Friday the 13th
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Are you superstitious? Plan to stay in tonight?
Triskaidekaphobia is the irrational fear of the number 13. Friggatriskaidekaphobia is fear of Friday the 13th, specifically. In honor of this momentous occasion, we at The Health and Wellness Show will be exploring superstitions and strange beliefs, including ghosts, fairies and other types of magical thinking, from all over the world. Superstitious beliefs have a long, yet cloudy, history. Why did they originate and what purpose do they serve? Are humans hardwired for such senseless behaviors or is it all just programming? Grab your lucky rabbit's foot, throw some salt over your shoulder and knock on wood as you tune in to this week's show!

And stay tuned at the end of the show for Zoya's Pet Health Segment where the topic will be food fermentation and preservation for pets.

Running Time: 01:26:56

Download: MP3

Here's the transcript of the show:

Tiffany: Hello everyone and welcome to the Health & Wellness Show on the SOTT Radio Network. Today is Friday, October the 13th, 2017. I'm your host Tiffany and joining me in our virtual studio from all over the planet we only have a couple of people. {laughter} We have Doug and Erica. And we have Gaby in the chat. Elliot is away and so is Jonathan so we will see them when we see them.

Okay, so today in honour of Friday the 13th we thought we would do a show about superstitions. So Triskaidekaphobia is the irrational fear of the number 13 and Frigatriskaidekaphobia is fear of the day Friday the 13th specifically. So we're going to be talking about superstitions, strange beliefs, ghosts, faeries, other types of magical thinking from all over the world. We don't quite know how all of these superstitions came into being or what purpose they serve but we thought it would be a good idea since it is Friday the 13th, to talk about this stuff just to see if we can figure it out because it had to have come from something originally or are human beings just primed to believe weird things and make odd connections? What do you guys think?

Doug: Well, it's probably a mix of both actually I think. Maybe some of them probably started because there was some logic to it and then it all gets convoluted over the ages and they get passed on not quite in the original form and you end up with these weird ones. I can't think of anything specifically but there are some superstitions where it's kind of like, "Well maybe that actually did happen and there was a good reason for it at one point". Or the original one did and then got twisted or something. But I also think that people have a tendency towards magical thinking and I think that we all do to a certain extent.

Tiffany: Is it just because we're stupid? {laughter} That we just don't know how the world really works so we try to come up with these connections?

Erica: Or try to make sense of the unknown.

Doug: I think that's part of it for sure. I think especially in situations where you don't necessarily have a lot of time to reason things out, we fall back on more automatic types of behaviour which relies on very simple cause and effect type thinking. It makes me think of the scientist B.F. Skinner. He did a lot of animal torture type experiments. But one of the things he did was he had pigeons in a cage and there was food that came out at totally random time intervals and what he noticed was that the pigeons would start engaging in this really weird behaviour to try and get the food to come out. I think he saw what happened was that the bird just randomly spun around and then his food came out. So then all of a sudden it starts spinning around over and over and over again to try and get more food to come out. It's like a very simple cause and effect. "Oh, I spun around and then the food came out!"

Pigeons obviously don't have the ability for any kind of higher reasoning and thinking to themselves, "Well that's not really logical that that's what actually causing this". So they engage in this instinctive-level behaviour. So I think that some of these probably do come from that. It's like, "Well something bad happened to me on Friday the 13th therefore Friday the 13th is unlucky". Or maybe it happened two years in a row, or two consecutive Friday the 13ths. "Well that's bad. Friday the 13th is definitely bad." And it just goes on from there.

Tiffany: So I guess that humans aren't that different from pigeons. {laughter} Because if you picture the first people on earth, wherever it was that we came from or however it was that we got here, maybe they did do something, like they spun around and something good happened so they made that link and then they continued to spin around and expected something good to happen.

But then you also have...

Erica: Belief reinforcement.

Tiffany: Yeah. Or just things that you learn from looking at other people, like if your parents have a particular superstition or something that they do and then you take that on for yourself.

Erica: One of the interesting aspects too, is how certain superstitions run across cultures. So there's one where people save their fingernails and hair because they're afraid that somebody's going to do some black magic on them and that's also a very common superstition in Polynesia, that you would have to keep your hair and fingernails in a special container and then bury it because if a black magician or a kahuna got hold of it they could do you evil. But I wonder where that comes from? That it would be multiple places across the world before the internet.

Tiffany: Yeah, before the internet. I've heard of people saying things like that and they weren't Polynesian.

Doug: I've heard about it in other cultures as well. And I think in voodoo to, isn't it?

Tiffany: Yeah.

Erica: Well even voodoo dolls, right? Where they make a likeness and grab a strand of your hair and add it to it.

Tiffany: I think that in some cases it could just be a coincidence that you did something and something good or bad happens so you make that connection. But I think that in other cases there really was a cause and effect and the meaning of it got watered down where it just becomes this silly ritual that people do. But maybe originally it did have some significant meaning.

Erica: Can you give an example?

Tiffany: No I can't. {laughter}

Doug: Well one that perplexes me is the 'knock on wood'. You say something and you're like, "I don't want that to come true so I'm going to knock on wood and that negates it somehow."

Tiffany: Or even if you say something positive, like you expect something positive to happen or something good is happening to you, you say, "Blah, blah, blah, knock on wood". So I guess it's a way that you don't change your good luck?

Doug: Yeah.

Tiffany: But in the medieval period there were churches that claimed to have pieces of the cross that Jesus was crucified on and church officials would say that knocking on that wood, would bring good luck. So maybe that is its origination.

Doug: That makes a lot of sense. Our lord and saviour was killed on this cross so if you knock on it you're going to get good luck.

Tiffany: Yeah. It seems like it would be bad luck. What a horrible way to die! {laughter}

Doug: Yeah. I don't know.

Erica: But where's the fine line between it being a good luck practice and becoming a compulsive/obsessive behaviour? I think of the one when you're a kid, "step on a crack, break your mother's back" and then all of a sudden you're obsessively trying not to step on any cracks in the concrete.

Tiffany: Well I used to do that as a child but eventually I couldn't avoid all cracks and I saw that my mother's back never got broken.

Doug: I think that one probably just came up because it was a clever rhyme or not-so-clever rhyme really. It is a good question though. Where does the line between those kinds of things exist? If somebody does have OCD, they have a compulsion to follow certain rituals and to my understanding they're not necessarily common superstitions or anything. They might be just a series of behaviours that they kind of feel unable not to do. It's almost like it's such a strong compulsion. So it might originate in the same brain area but there's just a compulsion there that turns it into a disorder.

Generally you don't consider superstitious people to have some kind of psychological maladjustment. I guess some people do think that.

Tiffany: That depends on the depth of their superstitious beliefs.

Doug: But generally, a sports fan for example, who always wears a jersey on the day that their team is playing or something like that, because it's "good luck", I wonder if you actually queried them about it, if they 100% believe that there is some kind of luck conferred by them wearing the jersey or if they are just like, "Well you know, it's just a ritual, a fun thing to do".

Erica: Showing team spirit.

Doug: Yeah, exactly. Or athletes are notorious for being very superstitious and "During the playoffs I don't change my socks" or something like that. "It might wash the luck off."

