When Hersh launched TTF, he committed to engaging fellow truth-seekers with diverse points of view, in pursuit of answers, and having some laughs in the process. He delivers - and so does Mark "Merriwether" Vorderbruggen, Ph.D.
What started out as a career in chemistry with a focus on natural products morphed into becoming an internationally-recognized expert in edible and medicinal plants. This in turn led “Merriwether” to realize that a lot of modern health issues is because the modern world doesn’t give our prehistoric bodies the mental and physical inputs we evolved to need. He now tries to lure people into including simple but effective caveman activities into their lives to give them back their ancestral strength. His background in medicinal chemistry gives him unique insight into the workings of our bodies, leading to his “Go Wild – Get Healthy” mantra.
Find out more about Merriwether and his Medicine Man Plant co:
Mark "Merriwether" Vorderbruggen on the Truth Tastes Funny podcast
[00:00:00] hersh: The funny thing about cavemen is that they're still walking the earth and they're a lot smarter than we give them credit for. This is my conversation with Mark "Merriwether" Vorderbruggen.
[00:00:48] hersh: I'm here with Mark "Merriwether" Vorderbruggen, PhD, chemist, and herbalist. And he's been kind enough to come on our show today. We're gonna talk about humans. We're gonna talk about about the world we live in and, and, and how we can human better. Maybe. Mark welcome to the show. Wonderful to have you.
[00:01:06] Thank you.
[00:01:06] Merriwether: Thank you for having me. And I love the fact that you say how we can human better, cuz that's what I'm all about,
[00:01:11] hersh: right on. Well, tell me your story. Let's go back as early as you can possibly remember. Ah, tell your story from the very, very beginning.
[00:01:21] Merriwether: Okay. I was born in central Minnesota. In a small farming community up there. My earliest memories are actually out collecting dandelion greens and other wild plants with my mom, my dad, my aunts, uncles, grandparents, things like that. My parents were children of the great depression. They're both in their late eighties now.
[00:01:40] And one of the ways the small farming communities got through that terrible time was through their knowledge of wild edible plants. And so we'd be out there to, to put things in a little more perspective while we were out there every day. So my older brother is just barely 10 months older than me. Yeah. And my younger brother is 13 months younger than me.
[00:02:01] hersh: So, so your parents weren't just picking berries?
[00:02:03] Merriwether: No, no, no, no, no. So they had three boys, all, you know, basically it's Irish triplets is what we call it. okay. But got it. Yeah. So they found if they took us out in the woods every day we would get worn out and they could have some peace.
[00:02:19] Okay. And so it was a way of expending our energy, but at the same time through the osmosis of what they were telling us while we were out there, we just learned all these wild edible and medicinal plants that, you know, people used for not just generations, but for tens of thousands of years. When you're born, if you're born a scientist, you know, you are born a scientist. So I knew from as early as I can remember, I was a scientist and my plan was to be an astronaut, so I was born in 68, I'm 54 years old, but at the time the tallest an astronaut could be at NASA was six, three. They couldn't make the, the space suits bigger than that.
[00:03:01] And I hit six, five before I entered high school. So it's like, damn, that's, that's not what I'm gonna do. So the next thing I thought, well, I, I love plants. I love what they can do for us. How about botany? I looked in a botany. You don't make any money as a botonist. so I decided chemistry and in particular, what I wanted to focus on was natural products and their medicinal properties.
[00:03:27] So my career path through college was to become a pharmaceutical scientist. So I got a master's in what they called professional chemistry from South Dakota state university. Then I got a master's in medicinal chemistry and a PhD in physical, organic chemistry from renselaer Polytechnic in upstate New York, a small science based school, actually one of the oldest schools in the nation but they focus purely on science and mathematics. We'll we'll throw mathematics in there too.
[00:03:56] hersh: Well, the closest I've come to any of those degrees was reading your bio. That was it. It's it's, it's chemistry. That's extent of my, of my scientific training. Just so you're aware of what you're dealing with.
[00:04:07] Merriwether: Okay. Not a problem, not a problem. So the plan was to, well, I focused on natural products and, and you know, the, the natural chemistry cuz what a lot of pharmaceutical chemists do is they look at the natural products and then figure out how they can tweak it to make better. So I laid the ground for that as a career path, then I graduated, ended up in Houston, Texas.
