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Health & Fitness
Natural Sciences

The Probiotic Life

Updated about 1 month ago

Health & Fitness
Natural Sciences
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The Probiotic Life is platform to share stories and conversations with people who have devoted their lives in some way to better human life and heal our planet. I interview people who are involved in the art and science of working with microbes, and have changed the way they live because of the interactions or lessons they've learned from nature, and more specifically, from their area of discipline.

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The Probiotic Life is platform to share stories and conversations with people who have devoted their lives in some way to better human life and heal our planet. I interview people who are involved in the art and science of working with microbes, and have changed the way they live because of the interactions or lessons they've learned from nature, and more specifically, from their area of discipline.

iTunes Ratings

17 Ratings
Average Ratings

Great Topics

By DaverMushroom - Dec 03 2019
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This show has sent me down some rabbit holes. Great content and guests.

Probiotics rock!

By moonseed dancer - May 29 2019
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Thank you for this wonderful show! Enjoyable and informative.

iTunes Ratings

17 Ratings
Average Ratings

Great Topics

By DaverMushroom - Dec 03 2019
Read more
This show has sent me down some rabbit holes. Great content and guests.

Probiotics rock!

By moonseed dancer - May 29 2019
Read more
Thank you for this wonderful show! Enjoyable and informative.
Cover image of The Probiotic Life

The Probiotic Life

Latest release on May 19, 2020

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail about 1 month ago

Rank #1: 042 - Regenerative Cannabis Cultivation And The Soil Food Web With James Rickbeil

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Join us in this episode as we talk with James Rickbeil and dive deep into the soil food web. James is a soil food web enthusiast, compost artist, and a student of Dr. Elaine Ingham getting certified as Soil Food Web consultant. He is also a cannabis grower who is passionate about regenerative living soil systems. On Instagram he’s known as @microbeherder and he’s been posting some great clips of what he sees down the lens of his microscope.

In this conversation James really highlights some of the main connections between soil health and human health and talk about how our microbiome affects everything in our body.

We also talk about the recent event he participated in called “The Science of Regenerative Cannabis Cultivation Conference”

There is lots of golden nugs in this episode, so belt up and get ready for a ride!

Be sure to check out James on Instagram @microbeherder

If you are keen about soil health, go on over to and pick your self up a microbiometer… You’ll be able to get a better picture of how much life is in your soil, and you’ll be supporting the podcast by purchasing from our affiliate.

Enter the promo code ‘probioticlife’ to get $10 off your purchase.

May the beneficial microbes be with you!

Show Notes to come.

Feb 06 2019

1hr 16mins


Rank #2: 044 - Fermentation, Flavours, and Process with Mara King

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Today on the podcast we are talking with fermentation fanatic and entrepreneur Mara King. She shares her passion of probiotics through workshops, talks and fermented food products and has inspired people worldwide through her TED talk - “What can we learn from fermentation?”

Mara worked for many years as a chef, including a period as a sushi chef, but through a journey of process and fermentation, co-founded a fermented food company called Ozuké based in Boulder, Colorado.

Join us as Mara shares some of her story, including memories of growing up in Hong Kong, first experiences with fermentation, and starting the business Ozuké. We talk about the workshops she attended with Sandor Katz and how that eventually led to her travelling with Sandor through China to explore traditional Chinese fermentation techniques. You can watch their travels through China in an eight part series called: Peoples Republic Of Fermentation

Mara refers to a book near the end of the episode - she says “The Botany of Desire” but what she is actually referring to is “The Drunken Botanist” by Amy Stewart.

Support the podcast by getting the book here: Hardcover or Audiobook

If you want to find out what Mara is up to, you can check out her Instagram @zukemono

Also check out Ozuké at and on Facebook and Instagram @we.are.ozuke

Mara will be doing a workshop with Sandor in Denver at:

Slow Food Nations, July 20, 12.30-2pm

She’ll be giving an Asian fermentation presentation at:

Congreso de Fermentacion, Oaxaca, October 17-20

Facebook and Instagram @fermentoaxaca

If you’ve been inspired by our talk today, why don’t you reach out to Mara and tell her so:

As Mara says: it’s all about process…

Be involved with living a probiotic life and may the beneficial microbes be with you!

Show Notes to come.

May 16 2019



Rank #3: 002 - Faye Arcaro

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This show is about bugs and the ecosystems around our gardens; specifically Faye's garden. Faye is a gardener extrordinaire and loves creating habitat for bugs in her garden.
We talk about the specific insects and ecosystems here in Western Australia, as well as ways to attract diversity in your garden.
We also cover recycling, repurposing, and creating. We also touch on connecting, sharing, and inspiring the people around you and your community.

Here's the first ever interview on The Probiotic Life.

Aug 18 2017



Rank #4: 045 - The Show Must Go On

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This is a bit of a different episode. In the first half Ben responds to some emails for the benefit of everyone. If you like it, let us know, and he’ll use this format for episodes between interviews.

The second half of the episode Ben gets real, and goes into some of the challenges he’s faced, and some of the things that are inspiring him. He asks for your input on what inspires you on the journey of living a probiotic life.

Thanks to Daniel Klenner for the music in this episode. Check out his work at

May the beneficial microbes be with you!

May 30 2019



Rank #5: 041 - Bokashi & Effective Microorganisms With Cuauhtemoc Villa

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Join us in this fascinating interview with bokashi expert Cuauhtemoc Villa.

He is a friend of the microbes, student of their ancient wisdom, and teacher of their ways. He has years of experience working with Effective Microorganisms, and creating custom blends of bokashi specific to the needs of the plants he works with. He does work in bio-remediation of land and waterways, and teaches school kids these practices. In conjunction to this, he also teaches Indigenous Agricultural Practices.

Cuauhtemoc shares a bit about he got involved with the microbes and shares with us some basics of how to brew EM and make bokashi.

His passion for the microbes is amazing, and he’s changing people’s lives as he shares their wisdom; he gives a lot of hope to the kids that have forgotten who they are, the ones that other give up on.

I hope you get inoculated with inspiration from this interview!