Tiffany: Well we do have a clip of the 25 most popular superstitions from all around the world. So we can go ahead and play that.


Number 25-cannibalistic chewing gum in Turkey. In some parts of Turkey you may want to think twice before whipping out the chewing gum. There's a belief that if you're chewing gum at night it's actually rotting, dead flesh.

Number 24-groaning cheese for a newborn. You've probably heard of Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese or pepper jack cheese, but have you heard of groaning cheese? In medieval England expectant mothers made what they call the groaning cheese which was a large wheel of cheese that matured for nine months as the unborn baby grew. When the groaning time, or time of birth came, the whole family would celebrate by eating this cheese until nothing but the outer rind was left. The newborn would then be passed through the rind on christening day to be blessed with a long and prosperous life. What a cheesy superstition.

Number 23-the good luck horseshoe. Some people believe in order to bring good luck and to keep nightmares away you must hang a horseshoe in the bedroom or on a doorknob with its end pointing upwards. This belief stems from the fact that a horseshoe has seven holes which is considered to be a lucky number and is made if iron so it can supposedly ward off evil spirits that may haunt you in your dreams.

Number 22-Friday the 13th. Friday the 13th has been a source of superstition ever since the 19th century, though its origin is shrouded in speculations and theories its impact is quite evident. Many people will purposefully avoid doing anything significant like business meetings, socials, banquets or anything else due to the belief that the day is cursed and is a source of ill fortune.

Number 21-the curse of the opal stone. If your absolute favourite stone is the opal you're out of luck, literally, since this stone is said to bring bad luck to whoever wears it. The superstition stems from the best-selling novel Anne of Geierstein by Sir Walter Scott in 1829 where Lady Hermione was falsely accused of being a demon as she dies shortly after a drop of holy water accidentally falls on her opal jewelry and changes its colour. This book had such an effect on the image of the opal that shortly after its publication the opal market crashed and opal prices dropped by 50%.

Number 20-ringing of the bells. Have you ever wondered why bells are always associated with weddings and special occasions? As it turns out, bells are sounded during special occasions due to the wildly held belief that they'll frighten evil spirits away. This belief originated during Queen Elizabeth's reign for two reasons, to ask for prayers for the departed soul and to drive away the evil spirits who stood at the foot of the bed.

Number 19-bird poop equals riches. Don't worry, you read the title right. In Russia there's a belief that if a bird defecates on you, your car or your property, it's a good sign and it may bring you luck and riches. The more birds involved, the richer you'll be. So next time a bird poops on you, just count it all joy.

Number 18-old, new, borrowed, blue. This popular wedding tradition is said to have originated during the Victorian era and involves giving the bride various gifts. One is something old and represents continuity. Another is new and represents hope in the future. The third is borrowed and symbolizes borrowed happiness while the last is blue and is supposed to bring purity, love and fidelity.

Number 17-black cats, bad luck. Most people have heard the saying that if a black cat crosses your path it's bad luck. If you hadn't, well now you have. This superstition finds its origin in the middle ages due to the misconstrued belief that single women, usually elderly, who associated themselves with many cats were actually witches who could become cats themselves. Thus a black cat crossing your path could actually be a witch.

Number 16-the unlucky smoking triad. From the Crimean War through WWI it was considered bad luck among soldiers to light three cigarettes with one match. It was theorized that by the time the third cigarette was lit, a sniper would have had the time to have the soldier in his sights ready to make the kill. However, some believe that the superstition may have been invented by match tycoon to Ivar Kreuger to drum up more business.

Number 15-counting crows. No, I'm not referring to the '90s band. It's believed that the amount of crows in a murder had the ability to predict your fortune as exemplified by the phrase 'one's bad, two's luck, three's health, four's wealth, five sickness, six is death'. More than six however seems to be up to the person who's counting.

Number 14-jinxed birds. The wryneck or jinx or kia are a breed of birds that can twist their heads very liberally. A superstitious belief among the locals is that if this bird twists its head towards you, death is on the horizon.

Number 13-soul-capturing mirrors. Most people use mirrors every day which means, according to the superstition, most people are soulless. There's a superstition that states that looking into a mirror steals your soul. This helps explain why the evil queen uses a mirror to harm Snow White, why Narcissist was ensnared by his own reflection and why soulless vampires have no reflection. Think twice before you look into the bathroom mirror. You've been warned.

Number 12-fingers crossed for good luck. To cross one's fingers is a hand gesture commonly used for good luck which makes sense since it was used during ancient Christian persecution by believers to identify other believers as a sign of peace. Today however it has evolved to excuse the telling of white lies which may have its root in the belief that the power of the Christian cross may save a person from being sent to hell for telling a lie.

Number 11- the photographic soul cage. When photography was first invented in the early 19th century, people all over the world held the unfounded belief that taking someone's picture was akin to taking his soul. Thus, if an enemy was able to obtain a photograph of you he not only held your soul but also held the spiritual power over you.

Number 10-unlucky number 13. Not to be confused with Friday the 13th which is a superstition of the actual day but similar in nature, this superstition simply states that the number 13 is associated with bad luck. That's why many architects refused, and some still do, to design stairs that end with 13 steps or buildings that end with a 13th floor. But fear of the number 13 is so real to many people that an actual phobia has been created to describe it called triskaidekaphobia.

Number 9-when you wish upon a star. The superstition involving wishing on the first star you see in the evening is somewhat uncertain. However, Europeans believed that the gods would occasionally peer down and when they moved the sky a star would escape and fall down. The Greeks also believed that the stars were falling human souls and it was lucky to make a wish on them.

Number 8-opening an umbrella indoors. According to this superstition, if you open an umbrella indoors you are literally asking for bad luck to rain on you. One explanation comes from the days when umbrellas were used as protection from the sun. Opening one inside was an insult to the sun god who would then curse you with bad luck. Another theory states that an umbrella protects you against the storms of life so opening one inside your house insults the guardian spirits of your home which also protects you from the storms of life causing them to leave you unprotected.

Number 7-new broom, new house, bad luck. There are many superstitions associated with brooms. Heck, that could be a list all in itself. But there's one very curious and particular superstition that we want to caution you on. As the lore goes, you cannot sweep dirt out of a new house or apartment with a new broom unless you sweep something in first. If you don't sweep something in first then you'll be sweeping out your good luck. Don't sweep out your good luck.

Number 6-the luck rabbit's foot. To have this token as an unfortunate thing for the rabbit but a magnet of fortune for the wearer. According to superstition which can be traced as far back as the 7th century BC, the rabbit's supernatural luck could be exploited by taking the left hind foot of a rabbit that was shot or captured in a creepy cemetery on a full moon.

Number 5-knock on wood. Knocking on wood or simply saying 'knock on wood' after making a hopeful statement finds its roots in the idea that you're tempting fate by acknowledging your good fortune. It's believed that the expression comes from an ancient belief that good spirits lived in trees, so by knocking on something wooden a person was calling on the spirits for protection.

Number 4-breaking a mirror. We've already mentioned how mirrors are believed to be soul-sucking mystical items, which is bad enough. But what happens when you break these devices of misfortune? Well, seven years of bad luck of course. Some superstitious sources state that the trapped souls adversely influence your luck and here you thought you were doing them a favour. Nope. Make sure those suckers stay inside that mirror.