[00:04:29] And the oil industry said, said, Hey, you know what? It's in the early nineties then, or actually mid nineties. And they were on a kick to, to green, everything, to make everything environmentally friendly and said you have skills. No one else here has, so here's a ton of money to try and come up with green chemistry for the, the oil field.
[00:04:49] And it's like, Wow money. I've never had money before you have my attention, sir. and for the next 18 years, that's what I did. My first patent was on using cinnamon as corrosion inhibitor for equipment compared to the much more toxic compounds that they had been using at the time. My last few were actually, so without going into great detail, there's good sand and there's bad sand.
[00:05:16] And bad sand. Yeah. Can't be used for a lot of things cuz it crushes and breaks and does all sorts of stuff. So I came up with a way of self assembling, fake oyster shells on the surface of bad sand to turn it into good sand. So instead of shipping sand from, you know, very select sand deposits for use and construction and all these other things, cuz you need a good foundation.
[00:05:38] If you're gonna build a building we could take bad sand and turn it into good sand, which is pretty cool. Now as a chemist, the way to think of that is you are a cow. I produce the milk, the farmer takes the milk and sells the milk. I get a nice stall with some good hay in it. The farmer gets the nice house and the big truck and all that sort of stuff.
[00:05:56] So I don't make anything from the patents. That was my job was basically to produce patents for whoever I was working for, you know, the, the milk, right. That was what, you know, so the tradition is when you come up with a patent, the company gives you a silver dollar as payment for that patent.
[00:06:13] Right. Which I was smart enough to hold onto all those silver dollars. If you price silver dollars lately, that's, that's my end of the world stash there that's.
[00:06:22] hersh: Yeah, exactly. But that's not how, how how the private sector is supposed to really work in that you get a silver dollar for every patent. You pretty much gone.
[00:06:32] Somebody makes money on it. Yeah.
[00:06:34] Merriwether: But remember, they're paying for the labs. They're paying chemicals, theft. That's right. That was my job. Now at the same time I had a secret life. And so when I first moved to Texas back in 96 back in the early days of the internet, I was going, all right, Texas. I can finally go outside all year round.
[00:06:54] There's not eight feet of snow on the ground. And I started going online looking for places to go outdoor adventuring, cuz I love the outdoors and there really wasn't a good clearing house of fun things to do outside in Texas. So I made one created a blog and every weekend, I'd go off on some adventure and then I'd write, you know, all the details where I was and everything going on.
[00:07:15] And I saw these plants here. You can use this for that da, da da, you know, just, just in the course of that. You know, recording my adventures, mentioning some different edible and medicinal plants and mushrooms I was finding it, got to the point where people started contacting me and said, Hey, we're going camping next weekend. You wanna come with? And it's like, will there be beer there? Yeah. Yeah. There'll be beer. All right. I'm in, let's go. drove my wife nuts. Cuz she, you don't know where these people it's like they're going camping. That makes them good people. The woods is a very target poor if environment, if you've
[00:07:46] hersh: Not if you've seen movies like Halloween, You know, if you've seen any, if you've seen any, any horror movies, camping, doesn't make people good people.
[00:07:54] Merriwether: Ah, it's not the campers that are in trouble. It's the people around there. But again, right, six, five Mohawk people treat me with respect. So anyway, yeah, in 2008, I was contacted by an organization, the Houston Arboretum. It's a big nature park in the center of Houston. Okay. And they say, Hey, we hear you teach people wild edible, you know, plants, will you do a class for us? And I said, well, will I get beer? And they said, no, we, we can't give you beer, but we can give you money. And I said, oh, listen, I want you to know
[00:08:24] hersh: I get beer and I get a silver dollar and you don't have those things. I'm sorry. We're not gonna
[00:08:29] do business together.
[00:08:31] Merriwether: But anyway, 2008 fall of 2008, I do a forging class for the Houston arboreum spring of 2009. I do two classes. Then it became a monthly class up until COVID hit in you know, 2020. So for, you know, over a decade, I was doing there from there, it expanded all over Texas, you know, classes for museums and nature centers and nature, preserves and state parks and historic sites and all this sort of thing.