Learning how to grow plants and microbes is therapy for your soul!

Some things Cuauhtemoc is involved in:

Reach out to him here:

Instagram: bokashi4u

Facebook: Cuauhtemoc Villa

Some recommendations from Cuauhtemoc:

Video: Microbe Power

Books he recommends:

Earth Saving Revolution

Dr. Teruo Higa

Growing A Revolution

David R. Montgomery

If you are keen to build soil health, and in turn, your own health, get yourself a Microbiometer!

It’s a way of testing and monitoring the microbial biomass in the soil, to see how much life you’ve got down there. Check out our affiliate to purchase one, and in turn, support the podcast.

When you go to the checkout, enter the promo code ‘probioticlife’ for $10 dollars off your purchase.

Feel free to shoot us an email with any questions, comments, or guest suggestions. Also, we’re looking for inspiring original music to share on the podcast, so send us an email if you’ve want to share your creative energies. Thank you for being on this journey as we discover what it looks like to live a probiotic life!

May the beneficial microbes be with you…

Show Notes to come.

Jan 19 2019

1hr 4mins


Rank #6: 040 - Kefir Grains For Health With Dominic Anfiteatro

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In this episode, we bring you an interview with Dominic Anfiteatro from Adelaide, South Australia. Dominic was featured in Sandor Katz’ book ‘The Art of Fermentation’ and is a kefir alchemist of sorts. Join us as he shares his story of how he came across kefir. I enjoyed the way Dom tells stories… He also tells the story of where kefir grains come from, and why you should eat your kefir grains!

Among the topics we discuss are: silken kefir, the systemic anti-inflammatory nature of kefir grains, adding kefir grains to other foods, continuous secondary fermentation, and water kefir. You can tell Dom is passionate about what he does, I really enjoyed chatting with him.

Thanks for hanging out with us here on The Probiotic Life! We love hearing from you, we love hearing how you are living a probiotic life, and love hearing feedback about the podcast! You can support us by giving us a rating and review,

You can find all of Dom’s fantastic info on his website:

Check out a video of Dom’s giant kefir grains

Here’s another video of his water kefir grains

Check out our affiliate at

Enter the promo code: probioticlife to get $10 off your purchase

Show Notes to come.

Dec 09 2018

1hr 18mins


Rank #7: 043 - The Human Super Organism Microbiome With Dr. Rodney Dietert

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Our guest today is a Professor of Immunotoxicology at Cornell University.

He has become an internationally renowned author, educator and scientist known for his work on the microbiome and the immune system.

Not only has he been on faculty at Cornell since 1977 and published many peer-reviewed papers, but he’s traveled the world giving lectures and keynotes in a variety of forums.

He may be most well known for his book "The Human Super Organism: How the Microbiome is Revolutionising the Pursuit of a Healthy Life”

Join us as Rodney shares his story of how he came to be a professor at Cornell and what inspired him to do so.

In this episode we delve into Rodney’s ‘Completed Self Hypothesis’ which he outlines in the book ‘The Human Super Organism’ and talk about how what we are learning about the microbiome changes the way we look at medicine. He relates the human microbiome to a coral reef ecosystem, anyhow it relates to antibiotics, probiotics, gene transfer, biofilms, inflammation and cancer. We also chat about getting out in nature and playing in the soil and risks versus benefits.

There’s lots of great info in this episode, and Rodney makes it quite relatable for the non-academic. We hope you enjoy it and find it valuable on this exploration of the probiotic life. Thanks for taking time to be part of the journey!

Dr. Rodney Dietert’s latest book:

"The Human Super Organism: How the Microbiome is Revolutionising the Pursuit of a Healthy Life”

Purchase the book, ebook or audiobook through this link to support the podcast.

Connect with Dr. Rodney Dietert:


Twitter: @RodDietert

If you are keen about soil health, go on over to and pick your self up a microbiometer… You’ll be able to get a better picture of how much life is in your soil, and you’ll be supporting the podcast by purchasing from our affiliate.

Enter the promo code ‘probioticlife’ to get $10 off your purchase.

May the beneficial microbes be with you!

Show Notes to come.

Mar 07 2019

1hr 2mins


Rank #8: 039 - The Soil Will Save Us With Kristin Ohlson

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Today we talk to Kristin Ohlson who is an award-winning freelance journalist, and the author of “The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers and Foodies are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet” Though she writes on a variety of topics, I was interested to talk to Kristin specifically because of this book.

Join us as Kristin shares bit about her writing career and how she came to write “The soil will save us” She shares a story of a farmer named Gabe Brown and the inspiration she drew from him, which leads us to talk about climate change, our microbiome, and the similarities between our microbiome and the soil microbiome.

You can find out all about Kristin on her website

Thanks for listening, and sharing of your time with us. We always love to hear what you’re doing to live a probiotic life!

Check out our affiliate and when you enter the promo code ‘probiotic life’ you’ll get $10 off your purchase, which is essentially your first sample for free.

Thanks to Phil and his band Confiture for delivering some soulful vibes in this episode. You can check them out at

May the beneficial microbes be with you!

Show Notes to come.

Nov 09 2018

1hr 2mins


Rank #9: 038 - Probiotic Permaculture With Geoff Lawton & Sam Parker-Davies

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In this episode, it is a pleasure to bring you an interview with Geoff Lawton & Sam Parker-Davies of Zaytuna Farm in New South Wales, Australia.

Geoff is a world renowned permaculture designer, advisor, and teacher. He’s worked in over 30 countries around the world, and has taught over 15,000 students.

Sam is a student of Geoff’s, learning to follow in his footsteps, and is just a few years in to his permaculture journey. He contributes a fresh look at Geoff’s significant work through the eyes of a new, but deeply engaged learner.

I had the privilege of talking to them both about their experiences, and what permaculture means to them.

Of particular note is our discussion of the property they live on. Zaytuna Farm is a self sufficient site for permaculture demonstration, and is also the base for the Permaculture Research Institute.

A recurring theme that comes up in this conversation is creating abundance, and how a rich and fulfilling life comes from creating abundance around us.

