002 Sugar, Secret Projects and Contaminated Soil


On the second episode of the Root Simple Podcast we discuss the documentary Fed Up and what happened when we gave up sugar for a week. We also discuss that secret project that Erik completed while Kelly was off camping and we answer a reader question about contaminated soil.

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The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. Additional music by Rho.

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  1. Thoroughly enjoyed this podcast! Good gauge on the double digging (as in don’t) with contaminated soil….and thank you for telling us what the secret homestead change was. Whew.
    Mrs. Homegrown – have you thought about making your own almond croissants (or convincing Mr. Homegrown to try his hand at pastry on your behalf?) Surely with the good flour you guys use you could create a tasty, not so sugar laden treat for your once a week (or so) indulgence.Serve said goodies warm with tea and you could open a side business 😉 Also, for the benefit of the unwilling-to-let-go like me – can you confirm/deny that alcohol counts as a sugar when you’re doing a sugar fast? (duh. Of course it must….but maybe not? My not so inner fat kid really hopes it doesn’t count) I found myself mentally tabulating what I eat while you two were talking and must admit that chocolate, dried fruit and wine would be my biggest challenges to abstain from were I to try a no sugar fast. Sad, but true.

    • Thanks for the compliment! I actually took a class with Craig Ponsford last year. Ponsford taught us how to make whole grain low sugar croissants. Unfortunately, it’s a huge amount of labor to do by hand (it involves laminating dough). Most bakeries don’t laminate their own dough, incidentally. It requires either an expensive machine or a lot of work with a rolling pin.

      Lustig mentions alcohol in passing in the lecture but does not go into detail. I’m guessing from the short comment he made that it’s ok in moderation and has some benefits. The point he makes about sugar is that we eat so much of it’s that it’s equivalent to alcoholism. That is it’s like drinking beer all day and all night without the benefits that wine and beer have in moderation. That’s my guess–will have to see if he talks about this in his book.

  2. I too, enjoyed the podcast! In regard to soil contamination, while I was doing research for my book, long ago and far away, I discovered that winter squash sucked up more of the metabolites of DDT than any other food crop. I dubbed it the vacuum cleaner of the vegetable world. I don’t know how it does on lead, but if we could get someone to test one after it grown on contaminated soil we might have a plan. Of course, you wouldn’t want to eat it – I’m not sure what you would do with it – no matter what the lead would still remain.

    • Hey Luddene,

      That’s good to know. I would love to see a table of vegetables and what they suck up–do you know of any one place for this information? Perhaps it’s in your book?

  3. I have some stuff listed in my book, but your tax dollars paid for this pdf so get your money’s worth:


    It appears the document has a 65-page listing of pesticides and how many of the samples tested contained a residue and the range of values (or how much). I just did a quick scan, but it appeared that they tested 742 samples of winter squash. It was about 50-50 import vs. domestic grown. Winter Squash did not contain every chemical, but a quick glance it looked to be about 80% did. Moreover, usually all 742 samples were contaminated. Just a reminder, starting to look through this pdf will turn you off eating anything except home grown! On a practical note, a decade ago when I was writing, the USDA did a lot of these tables in Excel and it was much easier to extract the information. Eric, don’t stay up all night reading!

  4. Oops! They have change how I was used to reading the Excel charts. So winter squash isn’t as contaminated as thought, but baby food, that’s another matter…

  5. Very interesting and fun podcast. Thank you. I gave up refined sugar about 20 years ago and stuck it out for a couple of years before I drifted back into my addiction, currently out of control. Most of what I eat is home made, and more and more is home grown but I have a terrible weakness for baked goods and chocolate. I get into this argument with myself that if I bake my own cookies then its ok because they are healthier than store bought. But you reminded me that even without preservatives and palm oil, my home baking is still laden with sugar. Sigh. Thanks for the tips about sugar fasting Kelly, I like the idea of recalibrating my taste buds and then sticking to a 6 tsp limit. Especially if I start while I still have a bucket of yacon needing to be eaten. Sweet AND crunchy might distract two of my cookie monster cravings.
    Also- since starting to no-dig garden I am amazed at how much less work, ie weeding, is involved. It seems like cheating to harvest such abundance from so little effort.

    • Meliors, Good luck with your sugar fast. I too have a huge sweet tooth and it’s a real struggle not to binge on baked goods. And congrats on growing yacon–been wanting to try that myself. How does it taste?

  6. Yacon tastes likes a very mild, slightly sweet apple that is super crisp and juicy. If you peel it, there is no bitterness and there is no sourness. I’ve been eating it instead of refined sugar since I listened to your podcast; now starting day four of my sugar-fast this morning feeling pretty good.
    Yacon is very easy to grow too, I just put the tubers (not the eating tubers which are big and brown, but the little purple tubers for replanting) into a raised bed and waited and waited and waited. I actually gave up on them at one point in early summer and planted capsicum seedlings on top of them. Eventually I had yacon and peppers crowding together happily. I harvested them after first frost last week and immediately replanted the purple tubers in the same spot (marked with stakes so I don’t over plant them next summer).

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