[00:09:00] And it just kind of exploded. From there I was contacted actually a number of different foraging instructors around the world, or sorry, around the nation were contacted by DK publishing and said, Hey, we wanna make idiot guide foraging. And would you be interested in writing it? And several of us said, yeah, a lot of 'em said no way in hell.
[00:09:19] The smart ones said no way in hell. So I passed the test. They picked me to be the writer. They gave me three months to write the book with 70 plants and detailed information pictures, all this sort of thing, and 30 recipes in three months. So I locked myself in a room wrote every night after my day job on the weekends, I was out taking pictures of plants, doing all this sort of thing.
[00:09:41] One of the nice things about Texas, though, the publisher wanted the book to cover all of north America. They weren't paying for travel. And in the three months time, there wasn't time to travel, but luckily, Texas has 14 different ecological zones we have as well. We basically, we have everything the rest of the country has. So that came out foraging, Texas, the website ended up being created. And my life is just a constant whirlwind of, of classes and everything.
[00:10:10] 2016 happens the oil price of oil plummets. Everyone was laid off the multi billion dollar company that I work for no longer exists. You know, we're talking like a $500 billion a year company gone. Yeah, that's, that's what it is. But then I moved into the consumer market, but from there I dabbled in different things, but finally, in the January, 2020 medicine man plant co, where I finally got to bring the ancient plants for modern health issues.
[00:10:44] But more than that, I build myself now like a professional caveman or a, a preacher of cavemanocity. My goal right. Is to. Help people incorporate caveman activities into their life because a lot of our modern health issues, diabetes, attention deficit disorder, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression are really due to the fact that our body no longer is in the world it evolved to survive in. We've done all sorts of things to the world that have made it more comfortable and convenient. But in doing so we lost some very important activities and actions and input into our body. And that has led to a lot of health issues.
[00:11:32] It's that what I really want to talk about.
[00:11:33] hersh: And, and me too, because this, this makes a lot of sense to me, especially now that , you know, I'm talking to more and more people about ways we can do better in the world.
[00:11:44] We're in today. This is the first conversation I'm having about how the environments we've created around ourselves essentially have taken us in maybe the wrong direction. I grew up in Miami beach, so I was, I was born and raised near the ocean. I lived for a long time in California. Now I'm living in central United States and I feel like something is off.
[00:12:07] Something is off and it's not snobbery. Like at first you think, oh, well, you're just, you're used to being on the coasts and New York and, and LA and Miami, but it's really the ocean. What I've. That I, that I am confused and I'm functional, but I'm confused. And dis dis discombobulated. Yeah. Disoriented away from the ocean.
[00:12:32] It affects my ability to really just think in a very natural and relaxed way. Go ahead, and continue on this. Okay. On this journey.
[00:12:44] Merriwether: All right. I'm gonna give you some choices here because there's lots of things we can talk about. Okay. We can talk about how going outside strengthens the immune system.
[00:12:52] We can talk about how walking on the uneven ground has all sorts of health benefits. We can talk about how throwing things that stuff has all sorts of health benefits. Okay. We can talk about how borrowing a cup of flour from your. Has all sorts of health benefits, cuz it all boils back to our caveman tribal ancestral evolutionary roots.
[00:13:13] hersh: Borrowing flour from a neighbor. Let's go a little deeper on that.
[00:13:17] Merriwether: Okay. There's a thing in your brain that says, if you do a favor for someone, that person is a friend, even if you don't know them, or even if they're an enemy, if an enemy comes to me, Hey, can I borrow your pencil before a test? Yeah. Okay. Here it causes a, a, a switch in your brain to put that person in the friend category. We are a tribal people. We are evolved to have a group around us, a close-knit. Basically 150 people is what they found. The brain can keep 150 people, the information of 150 people in our brain at a time, once you get beyond 150 people, right?
[00:13:57] You start to have stranger danger feelings, but 150 people. But right now, how many people really know 150 other people, you know, you're tangentially at work and so forth. But one of the key things is your neighbors. We have, I, I like to call them geographic friends, the people around us every day, we should be interacting with them.