Join us as we dive in to the world of permaculture!

Here are the links we mention:

Zaytuna Farm

Permaculture Research Institute

Permaculture Global

Permaculture Circle radio

Geoff Lawton Online


If you’re keen to do a bit of citizen science and test the microbial biomass in your soil, check out

Enter the promo code ‘probioticlife’ when you order, and get $10 off your purchase. This helps support the podcast.

Show Notes to come.

Oct 14 2018

1hr 8mins


Rank #10: 037 - Teaming With Microbes With Jeff Lowenfels

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In this episode we talk to Jeff Lowenfels about his trilogy of books: Teaming With Microbes, Teaming With Nutrients, And Teaming With Fungi. He frequently travels and lectures on these subjects which has led to his nickname “Lord of The Roots.”

Jeff also writes the longest running garden column in North America; The Alaska Dispatch Garden Column, having never missed a week in 41 years.

Join us for this lively conversation as Jeff shares how he came to write Teaming With Microbes, and how he changed direction after giving 25 years of wrong advice in his garden column. We touch on his book Teaming With Nutrients and delve into Jeff’s third book in the series; Teaming With Fungi.

We talk about how everything is connected, especially in the soil, and how important soil life is for our own existence.

You can find out more about Jeff on his website

Check out his Twitter:

Thank you for tuning in to this conversation! Let us know what you’d like to hear on the Probiotic Life.

You can support us by giving us a rating and review, and at

Show Notes to come.

Sep 15 2018

1hr 6mins


Rank #11: 036 - Cultivating Cultures & Social Fermentation With Eva Bakkeslett

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In this episode, we talk with Eva Bakkeslett.

Eva is a creative at heart and has a Masters in Art & Ecology and she defines herself as an artist, filmmaker, curator and gentle activist. Her works often combine film, workshops and public participation to challenge, inspire and engage people. She is particularly inspired by the process of fermentation and explores how this can be a method for re-imagining sustainable human cultures.

Eva shows, lectures, curates and performs her work worldwide and she resides on the beautiful island of Engeløya in northern Norway. Join us as Eva shares some of the projects she’s done -including working with Sandor Katz; we talk about using fermentation as a metaphor, and get into some great discussion about having connection to the natural world.

I really appreciated talking to someone with a different world view, and expanding my consciousness. I hope you benefit too! Thanks for listening.

If you want to support the show, you can give us a rating and review and you can contribute at

Check Eva’s website out to learn more about her and what she’s up to:

You can connect personally with Eva:

Be sure to check out Eva’s TED talk:

And here is a fascinating book Eva contributed to:


Eva Bakkeslett

- grew up steeped in wilderness and nature, picking wild food and baking bread

- always asked deep questions about how things are connected

- studied for a Masters in Art and Ecology

- while studying, made a poetic film about the process of making bread

- while fermenting, the bread dough was “chatting” to Eva: Eva decided to learn to understand that language

- became fascinated by the process of fermentation, and how it could relate to creating sustainable human cultures

Listening to Fermentation

- was inspired by people working with fermentation such as Frank Cook and Sandor Katz, did their course

- started incorporating that inquiry into every aspect of her artistic practice

- most nations have their own fermentation cultures passed down through the generations, Eva began to learn about these and how they parallel the other, larger kind of “culture”

- discussion of people who have shaped Eva’s mindset

How Eva Communicates Her Ideas

- “social fermentation”, involves humans and microbes

- workshops, more-in depth courses, films, art exhibitions

- bringing people into the fermentation processes

- reconnecting with natural processes, instead of seeing ourselves as separate

- encouraging people to ask deeper questions

Fermentation on a Cultural Level

- discussion of different ferments Eva is working with

- stories of people emigrating with cultures from their native homes, across to other countries

- engaging people on a visceral level

- we are great at using our eyes, but neglect the other senses

- Eva aims to facilitate the start of a transformation in people, an epiphany moment

- embracing a more connected way of thinking with then brings change

- story of immigrant couple from Congo experiencing Scandinavian ferment, memories of their native fermentation processes = cultural connections

Tying Into Humanity’s Bigger Picture

- we are all inevitably part of the earth’s fermentation process; when we die, we return to the earth

- we can choose be part of those natural processes now while we live

- these moments of experiencing nature’s transformations are magic

How Eva Finds Her Next Project

- becoming part of good things that are already happening

- initiating events

- discussion of connecting with immigrants, their stories and their own cultural practices = cultural fermentation on a meta level

Looking To The Future

- touring show about bird situation worldwide

- not looking for answers, but looking for questions

- we are more bacterial than human: a metaphorical perspective as well as a biological one

- everything is connected, and we can experience being part of it

Closing Thoughts

- go and explore for yourself

- Eva will be in Copenhagen at Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology on October 18th 2018

Aug 24 2018



Rank #12: 035 - Air Bioremediation And Living Walls With Dr. Alan Darlington

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This episode, we talk with Dr. Alan Darlington about his work with air bio-filtration.

Dr. Darlington was awarded his PhD investigating the interaction between plants and their physical environment from the University of Guelph, in Canada.

He spent 6 years as a member of a research team developing biological life support systems for long term space habitation, and is the “inventor” of a number of patents integral to the application of plant based biofilters that arose from research.

In 2005, he was named by Outdoor Magazine as one of the 25 top “true believers” in the environmental movement, for his work with plant biofilters, and he’s received a number of awards for academic and entrepreneurial accomplishments.

Come nerd out with me as Dr. Darlington graces us with his depth of knowledge and understanding, in all things bioremedial!

You can find out what Alan is up to, and reach out to him at

If you want a little inspiration on how you can start to live a probiotic life, check out our Instagram @theprobioticlife

Thanks to all who are supporting this journey. You can support…

I hope this interview has got you thinking about new ways you can create life around you. Thanks for listening!