Number 3-god bless you. For many, saying 'god bless you' after someone sneezes is a gesture of politeness. However, the origin of such formality finds its roots in Pope Gregory the Great who would say it to people who sneezed during a bubonic plague and from the erroneous belief that the soul escapes the body during a sneeze and the heart momentarily stops. Therefore saying 'god bless you' is a way of welcoming the person back to life.

Number 2-four-leaf clover. Though the origin of wishing over a four-leaf clover is lost to antiquity, it has long been a symbol of good luck and fortune. It has also been used in some traditions for finding a husband or a wife. The way this works is by first finding a four-leaf clover. If you happen to find one you must then eat it. After this the luck powers will activate and the first person you come in contact with after the activation will be your future mate.

Number 1-itchy palms. There seems to be a lot of variations on this superstition but the idea of having an itchy palm generally refers to someone who's greedy or has an insatiable desire for money. Some people believe that if the right palm itches, you'll lose money while an itchy left palm means that money is coming your way. If both palms itch, you may want to see a doctor for that.

Tiffany: So there you have it folks.

Doug: That's our show.

Tiffany: And that's not even all of them. {laughter}

Doug: It did give an interesting explanation for the knock on wood though.

Tiffany: Yeah, I like that better than the Jesus wood thing.

Doug: Yeah.

Tiffany: Since we do know that trees actually have spirits. Science tells us that. {laughter} So that's not really a bad superstition to have, I suppose.

Doug: The one about the number of crows in a group made me think about ancient Rome and how they had all those signs and portents that they would do and animal sacrifice.

Tiffany: Reading the entrails.

Doug: Reading the entrails and all that kind of stuff. That was a very superstitious society. It makes me wonder where that came from. It's very interesting. If they saw birds flying, depending on the direction they were flying or how many were with them, the signs were absolutely everywhere and it was kind of an art form to be able to read them.

Tiffany: Well the crow thing made me think of an article that we read for the show about some dude in India who freaked out because a crow landed on his head a couple of times. He called his mother and he freaked out and his mother told him to go to a temple and light a candle and say some prayers and things. And then his brother came home and found him on the floor dead. They think that he may have poisoned himself, but that's a pretty extreme reaction to a crow landing on your head.

Doug: It just makes me wonder. Obviously this person was extremely superstitious. But to not have the peace of mind to say, "Let me wait and see what happens". Instead, it's just "No, it's hopeless. Suicide is the only answer." Just seems kind of extreme.

Tiffany: He must have had something going on before that.

Doug: I would think so.

Tiffany: And the one about the bird poop. {laughter} A bird pooped on my head and nothing good came of it at all. I didn't get rich. I just had to go home and wash my hair in disgust.

Doug: There was another one I read about too - stepping in dog poop.

Erica: Dog dirt they called it.

Doug: Yes, that's right. And if it's the right, you know what? I'm not going to remember which is which. But if it's right foot it might be good luck and left foot bad luck or it might be vice versa.

Tiffany: That's never good luck.

Doug: Well that's what I think too. That's already bad luck, to have stepped in dog poop.

Tiffany: Well I don't consider myself a very superstitious person but the one superstition that I do have - I have no idea why - is that I will never open an umbrella in the house.

Doug: Oh really?

Tiffany: Yeah. And I have no idea why except that I heard that's a superstition so I won't do it.

Doug: I pretty much do all of them fairly regularly. I would open an umbrella in the house to dry it off after using and I've never really had an issue with walking under ladders or never been freaked out by Friday the 13th or anything like that. But, in one of the articles we read it, most people have some extent of this magical thinking. They gave a hypothetical situation. If you were getting a jacket and you had the choice of either a jacket from a friend or a jacket that used to belong to a serial killer, despite that fact that both of these jackets had been thoroughly cleaned, which one are you going to take? And I thought, "Well of course I'm not going to take the one that belonged to the serial killer". But, why? What if it was a nicer jacket?

Erica: I've heard the same thing said about shoes. That you would not take the shoes of a dead man because you'd be walking in their shoes.

Doug: Yeah. It's weird because there are certain things that I probably would not do, despite the fact that there isn't necessarily a logical reason for rejecting them. You hear these superstitions and you think, "Well those are pretty stupid" and you don't really bother adhering to them, except for Tiff and the umbrella. But it seems like there certainly are things that you don't necessarily have any logical reason for doing but you will do them anyway, or not do them.

Tiffany: Well we have learned that things, especially water, hold a memory, crystals can hold memories of things, rocks perhaps.

Erica: Trees.

Tiffany: Trees. So I'm with you. I wouldn't take the serial killer's jacket either.

Doug: Yeah. That's the thing. I think a lot of these superstitions - just because we don't necessarily understand what's going on doesn't mean there's nothing going on. Another article that we read was talking about this whole thing about voodoo. Apparently there was a study done and people were asked to cut up a photo of one of their childhood heirlooms or something that meant a lot to them when they were a child. It was just a photo of it and they had to cut it into pieces. A lot of the participants were actually hesitant to do that. They didn't want to do it. There was some kind of emotional connection to that. Maybe it's just symbolic, cutting your ties or breaking the thing itself even though it's just an image. But who knows?

There is a long history of when people wanting to break ties with something, burning something. I knew a guy actually who, when he felt like he had gone through a learning process or had reached another stage of his life, he would always burn one of his old shirts. He would take his shirt and burn it. It was like a cleansing kind of thing to disconnect you from your past in some way. Jilted lovers burning photos of their ex-lovers or something like that, there is something to that. Whether or not there's any reality to it at all, at least it has some sort of ritual significance.

Erica: I have experienced that when there are people in your life who you feel are toxic and you want to break those energetic bonds or shards or whatever, to write their name on a piece of paper and bury it. I've done that.

Tiffany: And did it work?

Erica: It did work. But did it work because my belief system reinforced that? That something about doing that physical process did it on a mental plane?

Tiffany: Yeah. Or did you even need the physical process?

Erica: Yeah.

Tiffany: Because you already mentally are blocking this person out. So maybe the physical is just something to reinforce what happened to you mentally in order to block this person out.

Erica: And I have done that with burning things as well, things from your past that you want to let go of. So when I moved, I have a friend who is from Mexico and she said, "When you leave your old house you burn all the things that you don't want and then when you move into your new house" - I'm talking paper-wise, not your furniture and everything {laughter}.

Tiffany: Your old house, just set it on fire.

Erica: "So when you move to your new house you need to take ashes from the fire and bury it in the four corners of the house." So I didn't go that far. But I did take salt and put it in the four corners of the outside of the house, to bless the house. I have done that.

Tiffany: To bless it in what way though?

Erica: So bad spirits don't invade.

Tiffany: Is that what you were thinking when you were doing it? Were you thinking specifically about bad spirits?

Erica: No, not necessarily. Protection maybe, not from bad spirits. I don't know. Maybe I wasn't thinking, I was just doing it because someone told me to. {laughter}

Doug: Which is probably why a lot of people engage in these kinds of superstitious behaviours.