[00:14:17] That's how we evolved. There's all sorts of health benefits, especially for the brain they've shown by interacting with people and a repeated basis strengthens the immune system, increases the dopamine and serotonin in your brain and all this sort of thing. So how does BWE flower? Like I said, if you don't know your neighbor, Someday you go, I really need to know the neighbors, go over, knock on there and say, Hey, I just, just to don't mean to bother you, but I, I, I started cooking. I need a cup of flour. Can you help me out? Do you have a cup of flour I can borrow, you know, and usually they'll go. Yeah, yeah, yeah, sure. I got flour or sugar or, or coffee, you know, something. And from that, now they go. I helped this person. I knew this person and by the way, I'm mark blah you know, I'm gonna eat the plants in your yard. Don't worry about it, you know, but you use that as the stepping stone. And then like a few days later, you swing by with some homemade cookies or some beers say, Hey, just, I just wanna let you know how much I appreciated you helping me out there. And if you ever need anything, let me know.
[00:15:16] And you just start doing that and you start building the connections. Let's say you have a, a, an older neighbor, you see them out mowing the lawn and you say, Hey, dude, you know, let me do this for you just as a, just as a nice thing that, you know, just as a, you know, here's a, here's a beer sit in the shade.
[00:15:33] Let me finish mowing the lawn for you. Yeah. Just because we need, you know, we're all in this planet together and you, but you use that giving and, and requesting to rewire the brain to say, this person is part of my tribe. Yeah, and it does great things in the neighborhood here in Houston. We have a problem with hurricanes and flooding.
[00:15:53] And so one of the things they've found that the neighborhoods where the neighbors know each other get through those events much easier with less stress and trauma than the neighborhoods where it's all brand new and no one knows each other. And yeah, it's just a nightmare.
[00:16:09] hersh: We live in a world where now we are striving to have thousands of followers or thousands of contacts. And we, but do we really trust any of them? And do any of them trust us or do we really know any of them? Do any of them know us? Celebrities are trying capitalize in many ways on their notoriety, by opening, only fans and cameo and all these apps that, that allow them to give their audience access that they don't really have, but it's, it's all fictional.
[00:16:41] So borrowing a cup of sugar is real. Yeah. And there's no risk saying to the elderly neighbor. Let me, let me finish mowing your lawn for you is, is a low risk. interaction because it establishes trust. There was a joke. My father used to tell it's looks like it's gonna rain.
[00:17:02] And this guy goes to his neighbor's house because he doesn't have an umbrella. As he's walking over there, he goes, you know what though? I don't know if Dave's gonna be so willing to lend me his umbrella. I don't know about asking for this umbrella. That's starting to thunder. And you know, intuitively Dave's already thought, you know, maybe Jimmy's coming over to get an umbrella.
[00:17:20] I know he doesn't have an umbrella and he gets his umbrella ready. But by the time Jimmy gets over to Dave's house, he's so worked up and Dave opens the door and he goes, Jimmy, how you doing? And Jimmy says, shove your umbrella up your ass. You know, we get ourselves in such a froth yeah. That we, that we, we don't accept the generosity of others. You know, that we're so wrapped up in what we think is a bigger picture.
[00:17:45] Mm. That we forget this small picture of the humanity. Yeah.
[00:17:50] Merriwether: And I tell people if, if your neighbor came to you asking for a cup of sugar or flour, would you treat them rudely, right? Would you get outta? No, you would be nice to them. That's how they're gonna treat you, you know, unless it's a really jerk of a neighbor, but even then you got a shot, you know, where, where
[00:18:06] hersh: Where do you think hatred and fear really come from?
[00:18:10] Merriwether: Ah, like what hatred comes from fear. So one of the things we did evolve is, you know, the whole concept of stranger danger. There's some really interesting studies that show that the foods we ate and still eat impart a certain odor on the tribe. And so if someone did not have that odor, they were not part of your tribe.
[00:18:35] And so they were viewed with suspicion because they were after the same resources that you were. And you were trying to protect you're 150 people that they're trying to protect their 150 people and clashes began.
[00:18:50] hersh: What about, what about elitism?
[00:18:52] Merriwether: Hmm. I've never really considered that. And from an evolutionary point of view, that really didn't come into play until we figured out agriculture and had a way of storing calories.
[00:19:03] At that point, once you could store calorie, Some people just kind of naturally gravitated to the role of being in charge of those storage. And that led to the whole, you know, layers of society. If you look at a lot of the still hunter gatherer groups that are around nowadays, there's still a lot more even keeled.
