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

The Freedom of Forest Kindergarten - Erin Kenny

Photos of  Cedarsong Nature School  reproduced with permission by  Erin Kenny

Photos of Cedarsong Nature School reproduced with permission by Erin Kenny

Children cannot bounce off the walls if we take away the walls.
— Erin Kenny

I am so excited to bring you this thought-provoking conversation with naturalist and educator Erin Kenny, an international leader in the forest kindergarten movement and the founder of Cedarsong Nature School -- the very first US kindergarten based on the German waldkindergarten model. If you haven’t yet heard of waldkindergarten (or forest kindergarten, for that matter), it is very much as it sounds: an entirely outdoors-based early childhood education program which, in Cedarsong's case, goes on rain, snow, or shine on five acres of magical native forest on Vashon Island, a ferry's ride from Seattle.

But forest kindergarten is also so much more: Here, Erin and I talk about the crisis of nature deprivation confronting today’s generation of children and parents; why this unique style of education is a compelling and desperately needed solution; and the remarkable learning that emerges from the deep nature immersion experienced at Cedarsong. Amazingly, forest kindergartens are only just taking off here in the US (despite having existed in Germany for more than half a century and where there are now more than 1,500 in existence), so if you're eager to join this burgeoning  movement as a parent or an educator, don't miss Erin and this eye-opening episode!  

Show notes:

  • Cedarsong Nature School: rain, snow or shine

  • Our modern-day indoors culture

  • The gear: How Cedarsong kids dress for school

  • Erin’s childhood spent outdoors in wild spaces

  • Today’s academic pressure, the stress and anxiety from transitions and overscheduling

  • The importance of unstructured, free play outdoors

  • “For millennia, the way young children learned was through direct connection with the natural world”

  • The domestication of our children via modern-day education

  • Fredrich Froebel and the history of forest schools

  • A day at Cedarsong Forest Kindergarten

  • Natural science lessons and place-based exploration

  • Compassion scaffolding

  • Forest kindergarten as “an early intervention program”

  • Where do the kids pee?

  • How to find a forest kindergarten

  • The Cedarsong Way forest school teacher training program

  • Advocating for forest schools at the legislative level, and what’s next for Erin

You can learn more about Cedarsong Nature School on the school’s website. Erin’s book Forest Kindergartens: The Cedarsong Way, documentary DVD and teacher training packet -- along with the schedule of her upcoming teacher trainings and speaking tours -- are available at ErinKenny.com. Cedarsong also has a wonderful Facebook page where you can check out photos and videos of the school in action. 

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!

 

Re-creating the Village - Rachel Natland and Chris Morasky

Top: Photos of Chris Morasky, Rachel Natland via  Wisdom Keepers . Bottom photo:  Elements Gathering .

Top: Photos of Chris Morasky, Rachel Natland via Wisdom Keepers. Bottom photo: Elements Gathering.

I had to go way off into the wilderness for a long time and really live apart from people before I realized that I actually do like people, and that I actually really love people—and that what I really don’t like is the way that people often treat each other. And that it’s because we have been born into a society which is so very strange and so very different from what is normal for our species, if we look at the long history of humanity.
— Chris Morasky
A lot of the things that happened to me as a child would not have happened to me if I was in a community that could have caught me.
— Rachel Natland

For 99 percent of our human history, we lived in small, likely egalitarian societies—tight-knit hunter-gatherer bands of a couple dozen people deeply reliant on their community and on the surrounding environment, for their survival. So where does that leave we present-day humans, now navigating an increasingly virtualized and individualized world amidst the dizzying urban constructs (not to mention vast social inequality) we call modern civilization? In a word: searching, to return to the fold of community and nature in which our species evolved for hundreds of thousands of years. 