Erica: But I will say, with salt too, that my child used to have night terrors and it was suggested to me to put salt on the windows to keep the bad spirits away and it did work. It maybe made her feel better. Also sleeping with a rose quartz crystal underneath her pillow. And to this day she still sleeps with a rose quartz under her pillow. So maybe it gave her some sort of reassurance. She still has nightmares though, unfortunately. So I don't know.

Tiffany: In a lot of these cases you have to factor in the placebo effect. You're doing something, like you putting salt on the window, to make your daughter feel better, but you could have done an interpretive dance and maybe that would have made her feel better too. We don't really know.

One thing that always perplexed me, you have these 'god bless you' people {laughter} who, no matter where they are - like I can be in my office and I'll sneeze and then somebody waaaay on the other side will shout out "God bless you!" and I'm like "Whatever! I just sneezed lady! It's not a big deal." {laughter} But I always wondered why people said god bless you and he did give a little explanation in that clip about how they think that maybe your heart'll stop or something when you sneeze so they want to give you a little health blessing.

Doug: I don't know. With so many of these it just kind of reinforces the idea that maybe people weren't so smart back in the day when these things were happening. It's mindset.

Tiffany: But are we any smarter now? People still do those things.

Doug: Yeah, it's true. The whole "bless you" thing has just reached the point of being a convention. I could be wrong about this, but I don't think anybody is actually thinking that the soul is trying to escape when someone is sneezing. We've had enough experience when sneezing alone and there's nobody around to bless you. I think I can still say that I've got a soul. {laughter} Maybe not. Maybe it left. I don't know.

Tiffany: But the mirror thing was always very interesting to me because there was this game back when I was a kid, or an urban legend going around that you should never look into a mirror and say "Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary," that something bad will happen. But there has been folklore surrounding mirrors throughout history. Vampires can't see their reflection in the mirror, or Cinderella's stepmother casts a spell on her by using her magic mirror. 'Mirror, mirror on the wall'. And mirrors maybe can be a portal into another dimension or a way for spirits to cross from one realm into another one. So much of this is kind of woo-woo but so much of the world is woo-woo and there are paranormal activities that go on. So how much of this is true and how much of it isn't?

Doug: Yeah. Not that it necessarily lends credence to it, but Carlos Castaneda wrote about mirrors being portals into these other realms and that you had to be very careful with mirrors. There were certain things you could do with mirrors, I don't know if it was to travel the realms or to have denizens from the other side come through. But there is a lot of history. I guess mirrors are inherently spooky in certain contexts so maybe that's why. People just have an uneasy feeling around a mirror. I remember when I was a kid, when I got up at night I wouldn't look in mirrors.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Doug: I was freaked out. It was kind of like I didn't want to see something in the mirror that would freak me out. "I will not look in this mirror".

Tiffany: I've had freaked out feelings regarding mirrors before. And then there's that saying that you should never have a mirror face the door or have a mirror face your bed.

Erica: Well I'm in for some bad luck then.

Tiffany: Me too. {laughter}

Doug: Does that come from Feng Shui?

Tiffany: It might be Feng Shui.

Doug: I know they have a lot of rules regarding mirrors and many other things as well. A lot of people, particularly in the west, look on that as being just superstition in and of itself, that it's not just a system of arranging your living space for better energy or whatever, it is just nothing but superstition. But at the same time I think there might be some credence to it. I heard a talk just on the radio one time. They were interviewing a guy who was a Feng Shui practitioner and he said, "I know a lot of people are thinking that this is just nonsense and whatever, but when you walk into a room that has been properly set up in a Feng Shui manner, you won't necessarily notice it as in if you didn't know anything and you came into the room you'd be like, "Oh, this must be arranged in a very good way!" But you would just like the room and have the feeling that you wanted to stay there. There is this good energy flow in there and although it's nothing you would necessarily note on a conscious level, you would just like it. So it's hard to say. I've never actually had a situation where I can try being in a good Feng Shui room versus a bad Feng Shui room.

Erica: But I do think there is something to picking up energy in creepy places. You know what I'm saying? You go into someone's home and you just get a bad vibe. Is that Feng Shui or is that superstition? Or are you picking up something energetically? Are you sensitive to it? Maybe you just discount it or whatnot. But I definitely - and maybe I am superstitious - I have been in spaces where all I wanted to do was get out of there, that there was something really wrong. And that's why I carry my lucky crystal with me. {laughter}

Tiffany: I don't know if I can say that I've been in certain places. Maybe I just don't remember but definitely around certain people, I cannot wait to get away from them.

Doug: Yeah, certain company. I think that's true. This is why it's so often presented as you're either a rational person or you're an irrational person. You either recognize that there has to be evidence for everything that you do, which actually is impossible, nobody is actually like that, but that's kind of the idea. During the enlightenment that was the ideal person, a completely 100% rational person versus people who rely on things like superstitions or feelings or intuition or something like that.

I think that we have to realize that there is a lot more to knowing something than just logic and I think that one way that we get information is through whatever you want to call it, intuition, bodily awareness, something along those lines. Maybe that's where some of this thinking actually comes from. A black cat crosses your path and you get this bad feeling and there's no logical reason. It was just a cat. There's no logical reason why that should freak you out or something. But nonetheless you get an uneasy feeling from it.

The problem with that kind of thinking is that it is so prone to error. Maybe you're having a bad feeling because what you ate for dinner isn't really digesting so well {laughter} or something along those lines. It's very prone to error. But nonetheless I think we have to recognize that there are more ways of knowing than just reason.

Erica: Well another one is owls being a harbinger of death or bad things. I've seen owls and bad things haven't happened afterwards so is it being open to the possibility, it could be good and bad? Or then is it pattern recognition run amok where all of a sudden you see an owl and then you get in a car accident, you break your toe or whatever and all these things happen? Is it seeing the owl or is it everyday life?

Doug: It's a good question.

Tiffany: I forgot to mention at the beginning of the show, we do like phone calls every once in a while. So if you have some superstition that you follow, you can call in and let us know what it is. Maybe we can analyze you. Or you can put it in the chat. One of our chatters said that she or he, only has a superstition for the evil eye and they've had several incidents where the Nazerbee?...

Erica: Nazerbee. That's the picture in the show description that's glowing.

Tiffany: Oh, that thing.

Erica: Yes.

Tiffany: So what is the evil eye? Is it just giving somebody a dirty look or the stink eye or looking at them sideways? {laughter}

Doug: I don't know much about it to be perfectly honest. It wasn't something that really existed in Canadian culture so I had only ever heard of it through whatever countries I guess it was actually said to be a thing in. I don't actually know anything about it, and until I saw that Nazerbee I'd never known anything about it. I did hear from a friend who came from a country where the evil eye was a thing. People would talk about it and believed in it basically. Apparently there was a whole ritual set up around it where if somebody gave you the evil eye, there was almost like a prayer that was said over you to get rid of whatever the evil eye was doing as a way of counteracting it. So I think there are some very complicated rituals around it but I don't really know much about it.

Tiffany: Well apparently there is a writer named Colin Ross. He wrote a book about mental illness. I forget the name of it. But he's been doing some research on the energies emitted from the eye. So maybe he can give us some insights into this whole evil eye thing. So we have a clip from him. I'll go ahead and play it.

