  EverWild . Photos:  Emily Hart Roth .

From bottom, left: Amanda Caloia and Elizabeth Wells of EverWild. Photos: Emily Hart Roth.

Society expects us to go down one path. And then if it doesn’t feel right or it doesn’t feel good, often we don’t know that there [are] other resources available.
— Elizabeth Wells
I think the biggest question that you could ask, and that [the Everwild kids] ask constantly, is: ‘I wonder…’
— Amanda Caloia

Our Season 1 finale is here! I can't imagine a more fitting close to our six-month journey than this interview with Amanda Caloia and Elizabeth Wells, two of the co-founders of EverWild—a Los Angeles-based community that connects city-dwellers to the wild through family adventures, conservancy projects, and a pioneering nature-immersion homeschooling program.  

Amanda's and Elizabeth's journeys to create EverWild (along with Rebecca Chou, not featured in this episode) mirror so much of what we’ve been searching for on this show: a connection to nature, yes; but also a connection to true, human community. After all, the wild places we made our home in our ancient human past wouldn’t have been survivable without the tribe that surrounded us. As I’ve come to recognize over these past 22 episodes, we’re hardwired to be in the fold. While the loss of nature is palpable, community is that unnamable thing we’re grasping for in an increasingly virtualized and individualized world. 

In my LA backyard (over foraged yerba santa tea, homemade pumpkin bread, and a smattering of airplane and mower noise), Amanda and Elizabeth and I chatted it up about the quest for the "perfect" place to live, surfing and skating (Amanda is a Longboard Girls Crew USA skater), homeschooling in the wild, and how they ultimately found “the EverWild way” of life. 

Thank you all for your incredible support this first season! I wish you lots of time to “uncivilize” in your own life until I'm back again this fall.   

Here’s what we talk about: 

  • Surfing, snowboarding and searching for the “perfect” place to live

  • How Amanda and Elizabeth balance living in the city with their need to be near nature

  • Elizabeth’s background: from Cape Town, South Africa to Santa Monica

  • Bee and wasp attacks

  • Navigating risk in Everwild’s classes and “bloops”

  • Why kids need to learn according to their internal clock

  • Amanda’s aha moment about outdoor education

  • Homeschooling, unschooling, LA Nature Kids, and the creation of EverWild

  • Elizabeth: “Like all of these choices we make, [EverWild] is a way of life.”

  • Child-led learning and David Sobel

  • A surprise guest co-host and a day in the life at EverWild

Want to learn more about the EverWild way? Check out EverWild’s programs and upcoming happenings on the EverWild website, where you can sign up for a free trial day for the homeschooling program. You can also follow their adventures on Facebookand Instagram. (And don’t miss Amanda’s personal IG page for some rad skating/surfing/snowboarding pics: @pandaskate.)

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan. Want to chime in on this episode or have an idea for a future show? Connect with me via my Instagram page, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Resources: 

Inspire Charter School
Kiss the Ground
Hahamongna Watershed Park
Backbone Trail
LA Nature Kids
Pam Laricchica's Exploring Unschooling podcast 
Red Rock Canyon State Park

The Astonishing American History of Cesarean Section - Jacqueline H. Wolf

Top right, of Jacqueline H. Wolf: Photo credit Joel Prince. Bottom right: Illustration via Wikimedia Commons.

Top right, of Jacqueline H. Wolf: Photo credit Joel Prince. Bottom right: Illustration via Wikimedia Commons.

How, in the modern era, can we perceive so many human births as running into trouble that we have to perform major abdominal surgery in order to make that birth happen?
— Jacqueline H. Wolf

In 19th-century America, cesarean section was a treacherous, last-ditch surgery that nearly always resulted in death of the infant and, half the time, the mother. Fast forward to today, where 1 in 3 American babies is delivered via surgical birth. But even until the 1960s, cesarean section was virtually unknown to the American public, says my guest today, historian Jacqueline H. Wolf, the author of the riveting new book Cesarean Section: An American History of Risk, Technology, and Consequence. The book, which will be published this May by Johns Hopkins University Press, was funded by a three-year-grant from the National Institutes of Health. In it, Professor Wolf unfolds an astounding story: How, over the span of a mere century (and most rapidly, a few decades), industrialized America normalized surgery as the means of bringing babies into the world.