[00:19:25] hersh: Yeah. So it, maybe it's an extension of survival, you know, going back to that hatred and fear. They're afraid that if they don't hoard for themselves, other people are gonna, like, I'm just trying to look at the corporate and, and, this structure that we are not getting out of, that we're not getting free of ultimately not designed for our survival anyway, it's really designed for the survival of a very small group of, of people. So
[00:20:00] Merriwether: yeah, it's not, well, one could argue it is survival of the fittest, which is pretty much the history of every creature on the planet. Yeah, the going back, let, let's talk about hoarding here for a second.
[00:20:14] Yeah. And you mentioned the, the hoarding, the food. So others can't. right. Obesity and our craving of sugar and calories and carbohydrates, most of our evolutionary period, and we're still evolving. But most of that, right, we were on the edge of starvation. So those that evolved sensory, you know, nerves in their gut that said, Ooh, this food you're eating is high in calories.
[00:20:38] Eat as much of it as you can, because you don't know when you're gonna get this again. So just gorge yourself on. And that was a very critical part of survival way back then. Nowadays we have a pantry full of Doritos and girl scout cookies and all that sort of thing. So we eat a, a cookie and go, our brain is saying, oh, oh, oh, eat all of them.
[00:21:01] You, yeah, you gotta eat all these because you don't know when you're gonna get it again. And you know, if the brain doesn't understand, there's a whole cabinet of them just waiting there, calling my name. So
[00:21:11] hersh: we have, yeah. And we have a, a society. You know, committed on one level to educating to, or should be really committed to, depending on where, where in the culture you are, you find yourself committed to educating its youth, right?
[00:21:29] Educating people and teaching things like sharing and, and tolerance and yet here we are in 2022 struggling . ferociously with even the most basic civil
[00:21:42] Merriwether: community and respect, respect wired in, we are, we are fighting our fundamental programming and what's nice about us is we can do that.
[00:21:52] hersh: Yeah. Well, in, in the professional, caveman ethos, what, what are some, what are some things we can do that not only improve our, our. Physical wellbeing, but our emotional health and our worldview
[00:22:09] Merriwether: simplest thing, get outside, just walk around, especially in nature. It's 104 out here in Houston right now, but I spend as much time as possible out in the, you know, I got my standing desk out here.
[00:22:21] I got an ethernet cable going into the house, but there's different things I mentioned earlier how the immune system strengthen. So from mm-hmm life is about energy and how best to use the limited amount of energy a body has. You might have been inferred from economics and opportunity cost. If you buy one thing, you no longer have the resources to do something else.
[00:22:44] So this played a role in evolution. One thing they've shown that when we are in our home, whether it be a house, a cave, a TP, whatever, our immune system kind of ratchets down. mm-hmm and then when we go outside, it kicks in and goes on kind of a high, high alert, right? This is an energy thing. So because when you're outside your home, out in nature in your caveman body, that's when you're in a, a riskier environment, you're more likely to be injured, get some, you know, drink, some bad water, get called beaver fever, something like that.
[00:23:22] Pick up a disease from someone . And so by only having the immune system on high alert, when you're outside actually then allowed energy to be used elsewhere for all sorts of other things. So when they closed everything down and said, everyone had to stay inside when the whole COVID thing started, it's like, are you nuts?
[00:23:43] That's, that's, that's, you know, completely ignoring the vitamin D issue. Just getting outside, strengthens our immune system. That's how we evolved.
[00:23:53] hersh: Right? The, to me, the, the idea that you know, when it happened, it was still winter and here I was in the, in the Midwest I was just waiting for the weather to get better so that something was telling me, you know, just at least you need to be outside. You don't have to be outside 50, you know,, deep a space, right. With people, but you have to be outside mm-hmm you have to start to walk around and get into nature. Somehow. What was your reaction though? Scientifically, when you, when the pandemic struck.
[00:24:29] Merriwether: So from the scientific point of view, it was no surprise whatsoever.
[00:24:35] Okay. I mean, there's been a history of pandemic. And, you know, especially with international travel and, you know, crowding of slums and everything, there are some really nasty Petri dishes in the world. And anything that really becomes virulent there is not gonna stay there. So the initial thought was, ah, it's about time.