Colin Ross: I've been interested in the whole area of energy fields literally for decades but it's only in the last few years that I really boil it down to a level where, okay I've figured out now how this can be turned into a real science with actual numbers and actually get published in mainstream scientific journals. The first paper which hopefully will be the first of a long series, has been accepted and has been published in one of the journals of the American Anthropological Association. It's called Anthropology of Consciousness. It's gone through the normal peer review kind of scientific analysis process.

It's presenting actual data from having the electrode just in front of my eye and the goggles that are insulated with tin foil to keep out the background noise and it's comparing that signal, which is this far away from my eyes and it's not making physical contact with my eyelids or anything, to another electrode that's just on my forehead. So it's normal brainwave, electrode EEG type analysis and it's showing the difference between, in the different frequency bands which starts off at a low which is delta then there's theta and alpha and beta - those are just different frequency levels - and the amplitude is how strong the signal is, how big it looks on the screen when you look at the wave. The amplitude is different depending on whether your eyes are open or closed, both here and in the eyebeam. The differences aren't exactly the same.

So the properties of the eyebeam are a little different from the properties of the field coming out through your skull and the properties here would be different from back here, so that's not unusual. What is shows is, first of all, there is a signal. You can pick it up. You can measure it scientifically. It's hard numbers. And it's physiologically active. It's not just some sort of noise. It's actually varying with the state of your brain as the general signal coming through your skull does.

So this is step number one in a whole series of projects that I want to try and initiate. It's all about the sense of being stared at, the idea that "I feel somebody staring at me, I turn around, I look right at them, they look right at me, we share a look of recognition". And everybody, almost, has had that experience. According to western science though, absolutely impossible. It's just random coincidence. No energy of any kind is allowed to come out of your eye.

Western science is absolutely locked down on this because there's two theories of vision. One is the theory of intromission where light goes into your eye, hits your retina, goes back into your brain which obviously is true and obviously is going on. The other is the theory of extromission which goes way back into the ancient world, and that is that some kind of energy comes out of your eye and interacts with the outside world and that's what disallowed.

So since that's not allowed, there's no possibility of picking up somebody staring at you. I basically said to myself, "Wait a minute. Number one, I've had the experience. Lots of people have had the experience. It sure seems real." And then thinking, "Well what kind of energy could that be?" Well I figured out there is a type of energy that does come out through your skull. That's your brainwaves.

So if your brainwaves come out through your skull, why on earth would they not come out through your eye? Of course they would! And since they don't have to come out through your skull, they're likely to be a little bit stronger just because your skull is going to absorb some of the signal. Maybe because of the shape of your skull, maybe because there's this big nerve cable there, your optic nerve, and maybe because of conscious attention and focusing, for all those reasons, maybe the signal's a little stronger, which it turns out it is. At very low frequencies, such as 0 to 60 Hertz (Hertz is one cycle per second), which is the level that brain waves are measured at, down at that ELF level, the signal doesn't drop off with distance at all. In fact at a 1,000 kilometers, there's literally very little drop off in the signal.

So it's absolutely scientifically possible that this energy could go out into the world quite a long distance, interact with things out there in a way that can be measured. And when you think of it for a second, "Well, wait a minute! If an astronaut on the moon can maintain radio communication with the earth, why the heck can't your brainwaves go 30 feet out in the world and be felt by somebody else?" So as soon as you switch it out of the mystical, outside science, paranormal compartment into the "Hold on, this is just another electromagnetic signal" - it's kind of like a cell phone signal - it becomes normal, scientific, testable, measurable.

So then what I want to do from here is talk about it philosophically. So in an anthropology paper I talk about "Here's a nice example of something that's in anthropology as a belief and we study how it's transmitted in different cultures and the different forms it takes in different cultures and all the superstitions about it but we assume there's no reality at the core of it." Actually in fact there is and now we can do this series of experiments and find out 'is it possible to have a really sensitive electrode 30 feet away that can tell when I'm staring at it?' which I guarantee it will be.

A bunch of electrical engineers at the University of Surrey in England already have published papers where they're taking an EKG from three feet away, an absolutely normal one that you would see in a hospital. And once you can do it three feet away, you just have to get a little bit more sensitive software and electrode and you do it six feet away. If you can do it six feet away, you can do it 20 feet away. If you can do it with a heart signal, you can do it with a brain signal.

This would just be one example of many, many, many beliefs of primitive cultures, superstitious beliefs, that science has discarded. Hey wait a minute! There might be something to this. Maybe if there's a bad energy in a rock, okay that doesn't mean that the rock's going to jump out and beat you up, but maybe the electromagnetic field that comes out of the rock can actually be sensed and picked up by a person. Maybe talking about the earth mother isn't just superstition. Maybe the electromagnetic field of the whole earth is part of the environment that we've evolved within for a billion years. Maybe actually being in touch with nature literally means being plugged into the electromagnetic field of the earth. Maybe when we're out of touch with nature we've actually gotten disconnected. We're so surrounded by electromagnetic pollution in cities that there's literally a physics unplugging from the electromagnetic field of the earth and maybe that results in our feeling empty and spiritually disconnected.

So instead of just being a debate in philosophy, this now becomes something you could actually study because you could measure the electromagnetic field of the whole body in a city environment and then in Sedona, Arizona or some sacred ground of the Indians and see if the electromagnetic field of the body actually change and adjust to the field of the surrounding environment. So that's the anthropology side of it.

My patent application is - which is already in process and is up on the US patent office web page - if you have an electrode over here, whether it's five feet or 20 feet, and it's sensing the general field that comes out through your skull, and then if I turn and look directly at the electrode, if the software can sense the difference in signal because the eyebeam signal's a little stronger, as long as there's enough of a gap and the software is sensitive enough, that's an on/off switch because the software will be able to tell when you are looking at it and when you aren't looking at it. Once that's developed, that switch could be connected to any electrical device on the planet.

So here we have a primitive superstition that's impossible scientifically. People think they can tell somebody's staring at them. We just laugh it off as scientists. I've turned that into just like a clapper light. Instead of sound, it's an electromagnetic signal which is absolutely no different from going jeeerrrpp when your garage door opens or when somebody answers the phone on the other side of the country. It's absolutely scientific. So that's the number one paper in this series of steps.

Erica: Jeeerrppp. Make phone call. {laughter}

Doug: That's very interesting.

Tiffany: Yeah. When he talked about the disconnection from the earth's energies or the earth's magnetic fields, maybe that can be an explanation for why, historically, people seem to be more superstitious than they are now. Maybe they could sense things that we can't sense now because of all of our modern technology.

Doug: That's interesting. I hadn't thought about that. It's like the whole folklore around the evil eye was because they were actually able to sense eyebeams.

Tiffany: But I think depending upon your sensitivity, sometimes I could feel when people were staring at me and I wasn't even facing them. It's not necessarily that they are sending evil rays my way. Sometimes it could be a good thing too, like when you look at somebody across the room and you feel like you make some connection with them. A lot of people think of that in a romantic sense but it could just be a friend that you're looking at and you kind of smile with your eyes because you're both thinking the same thing.

Erica: Non-verbal communication.