My guests today, Chris Morasky and Rachel Natland, know that search well, and for decades pursued it on disparate paths: Chris, as a wildlife biologist who lived for more than 20 years in the wilderness and became one of the foremost Stone Age skills experts in North America; and Rachel, as a single mother who overcame her own inner-city childhood of abuse and addiction to become a spiritual mentor. Four years ago the rugged survivalist and the urban community-builder met, and the rest is history—and the future: Now a pair and living in Portland, they are restoring ancient egalitarian wisdom to the 21st century via their Wisdom Keepers school in Los Angeles and the Pacific Northwest. Hear their incredible life stories that brought them to this remarkable moment in time, their poignant vision for the future, and how they're re-creating the village with their don't-miss Elements Gathering in the ancient sequoias. Hope to see you there!

Here's the run-down of our conversation:

  • Planning their upcoming Elements Gathering: A week-long village experience in the ancient sequoias

  • How Rachel brought herself up out of the inner city and broke the cycle of abuse and addiction

  • Chris: “I believe that children choose their parents”

  • The disparate paths that brought Rachel and Chris to the world of rewilding

  • The epiphany moment that sent Chris on a 20+-year-long journey living in the wilderness and small communities of British Columbia, Idaho and Utah

  • How Chris navigates life intuitively, and tapping into “our instinctual connection to the perfect system of nature”

  • Why Chris left the wilderness for Los Angeles

  • Overcoming the illness of modern society, and how to get the most out of our lives

  • Rachel’s calling to the West, single motherhood, and classism

  • How Chris and Rachel met

  • Community, autonomy and rugged individualism

  • Why they left LA for Portland, and what comes next

  • Our egalitarian history, technology and exponential growth

  • Wisdom Keepers

  • Rewilding, space exploration, and Chris and Rachel’s thoughts on the future

You can learn more about Chris and Rachel, along with their current class and workshop offerings on the Wisdom Keepers website, as well as on Facebook. Want to go to Elements Gathering this year? Don't wait, tickets are going fast! (You can also check out the event virtually via the Elements Facebook page.) 

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!

Eating Unprocessed and the Path to Food Sovereignty - Megan Kimble

Photo of Megan Kimble, at left:  Steven Meckler . Top right: The celebratory (?) end to her year eating unprocessed. Bottom right: At the book release for   Unprocessed   in Tucson.

Photo of Megan Kimble, at left: Steven Meckler. Top right: The celebratory (?) end to her year eating unprocessed. Bottom right: At the book release for Unprocessed in Tucson.

At the beginning of my book, when I was trying to figure out where to draw the line—what makes food processed?—I stuck with this intuitive sense, which came from a line from Mr. Rogers...‘There is a difference between things people make, and things that are made.’
— Megan Kimble

Meet today’s guest, who might be called the Michael Pollan for the millenial generation: award-winning food writer Megan Kimble, now senior editor at Austin Monthly Magazine and the author of the book Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food. In this deep-dive journalistic memoir into her year-long journey of eating only whole, unprocessed foods, Megan set out to answer some seemingly straightforward questions: What does unprocessed mean in the modern world? Why does it matter? And how can we afford it in an age where time has become perhaps more precious than money? Yet the path to answer those questions proved anything but, sending Megan down the rabbit hole of our industrialized food system (spoiler alert: she learned to slaughter a sheep in the name of book research).

Now a few years down the road from her book journey and living in a new city (Austin, by way of Tucson), I was so excited to have the chance to check in with Megan to hear how she’s putting unprocessed into practice, as well as hear her long-term wisdom gleaned from a life devoted to urban food sovereignty. From food co-ops, equity crowd-funded breweries and tackling food insecurity to home mead-making, ancient bread-baking and respectful meat-eating in a modern society, this is a lively conversation you won’t want to miss! Enjoy!