[00:24:58] You know, I, I remember reading and learning about the Spanish flu after world war. I, you know, the black plague, that was the one time when the population actually noticeably dipped on the planet. Things like that. So it wasn't much of a surprise, but at the same time, the response to it once, you know, once we started getting information on it and who was, who was in danger compared to how, you know, everything was reacting to it. It seemed like there's mm-hmm this doesn't make sense. You know, the, the, yeah, the four core morbidities, if you were overweight, high blood pressure, diabetic or very old, then you are at risk. Everyone else. I mean, we've seen it. It's not a, I'm not gonna say it's not an issue.
[00:25:47] There are some people, but it's the statistical point of view. If you're young, healthy, all that. It was sniffles. I mean, Fosse he's what, 78. He came down with COVID just last week. You haven't heard about him dying or anything like that, so, right. You know, it's, it's like, yeah. Over reaction
[00:26:06] hersh: We freak out because we have so little control. We freak out because we're not in control of our own lives. We require so much technology and so much formality in our infrastructure. We require so much infrastructure that we do panic because nature has become a threat to the average city dweller.
[00:26:31] Merriwether: Mm-hmm . We, yeah, you're, you're dead on there. No pun intended. I mean, when you have a complex system, like our modern life, it's very fragile. And for the most of people's lives, they're thinking this wonderful system of groceries showing up to the grocery store. So I don't have to go out and kill a pig in the wild and all this stuff.
[00:26:50] It will always be here and suddenly they were faced with the realization. This has been, you know, the last. 80 years or so on the planet has been so different than all the previous history of, you know, chaos and uncertainty. But like you said, we, we became accustomed to, and almost well we did, we expected that sort of lifestyle to go on uninterrupted.
[00:27:13] And so when that foundation was shook, it's just terror mm-hmm the, a lot of my places or a lot of the places that hosted me to teach during that time shut down. And I was getting hate mail from people. It's like, how can you not teach right now? It's the end of the world. We need to know this stuff cuz everything's and it's like a. I didn't shut me down the organization that hosts me, that supplies the insurance. So I can do these classes, you know, shut it down. So talk to them and b. You should have been studying this beforehand, you know, cuz now it's. Oh yeah. Yeah. So there's that. And then of course what you said about the fear of nature we're from what I've seen, we're basically on the third generation now. every snake is poisonous. Every, you know, plant is poison Ivy. Not only do they not know nature, they are terrified of it. Yeah. Well, at the same time they want to go out and play in it. If you let kids young kids go out and play in it, they're picking up sticks. They're picking up snake, you know, they're doing and the parents go, oh, don't do that.
[00:28:13] That's dangerous. That's poisonous. You. Or the parents don't have time to take the kids out into the nature or the city they're living in doesn't have any safe green spaces. So there's a, there's a huge disconnect from nature, which leads to a misunderstanding really of how nature works and an overestimate of the threats it poses.
[00:28:35] So all him crashing together. Lets
[00:28:38] hersh: yeah, let's talk about the environment for a second. And the threats we pose. To the environment. What's your take, what's your take both on what, what man's what man's actual capability is for destruction of the, of the planet and you know, through the, through, through climate change and, and just being bad custodians essentially of the earth and what what should we be doing?
[00:29:09] Merriwether: Okay, I'm gonna, I'm gonna be a little pandemic here. When you say destruction of the earth. Yeah. What do you mean? Are you talking? I'm not talking flaming cinder airless, or are we talking no longer ideal for what we believe is the ideal situation for humans?
[00:29:30] hersh: Yes, I'm, I'm really talking about livability and the the quality of life that we feel we want to have on this planet rather than, you know, Armageddon or global destruction or nuclear destruction, because I think we know what that yeah.
[00:29:46] We know what those capabilities are and we know what those results are. Yeah. I'm talking more about about. You know, some people will say, well, the responsibility of humans is X. It, the effect we can have is this the impact we can have is this and the preventative or reversal course we can take is this.
[00:30:05] And so your sense, your point of view,
[00:30:08] Merriwether: I'm gonna go a little Socratic here. Okay. So I'm gonna ask you to imagine something. Okay. And I want you to tell me how you picture this, the time of the dinosaurs. what, in your mind, when you picture, that was the world like back then?