Tiffany: Yeah. But that also makes me think of people who have more pronounced psychic abilities. There's one study that said people in general, even if they're not psychic, can, not necessarily predict, but sense that something might happen. Sometimes they can predict up to ten second before it does happen. So maybe all of us do have that ability and in some people it's just more pronounced than in other people.

Doug: It's interesting because there was another study done where they looked at a whole bunch of different studies that had been done on precognition from a physiological perspective. I think they were doing galvanic skin response and what they found is that the body actually was able to predict a couple of second before, when something was going to happen. So maybe our bodies are capable of having some level of precognition but it just doesn't get into our conscious mind. So it's not that you necessarily think, "Oh my god, this is going to happen!" It's more just like the body knows and can maybe get out of the way of a falling picture frame or something like that.

Sometimes people's reaction times on things can be pretty incredible a lot of the time so it might actually help to explain that. But maybe it's just something that doesn't reach our conscious mind, whether it's just not fast enough or we're just not aware of our bodily sensations enough to actually tap into it.

Erica: That kind of goes back to what we shared on the amygdala hijack show. I shared the story of the man who jumped into the river to save the child. The mom wasn't screaming or anything. It was just something that he did instinctively. So I'm wondering if that's the same kind of thing, the energy just overriding any sort of conscious thought about it, just reacting. I feel like that happens a lot when you're doing something like driving and all of a sudden you swerve out of the way and it happens so fast and you realize there was a car in your lane or whatever it was, but that your body sensed the imminent approach of the car before your conscious mind could have done anything. Have you guys had that experience?

Tiffany: Yeah and there have been some studies where they say that there's no way that people's reaction times can be so fast considering how these signals have to travel from one neuron, cross the synapse and go to another neuron. How could you possibly respond that fast? But if you consider that the whole collagen network in our bodies is another nervous system, maybe we have something that's even faster than the nervous system that we traditionally think of, like the brain and the spinal cord.

Erica: And that's kind of like the heart show we did. It's more than just a pump.

Tiffany: And that can also explain why there are some people who are more in touch with energies, like psychics or people who see ghosts or people who see fairies because a lot of people still believe in ghosts. I think one paper that we read said that over half of the people in America believe in ghosts.

Doug: There was one in the UK as well that was saying that belief in ghosts is actually increasing. It's hard to say. Those things can be really influenced by media and stuff. I know those ghost hunter shows have been very popular in the last 10 years or so. So it could just be something like that. Even back in my day with the X-Files...

Erica: Oh, I loved that show! {laughter}

Doug: But it wouldn't surprise me if they said, "Belief in UFOs is down". Well yeah, X-Files isn't on the air anymore. That kind of media attention can really affect people in some way.

Tiffany: You have to think that it's not that these shows are necessarily influencing people - which they do - but the fact that these beliefs are there, influence the fact that the show got made in the first place.

Erica: And the content in the show and that it went on for nine years or something.

Tiffany: But I don't think that I've ever seen a ghost. I had a hallucination but it wasn't a ghost. I was half asleep and really worried and I woke up and I thought I was talking to my mother and she wasn't there. But I didn't see her. I don't think I've ever seen a ghost. I had a weird thing happen to me that was strange. My brother was about to graduate high school and my mother and I were ironing his graduation robe and we hung it on a mirror that was on my bedroom closet door.

Erica: Facing your bed.

Tiffany: No, it wasn't facing the bed. And we left the room and we came back in and the robe was on the bed. We hung it back up and we went out again and we came back and the robe was back on the bed.

Doug: Whoa!

Tiffany: But I did used to have a lot of nightmares about that closet where the mirror was hung on the wall. I had a lot of nightmares about that house in particular. But my mother lived in that same house when she was a kid and she said that there were some strange things going on in that house.

Erica: I've never seen a ghost, actually seen it with my eyes but many years ago when my mom died, I was at her house cleaning out her house and she had this big wind chime, a really large wind chime and there was no wind. It was still outside. Then all of a sudden it started clanking and it wasn't like soft. It was really, really clanking loudly. And then all of a sudden it stopped and there was no wind. Of course when you're grieving the loss of a loved one, it was definitely like, "Oh she was there," she was like, "I'm here. Take care and clean the house out or whatever." But I would say that's the closest I've ever gotten to a ghost where I actually physically felt her presence and then the reaffirming of the chimes. And I still have that wind chime and it has never done that since. So that's my ghost story.

Doug: Well I've never seen a ghost either. I've had a similar experience to what you said Tiff. I just woke up out of sleep when I was very young - I don't remember how old I was - and I thought there was a person standing there and I thought it was my mom and I asked her if I could have a cookie. {laughter} Then she kind of faded and I thought "Oh, weird". But thinking back on it, I was just half asleep so it probably wasn't any high strangeness, let's say.

But I did have a friend who had a couple of experiences with ghosts and the funny thing was that he was pretty adamant that they didn't exist. Yet he seemed to be the one who would have these experiences. When we were teenagers and were walking through the graveyard at one point, which is something that teenagers tend to do, and he came to a sudden stop and looked up and down and went, "Hmmm, that's very odd" and then walked around the space that was in front of him and kept walking. I asked, "What was that?" He said, "I don't know. There was just some kind of weird, fuzzy, shimmering thing just there and I didn't want to walk through it so I walked around it." The funny thing was that he let his girlfriend walk through it. {laughter} He didn't say anything to her. He just avoided it himself. True love. {laughter}

Tiffany: There have been loads of stories about people who have lost someone close to them and the person comes back and they can sense them in some way or maybe they've seen them or had a conversation with them after they passed away. So I don't put that outside the realm of possibility. I've never seen a fairy though. Faeries is another thing that is a pretty prominent belief from around the world. Apparently people in Iceland are really into faeries. They say that the faeries live in rocks and if they're building something, they'll have some special people come in and decide whether there's fairies in the rock and whether they should move it or not.

Erica: There's also the myth of the faery ring. If you're in a field and there's a circle of mushrooms, don't fall down - mainly for men - get your head stuck in the faery ring because they'll whisk you away.

Doug: To faeryland?

Erica: Yeah. And the whole idea of faery tales.

Doug: I don't know about faeries. Again, I guess it's just that I didn't have it in my culture growing up, but the whole faery thing seems pretty silly to me. There is also the perspective of, was it Jacques Vallee, who was talking about the similarities between abduction phenomenon and old faery stories from a couple of centuries ago. So it might just be that there is a certain high strangeness that exists and has existed for a very long time and back in the day people used to interpret it as faeries whereas in this day and age people interpret it as aliens or something along those lines.

Tiffany: Well maybe all these superstitions and strange beliefs and magical thoughts, are they a way to help us have some kind of control over our environment or to give us some kind of assurance during times where things are chaotic and we don't really know what's going on? They must serve some kind of purpose and that's my theory for the reason why we have these thoughts.

Doug: Well there was a study done. I can't remember the nature of the study, but they found that as people felt less control over their lives, it was more likely that they would have this superstitious kind of mindset. So I definitely think there's something to it. The same thing, to a certain extent, could be said about religion as well, although I think a lot of the appeal of religion comes from the community and having people have your back, belonging to an in-group kind of thing. Whereas superstition doesn't really have that. But it's still that same kind of belief of some sort of order. No matter who chaotic everything gets, there is a certain level of order to things and there is a certain level of control that you have by adhering to these kind of rituals, in a way.