Here's some of what we get into:

  • Megan’s recent move from Tucson to Austin, and the farm-to-table urban food scene

  • Shopping unprocessed in the city: CSAs and food co-ops

  • Falling down the rabbit hole of what it means to eat “unprocessed”

  • “The money we spend on food matters”

  • Ten Fifty-Five Brewing and the equity crowdfunding model

  • Making mead, bread and connecting to community

  • The problem with modern flour

  • Watermelon warehouses and food waste

  • Being raised by two scientists: Megan’s vegetarian childhood and growing up in a household where good food was a priority

  • Slaughtering sheep and meat-eating in a modern society

  • Food insecurity and cooking literacy

  • Megan’s vision for our food future

Learn more about Megan and her other writings on her website. You can also follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And as we do, Megan loves buying local: Click here to see if Unprocessed is available at your local bookstore. (For those of you in far-flung places, click on the book image below to order a copy from you-know-where.)

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!

 

Survivalists on Surviving a Natural Disaster - Carmen and Matt Corradino

You bring up the point of climate change and more expected hurricanes…but where could we possibly escape that? If the climate is changing and the earth is changing at the rate that we expect it to be changing, there’s nowhere that I could feel completely safe. So, I see it as: the survival training that we’ve done, the survival training that we teach, is our insurance policy.
— Matt Corradino

Today’s episode reads like it was lifted off the pages of a Hollywood screenplay: two renown survivalists find themselves in an all-too-real survival experience, after a natural disaster decimates their tropical island home. Yet that has been the past five months of reality for my guests Carmen and Matt Corradino, husband-and-wife survival skills instructors who live on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where they have been dealing with the devastating aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria. The category 5 storms, mere weeks apart in a slew of powerful storms churned up in the Atlantic this past fall, were two of the most intense hurricanes in recorded history

Though there may have been no one better prepared for such a “force of nature,” as Matt referred to the storms. Together, he and Carmen have nearly three decades of survival skills experience, including a five-year stint living in a primitive shelter while teaching at survivalist Tom Brown Jr.’s Tracker School in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. And for the past decade, the two have carved out a subsistence lifestyle in the tropical forests of St. Croix (now with their 3-year-old daughter Ilee), where they own Mount Victory Camp eco lodge and teach primitive and survival skills by way of their school, Caribbean Earth Skills

Hear from Carmen and Matt as they not only share survival lessons learned from the hurricanes, but the paths that led them to their way of life, and the contentment they've found in an existence deeply immersed in the natural world—even in the face of natural disaster.

Here’s the rundown of the show:

  • The aftermath of Hurricane Maria

  • Carmen and Matt’s homeschool group, and teaching survival classes post-hurricane

  • The psychological impact of the disaster

  • Survival skills and “experience” versus their now real survival experience

  • Mount Victory Camp before the hurricane, and their subsistence lifestyle in the tropics

  • Contentment in “poverty”

  • Carmen and Matt’s childhoods, and how they came to the world of ancient skills

  • Living and teaching in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey with Tom Brown, Jr.

  • Why they moved to St. Croix and following your inner vision

  • How you can help

  • Climate change, more hurricanes and their plan for the future

  • Carmen and Matt’s advice on how to be prepared for disasters (especially in urban areas)

  • Carmen and Matt’s advice for getting into their way of life

Want to help Carmen and Matt in their rebuilding efforts? Contribute to their GoFundMe campaign. Learn more about their eco lodge (and plan a trip!) on the Mount Victory Camp website and check out their workshops and courses at Caribbean Earth Skills. Carmen and Matt also have a YouTube page and post regularly on Facebook: @MountVictoryCamp.

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!