[00:30:24] hersh: Yeah, my suspicion is that the lines at the DMV were much shorter probably.
[00:30:31] Yeah, I mean, obviously like I think I just, yeah, I just think of it as very natural and holistic and somewhat brutal from a human's point of view.
[00:30:44] Merriwether: Why? But well, ignoring the dinosaurs for a second, but just the, yeah. The environment itself,
[00:30:51] hersh: right? Well, I think I was thinking about the dinosaurs.
[00:30:54] I was thinking about you know, the, the survival of the fittest concept, but if there's one word that I could use, I would say natural in the most basic sense.
[00:31:07] Merriwether: Okay.
[00:31:08] hersh: Because the structure, the activity was all very natural and organic in that there was nobody who'd figured out yet how to corrupt the earth with anything more complicated I guess, or had had not yet been able to complicate the earth.
[00:31:31] Merriwether: Okay. So let's go with climate change and carbon dioxide. That's when you hear, you know, they're like carbon dioxide, carbon climate change the parts per million, how much carbon dioxide, molecules of carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere versus all the other molecules floating around right now.
[00:31:50] It just recently crossed over 400 parts per million. What do you think it was back in the dinosaur times?
[00:32:00] hersh: 0 2, 2 zero parts per
[00:32:03] Merriwether: 1700 parts per million, so right. You know, more than 10 times bigger. Yeah. Right. So huge amount. It was a green paradise. One of the things they've sound, they're looking at the satellite changes in the earth over time, and the plants themselves are actually loving what's going on.
[00:32:25] Places that hadn't been green for thousands of years are starting to green up again because plants love the carbon dioxide. They're taking that carbon dioxide. They're going, ah, I'm. Revealing any secrets here, but one of the very common things with the people that grow marijuana plants like in greenhouses and stuff is they have tanks of carbon dioxide that they just flood the, the, the greenhouse with, to up the amount of carbon dioxide, because they get much more lush plants that way.
[00:32:52] Right. So the correlation going back to the 17 yeah, 1700 parts per, per million of carbon dioxide, that was volcanoes mainly volcanoes. We still got volcanoes. the point I'm going to work well, let's let's let's let's it sounds like I'm going sideways here for a second. The people telling you about global warming, especially the big names, do things like build multiple mansions along the coast, which they're saying in 10 years will be flooded yet they're spending tens of millions of dollars on these big mansions. You would think if they earned that much money, they would be smart enough to go. Hmm, Iowa. I should live in Iowa. Right, but they're not. So what do they, are they foolish? Are they have that much money that they can just burn it? Most of them are big into charities and so forth, you know, bill gates runs to mind.
[00:33:49] So I mean, what, I there's a disconnect there mm-hmm yeah. So, and like right now, you know, there, I, I recently saw a thing that talked about the amount of materials needed to be mined. for the different types of power, you know, like coal oil, nuclear power, solar, hydro, or hydro hydroelectric wind. And the, especially when it comes to solar, it's a huge amount of materials that are required.
[00:34:19] And so there there's and like a number say Germany, you might have seen in the news Germany, they're in the process of firing up a bunch of coal burning power plants. Because they shut down their nuclear power plants because nuclear is bad. They were getting the gas from Russia and then Russia said, whohoo, we have.
[00:34:37] Right. You know? And so they were left with just going back to coal. So right.
[00:34:44] It, it, it, well, where this,
[00:34:46] hersh: where this takes me Mwrriwether is the thought. you know, nuclear because we know nuclear power may not be bad in and of itself. Nuclear war is bad. Yeah. So one of the questions that I had had been thinking and approaching our interview was why do human beings fuck everything up? like, why do. Why? What, what is it about, what is it about us that cuz yes, we can look at it from the point of view of we need to get outside more. We need to get more in touch with nature. We need to start maybe shifting our view of what we expect and imagine the earth should be, or ideally is in order to suit us.
[00:35:30] But why do we screw it up all the time? Why do we, why do we tend toward. Self, what feels like self destruction,
[00:35:40] Merriwether: because there's, what's the saying no raindrop feels responsible for the flood. Every human is trying to just take care of themselves, give the best life they can, you know, for their children and things like that.