Dr. Alan Darlington

- spent a lot of time as a youth walking through the bush, wanted to turn it into a career

- got degree in horticulture, every plant has value

- the importance of how things all fit together, how plants are affected by their environment

- PhD in how atmospheric conditions influences plant physiology and growth

- worked on waste disposal in closed environments, e.g. space stations

- realised this same technology could be used worldwide

New Technologies for Clean Air

- living walls

- people spend very little time outside

- indoor air quality is hard to maintain, indoor items give off gases

- can we generate fresh air indoors?

- “virtual outdoor air” with living wall technology

- biofiltration: used industrially; microbes take the waste in the air and eat it

- phytoremediation: more for brown fields (contaminated soils); introduce green plants that hasten the growth of beneficial microbes

- hydroponics: wall of coarse growth media, with water circulating through it; plants feed microbes, microbes clean the air

Aha! Moments

- discussion of spider plants & formaldehyde research experiment

- Dr. Alan was inspired by this example


- VOCs (“the stinks and the smells”) being released all the time from products and people

- these are lesser than they were 20 years ago

- discussion of VOC studies

- currently, people are forced to choose between running a building efficiently or having good air quality

- biofiltration can render that choice unnecessary

- this is what his company, Air Quality Solutions seeks to do

- their biofilters cultivate both bacteria and fungi

- making them easy for anybody to use

- giving naturally-occurring microbes a great environment to do what they do best

Microbes in Space

- transporting Earth microbes to space

- discussion of biofiltration in space

Nature Offers Solutions

- further discussion of integrated air filtration systems and potential issues

- spores, mould, humidity, energy levels, diverting water

- Dr. Alan began work with NEDLAW mid 200s, a building company, to implement air quality solutions

- we are living among a plethora of other organisms, and we just need to learn how to get along

- for many issues, the solution is there in nature for us to find

- discussion of recent research on species of fungi, spores, other organisms in air

- air is not a sterile environment, so introducing new microbes is not a problem, it’s just a matter of keeping all populations under control

Solutions For Moving Forward

- having plants in your home does very little for air quality, although it may help you mentally!

- healthy, uncontaminated soil is much more important

- figuring out the right box to put nature’s solutions in to solve issues

- improving efficiency of systems, not using unnecessary energy

- people have a lot of fear about microbes

- teaching people that we can harness many microbes to our benefit, and conversely there are very few that can harm us

Aug 10 2018



Rank #13: 034 - Herbalism, Philosophy, and Fermentation With Angelina Hjelm

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In this episode, we talk to Angelina Hjelm of

Her passion is to gather nature’s intrinsic knowledge and share it with others.

She’s studied alpine botany at Umeå university. Did a Bachelors in organic gardening and design systems at Gothenburg University.

And also a Permaculture Design Course with Richard Perkins, at Ridgedale Permaculture Farm.

Angelina’s love for nature and her inquisitive disposition has given her extensive knowledge of plants, both wild and cultivated, their use in gardens and their medicinal and culinary properties.

Join us as Angelina shares some of her journey. We get into a great discussion about connecting to nature, wild foraging, herbs, and she shares with us some ‘how to’ on her favourite ferments.

Check out what Angelina is up to:



Thanks for investing your time in this podcast. You are welcome to financially support us at

To all who have been reaching out and connecting, thanks being part of this journey!

Show Notes

- studied and worked with plants for last 13 years

- alpine botany and organic gardening at university

- strong sense of belonging in the natural world, and therefore curiosity, has been the inspiration for her work all her life

- “everyday magic”, being part of this little bubble (Earth) among the stars

- discussion of oldest place in Sweden

- Angelina had a farm near the Arctic circle

- now lives in the southern part of Sweden, and works there to guide people into the natural world

- certified in permaculture

- since 2016 has run “Angelina Naturalis”: specialises in edible and medicinal wild plants, herbal therapy, plant-based wild and green foods

- incorporating plants into everyday life is gentler on the body, creates longterm solutions

- Angelina helps people find ways to use these plants regularly

- discussion of Angelina’s early experiences in nature

- wanted to learn more details about how plant kingdom was defined

- she learned how to read the landscape based on what plants were growing and how they tasted

- colours and flavours, and therefore nutrients, are intensified in certain landscapes, where food is less available

- we have focused on sweeter plants in our cultivated crops, and neglected more bitter-tasting medicinal ones

- bitter substances serve specific functions in our body, to stimulate enzymes, gallbladder & pancreatic juices, digesting and absorbing foods

- Angelina advocates a balance of annuals, biannuals, and perennials in the diet

- because of her connection to nature, Angelina grew up with a sense of trust, and a very positive outlook on the world, in contrast to many others she encountered

- she saw the world as dynamic, resilient, and capable, a world of possibilities

- “we are in space, no one knows why, I love you”

- understanding the natural world gives a sense of responsibility and care, that we have natural capital and resources available to use to benefit each other and the world


- the world has billions of years experience, and so many functional systems to learn from

- a striving to understand, but also an openness that there is so much more to know

Looking Forward

- base knowledge of the world in and around us, tending to our health while not overloading the systems around us that we are totally dependent on

- instead of conquering and controlling, we have the possibility to collaborate

- oldest book in Chinese medicine, which is about the relationship between human being and nature, constantly adapting for optimum function


- fermented “Jun” culture

- using Jun to make different herbal brews and medicinal teas

- fermenting flowers and leaves into different teas

- discussion of fermentation process

- discussion of plants and flavours to use

Current Interests

- studying phytochemistry, otherwise known as herbal therapy

- herbal tours from south to the north of Scandinavia

- people have a hunger and openness to gain useful knowledge of plants, especially children

Final Thoughts

- Angelina wants to encourage even the smallest expression of cultivating a healthier approach to life

- support people who are already doing so

- engage with your curiosity

- willingness to be amazed

Angelina’s Inspirations

- intensive permaculture design course with Richard Perkins

- Stephen Barstow, “The Extreme Salad Man”

Jul 21 2018

1hr 4mins


Rank #14: 033 - ‘A Place In The Country’ Exploration with Chris Ferreira

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This episode is another insightful interview with Chris Ferreira.

He recently released a book called ‘A Place In The Country’ and we discuss the story of how Chris came to write this book, and delve into the subjects covered.

