New world record, whales, and “innocent” gluten?

Hi, this is Geoff,

Some offbeat nuggets in this week’s Friday Five, so let’s jump right in…

Go, India! There are lots and lots of bizarre world records documented by the Guinness Book of World Records: For example, Donald Gorske consumed 26,000 Big Macs in a lifetime, and Johnny Strange held and cut (with a chainsaw!) eight apples in his mouth in under a minute. If those aren’t odd enough, there are records for being covered by the largest number of bees, the longest wedding dress train, and the biggest prenatal yoga class. All interesting in their own right, but here is one record that should make us all proud: 1.5 million volunteers in Madhya Pradesh, India, gathered to plant 66,000,000 trees in 12 hours. Yes, that’s 66 MILLION trees. Wow! Chainsaws, apples, and wedding dresses are all fine, but I prefer the trees 🙂

Star Trek IV and Whales: So it turns out Star Trek IV was  kind of right, whales are super important and without them we might be in trouble. In the last half century biologists have discovered something called Trophic Cascades which are basically a way to understand how ecosystems are connected.” With that interesting observation, my colleague and friend, Rob Avis, begins a fascinating post on the topic. Additional examples of trophic cascades in a variety of other ecosystems can be seen here.

Tread Carefully: There’s a lot of buzz about palm oil being the “new superfood”; I used scare quotes because palm oil has been considered a sacred food for over 4,000 years, so there is absolutely nothing new about it, other than our own modern awareness. Recently, Brazil has set its sights on becoming the world’s biggest producer of palm oil; and when it did so, excitement quickly gave way to concern. Here’s why: “Almost half of the land area of Brazil is suitable for growing oil palm, according to researchers, making it the number one country – they say – in terms of suitable land. Such growth offers potential benefits for Brazil’s rural economy. But with most of this suitable land in the wildlife-rich, forested Amazon region in the north of the country, campaigners and observers fear Brazil’s ambitious plans for its palm oil sector will fuel a surge in landgrabbing, conflict and deforestation.” The full article, prospects, and concerns are detailed here. Will the Amazon rainforest be “collateral damage”?

Gluten or Glyphosate? An epidemic of symptoms that have widely come to be known as “gluten intolerance” is getting a second look from a growing body of researchers: Is gluten the culprit, or Monsanto’s infamous glyphosate? After taking a look at the following, I invite you to be the judge: Peer-reviewed research published in Interdisciplinary Toxicology, an interview with the authors of that study – part 1 here, and part 2 here, and a more anecdotal, first-person write-up here.

In case you missed it: A few pieces of interest this week from our sister site, the non-profit Permaculture Research Institute:

If you enjoy these posts, be sure to bookmark the site as several new articles go up weekly, or check out thousands of other past articles, here.  

That’s it for the Friday Five.  As always, if you have comment / reactions / a different point of view, please share below.

Cheers, and have a great weekend

Your friend,


2017-07-09T07:42:47+00:00 Blog|4 Comments