Some of you may recognize Jackie Wolf’s name from my book Unlatched (where she transported us to the death-by-artificial-infant-feeding epidemic of Industrial Age America). As a professor of the History of Medicine in the Department of Social Medicine at Ohio University, she is one of the foremost authorities on the history of breastfeeding and birth practices in the United States, having authored two prior books and numerous articles on the subjects in venues such as the American Journal of Public Health, Journal of Social History, and The Milbank Quarterly. I was captivated by my conversations with Jackie back then, and I hope you’ll be as captivated as I was by this one, here: From the story of the first cesarean in recorded American history, the myth of Julius Caesar and the racially charged past of early cesareans; to the rise of birth as a pathological process, Jackie Kennedy's role in all this, reclaiming birth in the 21st century (including how to avoid your own C-section) and more, you won’t want to miss this episode! 

Here's some of what we talked about:

  • Jackie’s work as a medical historian, and the path that led her to write Cesarean Section: An American History of Risk, Technology, and Consequence

  • Delving into the history of “thousands of accounts of birth” back to the 18th century

  • Cesarean sections in antiquity and the myth of Julius Caesar

  • “Sacrificial midwifery”

  • The astounding story of the very first recorded cesarean in US history

  • Cesarean sections and slavery

  • Vaginal birth of “a double monster” and the “highly unusual” circumstances of early cesareans

  • Historical birth as a social event

  • The truth about maternal mortality through the ages

  • The hospitalization of birth

  • John Wittridge Williams, Joseph DeLee, “prophylactic forceps,” and the rise of birth as a pathological process

  • Jackie Kennedy

  • How the electronic fetal monitor changed everything

  • The three major ways to avoid a cesarean section

  • Elective c-sections and our “don’t shame me” culture

  • Why labor is really really good for babies: the science

  • Jackie’s vision for the future

An American History of Risk, Technology, and Consequence will be released in May (pre-order here and below). Want to learn more about Jackie and her work? Check out her professor page at Ohio University. Jackie is also the host of the forthcoming WOUB (NPR) radio show "Lifespan." Check it out on iTunes here

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan. Want to chime in on this episode or have an idea for a future show? Connect with me via my Instagram page, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Jackie's books:

Resources

From     Cesarean Section: An American History of Risk, Technology, and Consequence     (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018). Credit Jacqueline H. Wolf and Kevin S. Wolf

From Cesarean Section: An American History of Risk, Technology, and Consequence (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018). Credit Jacqueline H. Wolf and Kevin S. Wolf

Emulating Our Wild Progenitors: A New Path - Arthur Haines

Arthur Haines Uncivilize.jpg
What are our evolutionary patterns versus how we are living now? Once you really start diving into that question, you learn that virtually everything we do stands in contradiction to what our bodies need for health. And not just our bodies…our emotion, our spirits…everything.
— Arthur Haines

We want to believe that we are living at the pinnacle of human existence; that since hominins first walked on two legs, man has been marching toward our vision of modern civilization. But what if despite humanity's vast achievements, we left behind a way of life that not only served our species better, but actually defined us as a species? So posits my guest today, Arthur Haines, the author of the transformative new book A New Path: To Transcend the Great Forgetting Through Incorporating Ancestral Practices Into Contemporary Living. The book, and today's conversation, is centered around a remarkable premise (first conceived with Daniel Vitalis): that modern-day humans have become a domesticated sub-species of Homo sapiens, our once-wild progenitors. Our divergence from our biologically normal way of life has not only de-evolved us, it is at the root of our current epidemic of ill health and environmental degradation.

But given that we can’t turn back the clock to live as indigenous hunter-gatherers, where do we go from here? Arthur has spent a lifetime ruminating on that question, as a botanist, taxonomist, forager and ancestral skills mentor who runs the Delta Institute of Natural History in Canton, ME. In A New Path, he offers revolutionary answers. Here, we talk about the book that's being called "the bible of the rewilding movement," and putting theory into practice with Wilder Waters, the neo-aboriginal community Arthur and his family are creating on 150 acres of protected forest in the woods of central Maine.