Chris is a friend and a mentor, and I’m happy to support him by giving him a platform to discuss the book. The idea behind the book is an “ ‘eyes wide open’ approach to creating your own beautiful, productive and sustainable rural landscape.”

While not directly related to microbes, I think it fits in well to living a probiotic life by keeping with the theme of creating life around us.

We talk about choosing a rural property, deciding on livestock, priming the soil, pasture and crops, revegetation, water in the landscape, and more.

I really had fun talking to Chris about his book, and I hope you enjoy our chat too.

If you listen to this the week it’s released, you can enter to win a copy of this book!

Also, if you enjoy this podcast, consider giving us a rating and review on your preferred podcast app. And if you want to really support the podcast, consider supporting us on Patreon.

Check out The Probiotic Life on Instagram to enter the giveaway.

The official rules are here.

You can purchase a copy of the book here.

Show Notes to come.

Jul 06 2018

1hr 6mins


Rank #15: 032 - Medical Mycology And Molecular Biology With Julie Wolf

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In this episode we talk to Julie Wolf who is the communications specialist at the American Society for Microbiology. She has her PHD in medical mycology, and teaches at a community bio-lab in New York.

As part of her work with ASM she hosts the podcast ‘Meet the Microbiologist’, and I thought it would be fun to talk to someone who talks to microbiologists for a living.

Join us for this intelligent and thoughtful interview as we hear how Julie got into studying medical mycology and her work with the American Society for Microbiology. We also talk about science communication, genetic modifications, citizen science and molecular biology.

Follow Julie on Twitter:


And Listen to her podcast:

Meet the Microbiologist

And check these too!

ASM Blogs


Biotech Without Borders

Thanks for the feedback and the reviews, and all who are supporting the podcast. Feedback helps us to serve you better!

You can now support us on Patreon

And may the beneficial microbes be with you ;-)

Show Notes

Julie Wolf

- focus on medical mycology

- story of how she came to choose studying single-celled fungi instead of pathological bacteria

Medical Mycology

- very few fungi that can cause disease in humans

- our ability to be warm-blooded protects us from most fungi growth

- our natural microbiota contains common fungi like candida, which can only grow too numerous under specific stressors to our microbiome such as antibiotics

- those with compromised immune systems are more vulnerable to disease-causing fungi

- idea that there is a small microbiota population that form the foundation of the microbiome, most of these are bacteria, some are fungi

Julie’s Current Work

- Julie is a science communicator

- digests scientific technical reports into smaller summaries

- making the “take-home message” clear

- she hosts a podcast “Meet the Microbiologist”, and a youtube series “Microbial Minutes”

Shaping Her Mindset

- her interest in science came late in life

- tried a few things before taking a microbiology class, realised how cool and intelligent these simple organisms are

- became fascinated with bacteria

- tried her hand at research in a lab as an undergraduate

- learned the importance of a mentor, had a graduate student who was very important in fostering her curiosity

- inspired her to want to be a good mentor herself

Effective Communication

- in Julie’s observation, science folk can struggle with how much detail to include when presenting to others outside their field

- sometimes take-home message gets lost in jargon

- lead with the most interesting facts, and cut to the chase

Citizen Science

- “GenSpace”: a community biolab in New York, a place for people to visit and experience hands-on all kinds of science

- many people interested in bioremediation and mushrooms

- strong community now pursuing mycoremediation

- discussion of how to get into molecular biology for citizen science

- more examples of citizen science happening currently

- research is just starting to understand and explore the myriad possibilities with citizen science and biolabs

- Julie provides some examples of this

Genetic Modification

- FDA only counts adding genes as genetic modification, Julie thinks deleting genes should also be counted

- everything we eat has DNA in it, so don’t be afraid of eating something with a different genetic sequence, it’s all broken down through the process of digestion

- the politics of GMO is a separate issue than the science of it

- we now have the knowledge to understand what is being changed in the genetic information when we put microbiota through certain processes

- this is safer than just irradiating fungi and then taste it like we used to do!

- discussion of golden rice example

- discussion of dengue-resistant mosquito example

- openness to these genetic modifications can depend on what the stakes are for the people most likely to be affected

- the idea of “the natural order of things” and fear of messing with it, can fail to take into account how things were before our own time

- ex: common diseases people used to die from until we developed techniques to prevent it, used to be “the natural order of things”

Current Projects

- educating researchers on how best to communicate their results in a headline-driven, time-poor world

- the more interesting you make your headline, the more likely people will be to read what you have written

- Julie is most excited and happy to be involved in podcasting and interviewing

Final Thoughts

- A Probiotic Life, by Julie: taking care of her own health and the environment to the best of her abilities

- using as little waste as possible, balanced diet, getting sleep

- technology and science are advancing rapidly

- don’t let this pace can put people off: if you’re interested, just jump in

- podcast recommendation: Vincent Racaniello does several, all on science

Jun 08 2018



Rank #16: 031 - Mindsets, Mycology & Creative Expression With William Padilla-Brown

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Today’s interview is with with William Padilla-Brown. He’s a mycologist, artist, permaculturalist, and the founder of Mycosymbiotics. He has produced one of the first English books on cultivating Cordyceps militaris.

His website has the quote ”Homeostasis will only be achieved via Symbiosis with local Systems" which is a good way to frame this interview.

Join us as William shares a bit about his journey, which leads us through a fascinating dialogue about mindsets, community, permaculture, mycology, creative expression, psychedelic experience, and culture.

William is also a hip-hop artist and on this episode we feature one of his latest releases. You can listen to it on Soundcloud here:

Thanks again to everyone who is supporting us in some way or form. We’d love it if you would invest two minutes to give us a rating and review.

You may notice some of the same threads keep coming up in the interviews, and we’d like some feedback about these. What threads do you like? What threads don’t interest you? What do you want to hear more of?

There are a few good takeaways from this one, so listen up!