[00:35:53] There's an evolutionary drive. It's not just humans. If you think a bottle of beer, what is beer? It is live yeast that ate the sugars from malted, you know, grain. And excreted alcohol to the point where they poisoned their environment to the point where the yeast could no longer live. So we, we are, every time we're cracking a beer, a bottle of wine, we are drinking a failed civilization that destroyed its own ecosystem.
[00:36:19] If you give rats a bunch of food, they breed uncontrollably, devour, all the. And then they crash same with deer. There's a wonderful book, the sand Sandhill Chronicles by Leopold. He was the founder of the Sierra club and he has a big chapter on there that when they killed the Grizzlies out in the west, in the Rockies, when they killed up the Grizzlies and the wolves, suddenly the deer population exploded and they stripped the mountains of plants.
[00:36:53] So it's, it's just this innate thing. When there are resources available, we go, ah, there are resources available. I am good. I am happy. Let's have some kids. Let's keep doing what we're doing, cuz apparently it's working until it's not. So it's not just humans. It's anyone that is given any creature that's given the resources, it needs to survive.
[00:37:16] It will exploit them to the tragic end. there's never been anything that has a self-limiting level on it.
[00:37:25] hersh: Right. So that's not encouraging, but it's, but it's, but it's the reality. That's
[00:37:32] Merriwether: why space travel and Mars and you know, all that stuff. We, we want to diversify where we're living to give us a better shot in my opinion.
[00:37:42] hersh: Yeah. So that we can hop on the next. Hop on the next wave, basically. And this is those resources up. This is going away. Let's hop on a, yeah.
[00:37:52] Merriwether: Asteroid mining, the amount of resources, the lithium and all the minerals you need for the batteries that we need for the electric cars that they wanna replace the gas cars with.
[00:38:01] I mean, the amount of, of that is going to be its own ecological disaster. So if we can get it from off the Earth, that helps kind of protect the Earth. Copper. Power lines.
[00:38:16] hersh: So, as a professional caveman, what are your priorities right now?
[00:38:23] Merriwether: Ah, supplying as much of the food for my family as I can, from my little plot of land. And basically teaching others to do that, how to interact with nature in a sustainable manner. One of the big things I teach is foraging ethics and, and I tell people if I feel like the Texas ecosystems are being decimated by foragers I'm shutting everything down. They've already seen this happen in places like California and New York where foraging became big. A lot of fancy restaurants like to offer, you know, only here only now dishes with foraged goods and you can, you know, show up at the back door of these restaurants with a grocery bag of green Briar and say 50 bucks.
[00:39:06] And they give you 50 bucks. No questions asked. So there's a big problem with wild plant rustling going. So trying to do it in a sustainable manner, but trying to reattach people to nature, going back to the health benefits, we didn't even talk about why it works great to walk on uneven ground and the whole serotonin and dopamine you get from being out in nature.
[00:39:28] So by getting them reconnected to nature and understanding the true value of nature, not just lip service. Yeah. I mean, kids, these days are being, you gotta love nature as they sit on their couch and play video games and are not actually allowed in nature if they're not allowed in nature. Yeah. They don't, if it's something that's supposed to be scary and poisonous screw that, you know
[00:39:49] hersh: yeah. So the self sufficiency in nature is another level, you know, you could say, oh, go look at something beautiful, go outside and look at something beautiful as though it's a painting. Mm-hmm . You know, that's one step, but, but the foraging aspect, the actual digging in there and doing something outside, that's connecting.
[00:40:12] Merriwether: Yep.
[00:40:12] hersh: That's the difference between observing nature and connecting with nature
[00:40:18] Merriwether: learning there's food here. There's medicine here. Yeah. Yeah. Once they start understanding it's not just a pretty picture. Like you ,said,it is a medicine cabinet and a pantry. Wow. Really? Yeah. And, and I always, and everything I do, I bring up the scientific research I chose. Yeah. These plants have proven to have this power.
[00:40:41] hersh: The new thinking outside the box is really getting outside the walls, you know, getting beyond the walls. To use a game of Thrones analogy. Go beyond the wall and it's been wonderful speaking with you. There's a lot more to talk about. You're right. And I hope we have a chance to talk again.