The Milk Moonshot - Lars Bode and Alan Daly

Top left: Lars Bode, associate professor of pediatrics at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and director of the newly launched  Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Mother-Milk-Infant Center of Research Excellence . Bottom right: Alan Daly, chair and professor of the Department of Education studies at UCSD and a member of MoMI CoRE's scientific advisory board. Top right: Flickr CC image via  Summer

Top left: Lars Bode, associate professor of pediatrics at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and director of the newly launched Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Mother-Milk-Infant Center of Research Excellence. Bottom right: Alan Daly, chair and professor of the Department of Education studies at UCSD and a member of MoMI CoRE's scientific advisory board. Top right: Flickr CC image via Summer

Let’s put it [this] way: We’ll never get to the point where formula will be even close to human milk.
— Lars Bode
We’ve got a lot of great science that’s taking place, but it isn’t moving its way out into the larger world. What’s going on here?
— Alan Daly

It is 2018. Scientists sent a man to the moon half a century ago, they mapped the human genome more than a decade ago, and yet we still have scant scientific understanding about breast milk -- the lifeblood that has sustained humankind for at least the past 7 million years. All of that is about to change, if my guests today have their way. Meet Lars Bode and Alan Daly, two of the scientist powerhouses behind the newly launched Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Mother-Milk-Infant Center of Research Excellence (LRF MoMI CoRE) at the University of California, San Diego—one of the first research centers in the world focused on unraveling the mystery of human milk. 

Lars, who serves as director of the new center, is a noted human milk researcher who is also the president of the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation and an associate professor of pediatrics in UCSD's Division of Neonatology and Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition. (Some of you may recognize his name from my book, Unlatched, in which I visited his laboratory at UCSD and delved into his groundbreaking research on human milk oligosaccharides and the microbiome.) Alan, who serves on the scientific advisory board of MoMI CoRE, comes to human milk research from the social science side: He is the chair and professor of the Department of Education studies at UCSD, as well as executive editor of the journal Educational Neuroscience.

In short, these two guys are rockstars of the academic world (with the global travel schedules to match), and I was so thrilled to finally get the opportunity to sit down with them and talk about The Milk Moonshot, as we dubbed it; find out the full story of why breast milk is not a food, but a human tissue; and get two male scientists to weigh in on the "mommy wars." You won't want to miss this one! 

Show notes:

  • How two men became involved in human milk research

  • Guilt, shaming, and the "mommy wars": Two male scientists weigh in

  • Why is human milk so powerful? (And human milk as a human tissue, finally explained)

  • The mission of MoMI CoRE

  • The limited science guiding societal decisions on breastfeeding

  • The lack of training for doctors in breastfeeding and human lactation

  • Countering the billions of dollars in formula company messaging

  • The “benefits” of breastfeeding versus human milk as the human norm

  • The current attack on science in our post-truth world

  • The Milk Moonshot: The science in the works

  • Lars’s and Alan’s visions for the future

  • How to get involved in human milk research

You can read more about MoMI CoRE and the mission to unravel the complexity of human milk at milk.ucsd.edu. Want to get involved in the effort? Click 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!

The Incontrovertible Nature of Motherhood - Erica Komisar

Erica Komisar Uncivilize.jpg
We can do many, many things in life; we can even do everything in life. We just can’t do it all at the same time.
— Erica Komisar

In America today, 25 percent of women go back to work less than two weeks after giving birth. Seventy percent of babies under the age of one are regularly cared for by someone other than a parent. When you consider the biological imperative for mothers to be close to their babies -- the indisputable norm for how babies were nourished, nurtured, and protected from potential predators for millennia of human history -- it would appear we are now in the midst of a biological and societal experiment in child-rearing unprecedented in the history of humankind. 

This experiment hasn’t been without consequences, says Erica Komisar, my guest today and the author of the thought-provoking (and controversial!) new book Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters. In it, she explores the critical nature of a mother’s presence in early childhood, and connects the alarming increase in childhood mental disorders over the past 30 years to our society’s absence and devaluation of mothering. Erica is a psychoanalyst, so not surprisingly we unpack a lot in this interview -- from the neuroscience underscoring the pivotal role of motherhood and our time’s misguided focus on gender neutrality, to her thoughts on technology, modern-day alloparenting, and how we can spark the revolution toward a truly child-centric society in the 21st century. 