Check out what William is up to:






William Padilla-Brown



Show Notes

William Padilla-Brown

- started a mushroom festival in 2015

- pre-existing interest in nutrition prior to getting into mushrooms

- benefits of cordyceps mushrooms

- wrote book “Cultivating Cordyceps”, one of the first guides about growing these written in English

Mindset Opens A Different Path

- moved around the world often while growing up

- dropped out of school at 16, started to take his education into his own hands

- became interested in holistic life choices, growing own food, permaculture

- decided to be the person in his community who undertook study of mushrooms

- had a desire to be an educator

- didn’t want to do traditional work for a living, saw opportunity to make a life another way

- taught a mushroom class, made more money in one hour than in lots more hours in any other job he’d had

- created a community around his chosen area of interest

- began to feel overloaded with too many projects, so narrowed focus to cordeceps

William’s Approach

- goes about his work with an “open source” mindset

- asks “how can I make this more accessible for people who need it?”

- loves to teach inner city residents

- his background in hip-hop and rap music has allowed him to introduce lots of people to permaculture ideas, who otherwise wouldn’t have encountered it

Creating Inspiration & Solutions

- draws inspiration from his 4 year old son

- firmly believes that there will be an end to suffering, and that we’re close to it

- what is needed is: more education, more communication, more acceptance

- many problems he sees are due to lack of these

- moving from a consumer mindset to a producer mindset

- able to be more creative when not worrying about surviving

- exposing people to experiences and creativity they might not have encountered before

- people want to be creators

- William is “a graduate of YouTube university”

Lessons from Fungi

- being humbled

- we are part of an interconnected whole, here to serve our function

- organisms, as they express their DNA, are telling their story

- we are more designed to utilise natural symbols as a language, than use auditory language

Psychedelic Experiences

- psychedelics can be a powerful tool just like any medicine, but it’s not for everyone

- his own experiences have brought understanding himself and the world around him

- for some people, this would be too unsettling

- communicating with ancient organisms as “elders”, looking to them for wisdom

- experiencing connection with yourself and the world around you at a deeper level

- Will didn’t feel like a man until he had these experiences, and after felt a greater level of social responsibility

Current Projects

- mushroom festival!

- a day in the life of William

- cordyceps production is booming

- discussion of uses for cordyceps

- William has written an ebook on growing cordeceps

Benefits of Cordyceps

- “DNA mushroom”

- protective of DNA

- almost all the ingredients for DNA and RNA synthesis, which our body normally spends a lot of energy on

- produces compound called cordycepin, which is so similar to ATP it can go into our mitochondria and provide energy on a cellular level

- really good for energy

- good for respiratory health

- effective antiretroviral

- powerful aphrodisiac for both women and men

- cordyceps militaris will grow on 32 species of insects; most other species will grow on only one species of insect

Adding Life Around You

- create homeostasis through symbiosis with local systems around you

- this includes food, people, other organisms

Looking To The Future

- technological systems that are beneficial for humans and the environment

- people becoming aware of and developing respect for nature, desiring to be closer

- seeing natural systems integrated into cities

- markets shifting away from junk, to accomodate growing desire for quality food and other items

- we’re moving towards something great

Jun 01 2018

1hr 2mins


Rank #17: 030 - Healthy Water And Permaculture With Dr. Ross Mars

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In this episode we have a doctor of environmental science known to some as Dr. Greywater. Ross Mars is an author, a teacher and has 20 years experience in the field of greywater and wastewater. He’s the Managing Director of Water Installations, a company based here in Perth, W.A.

He is also an accredited permaculture design teacher and teaches people how to teach permaculture.

Listen in as Ross shares a bit of his journey and we discuss: the development of permaculture, greywater systems, Australian native herbs and medicinal plants, and how we can use water more effectively in our environment.

This episode is a bit of an insight into how we use water here in Western Australia, but I think the principals can be utilised in any climate.

Check out Ross’ work at:

Show Notes

Formative Experiences & Background

- grew up with orchards & home-grown veggies

- learned a lot while weeding the garden

- first got into permaculture by tagging along with his wife to a course

- studied biology and teaching

- specialised in waste water for graduate research project

- worked on introducing accredited permaculture training to Western Australia

- discussion of permaculture courses

- Ross is “Dr Greywater”

- did lots of experiments & thesis on greywater

- discussion of greywater ecosystems

The Future of Permaculture

- Ross enjoys teaching others, especially those who go on to also teach people themselves

- seeing a huge move of people learning to live more sustainably

- vegetable seedlings are the most popular selling plant

- understanding that you do have options

- seeing change among mainstream farmers

Backing It Up With Science

- Ross is very keen to make sure what is being taught about permaculture is firmly based on science

- when wanting to use herbs medicinally, find out what you can about the herb being tested so as to use it safely

- much of current herb lore is anecdotal

- working to get studies undertaken to test these claims

- discussion of current testings

Water Filtration & Soil

- discussion about turning greywater into drinking water

- passing water through some kind of filter, for ex. soil

- if we get the soil right, we get the plants and the people healthy

- when we build soil, we can create biological filters for our water

- need to build water literacy among local populations

In 50 Years, Ross Would Like to See…

- desalination plants are not the way of the future

- stormwater harvesting is beginning to be practised in Western Australia

- government enforced grey water home systems

- needs to be more moves to reuse all water on gardens

What’s Happening Now?

- discussion of water filtration in Kalamunda (area in Western Australia)

- discussion of climate change in Australia, specifically the South West

- “transition movement”: arose out of permaculture course in England, also spreading in Australia now, utilising urban areas to grow food and live more sustainably

- turning chlorine pools into natural pools

- discussion of setting up proper safety measures so water is completely safe

Living a Probiotic Life

- planting a seed or cutting and watching it sprout

- safeguarding family, teaching kids to grow food

- great to see this happening in schools now

- become involved in teaching others what you know!

- books: Getting Started in Permaculture, The Basics of Permaculture Design, How To Permaculture Your Life

- 2 dvds: RAPS - Remote Area Power Supplies

May 27 2018



Rank #18: 029 - Fascinating Fungi And Radical Mycology With Peter McCoy

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In this episode we talk with Peter McCoy. He is most well known as one of the founders of Radical Mycology, a grassroots organisation and movement that teaches the many ways to work with fungi for personal, societal, and ecological resilience. He describes himself as an interdisciplinary, systems-oriented mycology educator.