Tiffany: So I don't know. Have we gotten to the bottom of it?

Erica: No.

Doug: I guess everybody is superstitious even if they don't think they are and that's it. The bottom. {laughter}

Tiffany: That's the bottom. I think that's our show. I hope it was enlightening, a little bit, although we didn't solve any problems.

Erica: We did have a few chatters share some of their - I don't know if you would even call them superstitions. One chatter did say that they always pick up money from places that they want to revisit as a way of keeping a tie to that place. Another said they saved rocks from the places that they visit. That's kind of interesting too, and even with the money thing. I shared on the chat that I always pick up pennies and they don't have to be heads up and I have a lot of pennies.

But sometimes I just wonder if it's reinforcing that you're paying attention. I don't know. Maybe it's just a silly habit that I have. I just shared one with Tiffany. 'Find a penny, pick it up, all the day you'll have good luck and then give it to your friend then your luck will never end.'

Doug: You must be the luckiest person ever. {laughter}

Tiffany: Not really.

Erica: And then maybe I'll go throw them all in a wishing well and hope for world peace.

Doug: Do you ever throw a penny into a well or a fountain and make a wish?

Erica: I do. And I actually - total disclosure here - I throw seven pennies into a wishing well because seven is my lucky number. But I don't ever ask for anything in particular. It's more 'protect my family, protect my loved ones', whatever.

Tiffany: That's asking a lot. {laughter}

Erica: I know.

Doug: If you just wish for world peace.

Tiffany: That's what I do when I blow out my birthday candles though it never works.

Doug: It might just be too much to ask.

Erica: But going back to the thing with the rocks and crystals, why do you think people do that?

Tiffany: It gives them comfort?

Doug: I think that, particularly with crystals, but even with rocks, there is maybe a certain energy inherent to them, something that isn't necessarily immediately detectable but that there's something there. I remember I had a friend who was very sensitive to energies and things like that and she could actually hold onto objects or rocks or crystals or something like that and she said that there was as many personalities in these things as there are in people. I've read other instances where people said the same thing about trees. I was reading a book by a Qi Gong master at one point and he said that trees all have very distinct personalities as well and there are some Qi Gong exercises that you can do with trees but you need to find the right one. You can't just randomly go up to a tree because some of them are going to be open and some of them are going to be much more closed and some of them don't like people, etc., etc. I imagine it's the same case with rocks or crystals or something like that.

Maybe certain people are not necessarily consciously aware of it but they get a good comfortable feeling from a particular rock and "Oh, I want to have that in my house".

Erica: I agree. And also fond memories of people and things, almost like a talisman, people who wear crystals or certain talismans as good luck, protection.

Tiffany: I do think there's something to it.

Erica: And I do believe in faeries, by the way. {laughter}

Tiffany: I just don't know why, any scientific reason why some of these things are true or why so many people around the world do certain things.

Doug: I think a lot of times people who will do something superstitious and say, "Well I don't really believe it, but just in case." I think a lot of the times it's like, "I could walk under this ladder and it would be shorter than walking around it but I don't want to tempt fate so I'm just going to do it. I don't believe it." I sometimes do that.

Erica: I feel that way about the umbrella. I really don't practice not opening the umbrella in the house.

Tiffany: Well maybe you should.

Doug: You do practice that or you don't?

Erica: No, I do not.

Tiffany: You should.

Erica: But I also don't hang out in graveyards at night either.

Tiffany: Well should we go to the pet segment and then come back and wrap it up?

Doug: Sounds good.

Tiffany: Okay. So this pet segment is about fermenting foods for pets.

Zoya: Hello and welcome to the pet health segment of the Health and Wellness Show. My name is Zoya and today I would like to talk about nutrition again, particularly about species-appropriate raw food diets for pets. Although feeding your pet raw seems logical, after all animals in nature catch their prey and eat it raw, many veterinarians label raw foods diets as dangerous because it exposes your pet to many dangerous bacteria. In fact, there is an ongoing defamation campaign against these kind of diets and many pet owners are confused.

So in this segment, I would like to share with you an interview with Dr. Karen Becker that she conducted with Roxanne Stone, vice president of research and development for the company Answers Pet Food where they talk about food fermentation and preservation for pets because raw food fermentation appears to be a perfect solution for those who are worried about feeding their pets raw. Well listen up and have a great weekend.

Dr. Becker: And next are my wonderful guests, talking about how they're doing innovative creations for managing potential pathogens in the pet food industry is Ms. Roxanne Stone. Hi Roxanne. Thanks for joining me.

Roxanne: Thanks for having me Karen. Great to be here.

DB: So Roxanne works for a great pet food company called Answers. Roxanne is VP of research and development. I know you have your fingers in a lot, literally, in a lot that goes on at Answers, but you have a background in food safety technology. I know that you are passionate about all things fermentation.

Roxanne: I am.

DB: So first of all talk a little bit about your background then let's talk a little bit about Answers because I know that you are of course intimately involved, as a family, and then we'll talk about this innovative technology that you're using. So let's start with your background as a scientist.

Roxanne: Certainly. Well as you mentioned, I am one of the family owners in Answers Pet Food and I am responsible for quite a few things in the company like sourcing, formulation, research and development and of course, one of the most important aspects, quality control or quality assurance. I received both my bachelors degree and a masters degree in nutrition and food science from Utah State University in the mid-to-late nineties. I worked for 16 years as a food scientist in many facets of the food industry including quality control and food tasting until I joined my family to start Answers in 2009.

DB: So great. And you know what's wonderful? I don't know all of your family but I know the family members involved with Answers and it really is a family project. It's a labour of love in that regard. You literally have a family dynamic within that pet food which I really, really love. But you bring to the table this unique vantage point from food safety.

So of course, like all fresh foods in the industry, I don't want to say we're being singled out but certainly fresh food manufacturers have to do incredible due diligence in making sure that their products are safe. We have options within the food industry. Some of them are more acceptable than others. So talk to me about how you and your family ended up using the particular control measures that you selected.

Roxanne: Absolutely. So as you mentioned, we selected fermentation as the methodology to control bad bacteria in raw food. Being a raw food manufacturer, it's difficult. You want to use a method that's going to keep the food as raw and fresh and in a living state as much as possible. So fermentation was the perfect fit and it's threefold really, why we chose it. The first reason being it is absolutely the safest method for our pets by far, in my opinion. And it is the most nutritious way to preserve food. And third, it really honestly is the only method that absolutely keeps the food safe from point of process all the way through the entire life cycle of the food, right into your pet consuming it.

So it was a no-brainer for us. The fermentation and food preservation has been around since the inception of humans on earth. This has the longest history of safety and efficacy that we know of. And with our carnivores having those short digestive tracts, we know short transit times in the digestive system, we wanted to provide that benefit of that pre-digestion. So you have this micro ecosystem in a food system. We have these macro ecosystems we're very much aware of and how balancing it can be. In the micro ecosystem that's in this raw living food, we have to keep that balanced as well, right?