Here’s the rundown of our conversation:

  • The encyclopedic effort of A New Path

  • The lack of cancer in hunter-gatherer societies (i.e., intact lifeways)

  • Arthur’s childhood of fishing, hunting, tracking and mountaineering in Western Maine

  • Les Eastmen and the chance meeting that set Arthur on the path toward botany and taxonomy

  • Daniel Vitalis and the theory of modern humans as a domesticated subspecies

  • The bias against hunter-gatherers: “These were people who needed to be saved”

  • The myth of Steven Pinker’s myth of violence

  • The health of ancestral peoples vs. the health of people today

  • “We have bred the medicine out of food”: wild plants and phytochemicals

  • Raw water, hormesis, community, and a sneak peek at the book

  • “Our genes are still wild animals seeking immersion in nature”

  • Why it’s so hard to emulate historical community in the modern world

  • Learning an Eastern Abenaki language with his 4-year-old daughter

  • Wilder Waters – a neo-aboriginal community on 150 acres of forest in central Maine

  • Shared childcare and the challenges of learning how to live in an egalitarian community

  • What’s next for Arthur and Wilder Waters

Learn more about Arthur, his work and upcoming class offerings on his website, where you can order A New Path. (It's also available from you know where, but the previous link best supports Arthur's work.) Wilder Waters also has a website, along with a must-follow Instagram and Facebook page. Arthur's own Facebook page is here. And be sure to check out Wilder Waters' upcoming Dawnland Gathering, a 3-day/3-night primitive skills gathering in Turner, Maine. 

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan. Want to chime in on this episode or have an idea for a future show? Connect with me via my Instagram page, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Wild Beer and The Ale Apothecary - Paul Arney

One of the reasons that our beer tastes the way it does is because I made a commitment that had nothing to do with the end-result beer I was making; it had to do with…the ideals and the practices that I want to have.
— Paul Arney

Meet Paul Arney, the mad genius behind The Ale Apothecary, a wild-ferment brewery housed in a cabin in the woods of Bend, Oregon. Paul is a master brewer who honed his craft-beer chops for more than 15 years at Bend’s legendary Deschutes Brewery. Now, on his own land and with the magic of the microbial creatures and natural materials that inhabit it (think: black currants, tree parts and an ancient snow-melt aquifer), he has developed The Ale Apothecary into an idealistic, if not utopian endeavor: a hyper-local and sustainable brewery based on the past 10,000 years of our brewing history as humans. 

For the overwhelming majority of that history, the beer we drank was wild (sometimes called sour)—a much different animal than the crisp (or hoppy or malty) libation so many of us think of when we hear the word “beer” today.* As I learned in this eye-opening conversation with Paul, even many of today’s “craft” breweries are still part of an industrial system of beer-making that arose only a couple hundred years ago. Here, we delve not only into the fascinating history of beer and its industrialization, but Paul’s ultimate vision to reclaim community, autonomy and our place-based experience of taste by rewilding one of humanity’s first beloved beverages. 

*I owe my “discovery” of wild beer to my first taste of Ale Apothecary up in Bend, six years ago, and I’m never going back. I hope this conversation sparks your love for wild beer, too! 

Here's the run-down of our conversation:

  • The Ale Apothecary versus factory-style brewing

  • Paul’s brewing background and Deschutes Brewery

  • Beer as historical tie to our human history

  • Paul’s brew cabin in the woods: local malt, local hops, black currants and tree parts and the 11,000-year-old snow melt aquifer

  • The wild fermentation process that’s missing from modern-day brewing

  • The chemicals and waste impact of industrial brewing

  • What is wild beer?

  • Hops throughout history and Prohibition

  • “I tried to take this as far as I could”

  • The historical research that fueled his brewing

  • Paul’s vision for the future: small, localized breweries

  • The unpredictability of wild beer

  • The Ale Apothecary aging process, pine needles and Scandinavian farmhouse beers

  • How to find wild beer in your area

  • What’s next for Paul

Learn more about Paul and his wild beer on The Ale Apothecary website and blog. The brewery also has a great Instagram page: check it out.   

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan. Want to chime in on this episode or have an idea for a future show? Connect with me via my Instagram page, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Resources

Reinheitsgebot
Cantillon Brewery
The Coors Porcelain Company
Tavour