Join us as we talk about traditional uses of fungi, myco-literacy, what fungi can teach us, and Peter shares a bit about his journey.

In 2016, Peter released the book Radical Mycology: A Treatise on Seeing & Working With Fungi. He is the lead cultivation expert for the Amazon Mycorenewal Project, and a mycology advisor to Open Source Ecology and Permaculture Magazine North America.

Apart from his work with fungi, he is also a community organiser, artist, musician, lecturer, and teacher. Peter’s daily practice centers on cultivating, researching, and foraging for new intersections between healthy human and fungal relations. He is available for consultation on mushroom cultivation and remediation design, site surveys, lectures, informal talks, and teaching assignments.

Check out all that Peter is up to:

Radical Mycology

Radical Mycology: The Book

Radical Mycology: A Treatise on Seeing & Working With Fungi

Mycologos School

And shoutout to the band Confiture… bringing funky tunes to ears near you…

Show Notes

Mycology As Activism

- came to see mycology as a huge piece of the puzzle to nature’s restoration

- wanted to actively contribute to earth’s betterment

- did some self-education as a young adult that broadened his worldview

- got involved in some projects which made him realise you can be part of making changes

- creating solutions and community, instead of basing identity on what you are against

- began to bring mycology up as a potential solution to current issues, not always received well

- found like-minded people and ideas began to evolve

- realised this was the piece of the puzzle he could contribute

- solutions that mycology creates fold into social issues as well as environmental issues

Mycology in Cultural Awareness

- discussion of fermentation & Sandor Katz

- mycology is unfamiliar and even somewhat feared in popular awareness

- Peter works to de-stigmatise fungi and show how great it is

- discussion of historical uses of fungi/mycology

- many approaches to mycology beyond food, ethno-mycology

Getting Educated!

- for Peter, mycology gives him access to new perspectives on many aspects of life

- it reminds him that there is still mysteries out there to discover

- most people don’t know much about fungi; one way Peter is working to address that through his book

- building community around mycology, to bring it into the cultural awareness at a social level

- has in mind for the future a much more structured form of education to bring deeper study of mycology to people

- “Radical Mycology 2.0” is coming

- mycology is not taught in schools, so there is a hole to fill in offering education

A New Way to See the World

- sense of connection that comes for many people, in learning the magic and mystery of fungi

- a whole new way of seeing the natural world

- teaching mycology through the the eyes of ecological awareness

- for Peter, sometimes the things that are least talked about are the most interesting, such as the benefits & deliciousness of probiotics

Ecological Remediation

- according to science, it seems likely that fungi were the first larger-celled structured organisms on earth (after bacteria)

- fungi are central to earth’s biology & uniquely powerful

- discussion of how fungi supports soil, animal, and plant life

- fungi are capable of breaking down many kinds of toxic substances that other organisms cannot

- in the long run, fungi will probably be able to break down almost all man-made substances

- this branch of research (micro-remediation) is very young, with not many fully realised examples, but there is so much room to explore

- this exploration is something that many people will be capable of doing eventually in their own backyards, and potentially make big discoveries

Fungi in Our Future

- in the further-off future (100, 200 years), possibly all man-made systems could be affected and improved by fungi

- fungi has a long shelf life, & makes an incredible building material

- discussion of growing mushrooms for common household & natural medicinal uses

Closing Thoughts

- fungi already influence your life in a million ways

- now is the perfect time: there is so much opportunity to get involved in cultivating fungi at this particular point in history


- Peter’s book is at publishing website:

- this coming October: Radical Mycology Convergence

- join the newsletter on any of their social media platforms

May 17 2018

1hr 8mins


Rank #19: 028 - Soil Health, Mindset And Integrity With Nicole Masters

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In this episode we talk with Nicole Masters of integrity soils. She is an expert in ecology and soil science with over 20 years experience. She advises farmers on how to improve the health of their land an ecosystems.

Nicole shares about how she went from wanting to be a great white shark researcher to an agroecologist. We talk soil health, worm compost, producer and consumer mindsets and integrity. This conversation gets in to the detail about soil, but we also cover the overarching idea that mindset changes everything. Nicole mentions one of the best ways to live a probiotic life is to support your local farmers.

Just a note that half way through the interview a cable decided to quit, so I had to re-record my side of the conversation from that point on… Luckily it was my side, not Nicole’s.

Check out what Nicole is doing by visiting her website:




Thanks again to Confiture for a sample of their funky jazz.

Check them out at:

Show Notes

Scientific Background

- Bachelor of Science (Ecology) at Otago University

- originally went to be a great white shark researcher

- study focus shifted from zoology to botany to soil

- light went on for her when she began to study soil

- this passion has now continued strongly for 20 years

Formative Experiences

- spent her early life in aircraft looking down at the earth

- the eruption of Mt St Helens put things in perspective for her, how powerful the earth is and how small we are

- saw a need to disrupt the current trend towards people living among their own man-made pollution

- willingness to be part of a conversation about what’s possible for transformation

- realised the mainstream farmers are the ones that she needed to be talking with, enter their worlds and make transformation profitable

Key Things to Know About Soil

- gastrointestinal system is very similar to the soil system

- the rhizosphere, or root interface with soil, is the most biodiverse system on the planet

- how do we support a very diverse ecosystem

- modern farming techniques are disturbing microbiology

- this depletes biodiversity and lowers nutritional value of food grown

- quorum sensing/quenching discussion

- sending out a little signal that tells biology to turn on a particular response

- plant can send a chemical signal asking for what nutrient it requires, and if the microbiome is intact it will send the plant that nutrient

Worms Farming

- the worm castings are the best part

- the perfect worm farm makes no leachate, if it’s making leachate you need more carbon in there

- most vermicast is bacterial dominated, which is the environment weeds prefer

- use white (soft) wood chips to make it more fungal friendly

- get liquid form by running water through a finished (fully processed) vermicast

- leachate is not good to use on plants, pour it back into the worm farm

Current Focus

- workshops in Montana on how to assess soil health/pasture quality

- addressing sodium deficiency around the world to improve nutrition, animal health, erosion

- working with crop producers to reduce nitrogen and herbicide use, while keeping equivalent yield and higher profit margin

- how do we identify what a limiting factor might be on a property?