Here’s what we delve into: 

  • Why Erica delayed writing Being There for a decade

  • “Life is not a linear pathway”

  • Our modern epidemic of mental disorders in young children

  • Motherhood as a transformative experience

  • The neuroscience behind the first three years

  • Guilt as the necessary signal to confront feelings of conflict

  • Why gender neutrality is interfering with mothering

  • “We’re not meant to be isolated or to raise children in an isolated fashion”: Our society’s overvaluation of independence and self-sufficiency

  • Why daycare isn’t alloparenting

  • “Having to work” versus really having to work: what the surprising research says

  • How to find a career with more flexibility

  • Being there versus helicopter parenting

  • Kinship bonds and Erica’s vision for the future

Want to learn more about Erica and her work? You can connect with Erica via her website; she’s also on Facebook and Twitter. The link to buy Being There is here and below! 

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!

 

Links from the show:

Werk
Suniya S. Luthar’s research: Read “The Problem With Rich Kids” on Psychology Today

GM Foods, Glyphosate and Gut Health - Dr. Michelle Perro and Vincanne Adams

PerroandAdams_UncivilizePodcast.jpg
These foods have caused these issues. It’s cause and effect. And I want to get that clear. It’s not like, ‘Gee, we have no idea.’ Actually, we do.
— Dr. Michelle Perro

If health is the measure by which we humans are equipped to survive in our current environment, then our children are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine. One in 13 American children has a serious food allergy. Nearly one in 10 has asthma. One in five is obese. And one in 68 has a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. The rate at which these and other chronic conditions have become commonplace (read: epidemic) over the past few decades is equally stunning: childhood food allergies have increased 50 percent since 1997; celiac disease has more than quadrupled over the past half-century, with rates increasing particularly among children; and serious mental disorders, once rare, are now expected to afflict 20 percent of children over the course of their lifetime. So what the hell is going on?

My guests today, Dr. Michelle Perro and Vincanne Adams, offer some stunning answers in their must-read new book What’s Making Our Children Sick? How Industrial Food Is Causing an Epidemic of Chronic Illness, and What Parents (and Doctors) Can Do About It. In it, they explore the connection between genetically modified foods, glyphosate (the world’s most widely used pesticide), and gut health, and make a damning case for the related rise in chronic childhood disorders since GM foods were introduced to the American public. 

GMOs have sparked endless controversy in the US, which is why it’s notable that Adams and Perro are far from the conspiracy-theory crowd: Vincanne is a professor and vice-chair of medical anthropology at the University of California, San Francisco, and Michelle is a pediatrician with over 35 years of experience in acute and integrative medicine (including as a former director of the Pediatric Emergency Department at New York’s Metropolitan Hospital). Here, they trace their own journeys from skeptics to activists and make a powerful case for why it's critical we move beyond the "GMOs aren't natural" argument. We also delve into Michelle's method for successfully treating children with chronic hard-to-diagnose health problems. So if you have a child with a chronic health issue (or if you yourself have a chronic health issue) and have been struggling to find answers, don't miss this episode!  

Here’s the breakdown of the show:

  • Medical anthropology, and Western medicine’s lack of focus on the health of our food

  • From skeptics to activists: The journeys that led Michelle and Vincanne to write this book

  • Tracing the path of microbiome impairment in the typical modern American child

  • What is making our children sick?

  • Moving beyond the “genetically modified food isn’t natural” argument

  • The shift to GMOs in the post-DDT era

  • Glyphosate, the shikimate pathway, and the human microbiome

  • The chronically ill patients Michelle sees, and her treatment protocol

  • How simple dietary changes can put the entire family on the path back to wellness

  • Why local food/“real” food and organic food are not one and the same

  • Spurring change in the mainstream medical community

  • What you can do to reduce your child’s toxicant load and reclaim your family’s gut health

Learn more about What's Making Our Children Sick? on the Chelsea Green website and Michelle's clinical practice on the Gordon Medical Practice website. Michelle also runs the website GMOscience.org. Michelle and Vincanne are on Facebook here and here. And check out the link to buy their book, below! 

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!