- working with clients’ goals, what outcomes do they want to see from these changes?

- evidence is showing that applying herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides are altering plants’ physiology, making them more susceptible to pests and diseases

- discussion about nitrogen & compaction

Integrity Soils: What Does This Name Mean to You?

- integrity: describes something that is whole and complete

- resilient, complete soils that will stand up to pressure

- being trustworthy and above board in all business practices

- dealing with childhood & personal wounds so you are whole as a person

- a call to work at these aspects as you interact with others, and in your work

Lessons Learned from Mother Nature

- Nicole has developed a feel for soil over time, while being ready with facts to persuade the skeptical

- the interconnectedness of everything

- water movement through a landscape

- aligning more closely to how things would have been naturally

- shifting from feeling out of control to feeling happy, excited about working with nature and what might be possible

- see weeds as an indicator of something happening, an opportunity to address an imbalance, rather than something to be killed outright

- cover crops as a step into regenerative agriculture

Change for the Future

- voting with your dollars: buy clean foods, ring to let companies know you won’t buy non-clean food

- Nicole believes this is the way to make clean food production go mainstream

- producers respond to consumer demand

- being willing to pay a premium for nutrient-dense food, which you need less of to feed yourself

- conversation on these topics happening on every level

Closing Thoughts

- consider the “underground workforce”: how am I support the microbiology within my soil?

- refractometer is a good investment, quick key to checking nutrient density

- carbon is the currency of the planet, and our soil has been running low on it

- food actually does taste less sweet than it used to due to lack of soil nutrients

- make those greens sweet and tasty again, that’s how to get the younger generation excited about this

- “Dirt in your Skirt” podcast

- currently writing about doing triage on soil, Nicole’s step-by-step process

- - get the newsletter!

May 13 2018

1hr 9mins


Rank #20: 027 - Microbial Ecology Connects Us All: Microbiome Research With Jack Gilbert

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In this episode we explore the research that’s going on pertaining to the microbiome as we talk with Jack Gilbert. He is one of the leading scientists in the area of microbial ecology. If you have done any reading about the microbiome online, you’ve probably come across his name.

Jack has been involved in many research projects, and has published studies which relate to many areas of microbial ecology. He shares with us a bit of his story and we cover a lot of ground relating to all things microbial, but the theme that stood out to me is how we are all connected, how we need to steward our environment wherever we are, and how we need to use our brains to critically evaluate the information presented to us.

Jack does a great job communicating these concepts and ideas, and I really enjoyed chatting to him.

If you also get some value out of this show we’d appreciate if you’d take two minuets to give us a rating and review. This is a simple way of supporting us to keep doing what we’re doing what we’re doing.

If your business wants to partner with the Probiotic Life, we’re still looking for some strategic sponsorships. We’re also doing some more collaborations to get things moving, so if you’d like to collaborate, reach out and connect!

Here are some ways to find out more about Dr. Jack Gilbert:

Lab Website

Google Scholar


Show Notes

- faculty director of The Microbiome Centre

- professor at the Department of Surgery at the University of Chicago

- senior scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory

- co-author of Dirt Is Good (with Rob Knight)

- learned microbiology & physical chemistry in many different fields

- spent time in Antartica studying bacterial proteins

- got interested in understanding how microbes reacted & adapted to their environments in the world

- this became his new passion

- over the last ten years has become involved with human microbiome research

- came to view the human body is simply another ecosystem seeking equilibrium, much like the sea/soil/plants, and we can treat it as such

What Aspect of Research is Jack Excited About Currently?

- systems biology: viewing the world in a very connected way

- how do microbes affect everything else in their environment?

- capturing the complexity of these connections, so it can be predicted and adjusted

Gaps & Progress in Modern Research

- concept of “one health”, the health of humans and all ecosystems are intrinsically linked

- discussion of microbial environments in Amish and Hutterite communities

- what are the associations between people and their disease, and other issues?

- research is suggesting that consequences of severing ourselves from our environment could be much more severe than the risks of interacting with that environment

- interact with your environment while still using common sense, e.g. wash your hands after petting animals

- some authorities say they must give blanket statements regarding possible exposure to pathogens, in case of people not using common sense

- you may be saving lives by doing this, but what is the cost to people’s quality of life and potential to develop lifelong health complications?

- what product could be created to provide to people who don’t have access to a natural environment, to help their immune systems develop?

Making Changes

- for specialised information to become actionable to people who don’t know that field, it must be put in a form that people can understand

- Jack goes out and talks to many groups of people, because for change to happen, popular opinion needs to be swayed

- finding a balance between letting the public know scientists are working on solutions to help them, but discouraging them from taking the untested research into their own hands

Context is Everything

- in a public bathroom, hot soapy water for cleaning is fine, sterilising the floor does little to prevent someone catching infectious illness

- however, where someone is immunocompromised or with open wounds, e.g. a hospital, sterilisation is more beneficial

- gearing public statements of what the public should be doing are geared towards protecting the most vulnerable in our society; unfortunately, this could potentially have negative impact on those who are not so vulnerable

- listen to your doctor, be informed, and critically evaluate whatever you are told

Current Projects

- boosting children’s immune systems, immunology

- ways to make plants more resilient to stress and disease

- ways to negate use of fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides

- all these contribute to the “one health” mandate

Closing Thoughts

- examining the role by which the world around us can be leveraged to impact health positively

- being more engaged with the world around us, cultivating and interacting with a more biodiverse environment

- Jack’s book “Dirt Is Good” is a guide, with all the questions Jack’s ever been asked about how the microbiome relates to our health; the decisions we can make with the information we currently have

Apr 28 2018