So we want to be able to take that all the way through the food system and when we use harsh techniques like heat or pressure pasteurization that wipe out all the bacteria, beneficial or bad, we don't have that balance in that micro ecosystem and unfortunately that can set the food up for post-contamination where the food can actually become more dangerous if mishandled or temperature abused along the way.

So the food fermentation was the perfect fit for manufacturing a raw pet food in my mind because you get that continuous protection all the way through that point of that introduction of those fermented ingredients. You're priming that system. So you have a food system that you put together. You're inoculating it with that beneficial bacteria and that stays in the system the entire way through so what's so wonderful about fermentation is you get that added safety benefit, even if the food might be compromised along the way. We know when it leaves the manufacturing facility it's out of the manufacturer's control often. It goes through distribution. It goes through retailers. Until it gets to your pet's bowl, a lot of hands and conditions have handled it.

So you want to set that food up to be able to handle those types of conditions. With fermentation, if the food was compromised or actually got warmer, it's primed now for those beneficial bacteria to grow and those pathogens just can't compete and they won't grow to those infectious levels. So we've done wonderful challenge studies on our foods with them and we're amazed at the success and very confident in it. We're very grateful to have been able to utilize this method because there's so many benefits of fermentation. I could go on and on about it.

DB: That was a great explanation. So here are my two burning questions. Number one, how do you introduce the fermentation? Do you do fermented stock? How is it done. And then number two, how do you double check to make sure it's working?

Roxanne: Absolutely. Two very good questions. So the way it's done, the fermented ingredients become part of our formulation. Like many other manufacturers, we start with fresh UDSA often organic meats and I do want to interject this and say one thing here with fermentation, it's very important that you start with very high quality good, clean meats. I don't want to transgress too much but with factory farmed meats and using confined animal feeding operations, if you start with a heavy load of contamination, food fermentation isn't going to be as successful for you. You're going to have a difficult time with it. So it's important to note that when you're using this type of method for your food preservation, you want to start with that balanced microflora so that means using good quality meats, pasture raised chickens and grass fed beef and starting with that balance is really important.

So we start there and that's really the first part. It really starts in the soil. All of this goes through from healthy soil to healthy forage to healthy livestock. What we actually do at the point of manufacture is add fermented ingredients such as raw goat milk whey, teeming with beneficial lactic acid bacteria. That becomes an ingredient in the food. We also use fermented cod livers, also teeming with tons of beneficial bacteria. So that goes into the food as an ingredient. In some of our formulas we actually use fermented decaffeinated green tea which is kombucha which a lot of people have heard of and it has become a very popular fermented beverage that many humans drink and is very beneficial for our pets as well.

So you're inoculating that food system and you're setting that whole system up for that benefit. You're favouring that beneficial bacteria. Fermentation is generally a competition. We don't want to wipe out all the bacteria. That can have very negative consequences and we're discovering that now and everybody's jumping back on this probiotic bandwagon thing, "We've got to get good gut flora back into our systems for a healthy gut". If we destroy all the bacteria with the processing techniques like pasteurization and we don't re-inoculate that, obviously that's detrimental to the homeostasis, that balance of that micro ecosystem that we want to see go through all the way to our pets' gut.

So we use fermented ingredients. We inoculate our formulations with those and that can happen at cold temperatures. That's fine. We use mesophilic type cultures. What mesophilic means is just low fermenting. They'll ferment down at 50 degrees, so even at refrigeration temperatures you're using cultures that can still be active down at those lower temperatures. So we use those a broad spectrum of those type of cultures.

The nice thing about fermentation is those lactic acid bacteria also produce an antimicrobial agent called bacteriosis. For your listeners who may not be familiar with that, that is almost like an antibiotic that these little microorganisms produce that are detrimental to bad bacteria like listeria and e-coli and salmonella. There's much research on this. In fact around 1988 the FDA actually approved an extracted bacteria and they named it niftin and that was used in the food industry for many, many years, very effectively.

So these types of products that these lactics are making have been used in the food industry for a long time and fermentation as well. I don't think it gets enough credit for how effective it is and the reason we chose it is because it's so applicable to these carnivores who really need that pre-digestion of their food. So that benefit comes from fermentation. So you've got all of this proteolysis going on. It's breaking down proteins. It's releasing digestive enzymes. It's concentrating nutrients like B vitamins, it's high in vitamin K2. We know that these carnivores have that short transit system. They need those digestive enzymes. They need those concentrated nutrients to be able to assimilate their food quickly. So this was just the perfect fit, in my mind, for a raw food diet to be able to be a safe commercial raw food and then offer all those benefits to the carnivore as well.

DB: Yeah! I couldn't agree with you more but it's also just so inspiring as a company that you knew this from the human food industry but you have transposed this information down into pet food and it's working fabulously for you. But of course the big burning question is going to be, "Well how do you know?" I know how you know, but tell our listeners how you check.

Roxanne: Right. We do challenge studies on our crates. So we can take a known number of pathogenic bacteria, for instance let's say salmonella, and put it into the food at a known concentration and then we can follow it over time and see. Has it grown? Has it grown to infectious levels? We've done many of these challenge studies. Chicken is always one of the toughest because that one tends to harbour salmonella. It's amazing how it just shuts it down. They just can't compete.

The great thing about it - I don't want to get too deep into the woods on regulatory because it gets kind of crazy - but zero tolerance or no pathogens or any bad bacteria in a raw food diet is very unrealistic.

DB: Yeah.

Roxanne: And I want to clarify that Karen because I'm not sitting here advocating for high pathogenic loads in raw food because they can get people sick and we understand that. But to have zero, so literally none, is very unrealistic and they know that in the USDA side of things because we have tolerances for even very high quality type meats that have a certain tolerance level. So it's bad science in my opinion to impose those. And the way they test in regulatory for these pathogenic bacteria like salmonella and listeria, the type of testing methods they use are so sensitive that they can pick up as little as one viable cell. If you do the research and you really look into what makes people sick, what kind of load levels do you have to have - and I'm talking for humans. We know dogs load levels can be extremely high. I think you would agree with that.

DB: Yes.

Roxanne: But let's just look at humans. They've done a lot of studies where they've shown that you have to be up over the millions and billions CSU parts per gram which is a big portion to be able to get to those infectious levels. So in fermentation, they may be present. You may be able to detect a cell of salmonella or a cell of an opportunistic pathogen but what I love about it is that does not mean that that's a public health hazard, that that's going to make somebody sick. And especially with fermentation because what I like about it as well, some of the fear I think that some of your listeners or readers may have is that it's too risky to serve fresh food and if my dog eats it and licks the baby or licks the child, that could cross-contaminate. And with fermentation, you've got to remember when this dog is eating fermented food, it's eating all of that microflora, all of that beneficial bacteria and that is what's going to be transferred to your family and to the rest of the household.

So you're setting up a micro ecosystem for your dog that is going to transcend into the rest of the family and that to me is the perfect picture. That's what you want to get to.

DB: And that's a great example. I do agree with you that the zero tolerance is not only unrealistic, I think that it potentially could be set up for being able to very easily pluck out companies. Kibble is loaded with contaminants including mycotoxins that can kill dogs and cats dead. So it's incredibly frustrating that we have this zero tolerance because dogs and cats handle normal flora very comfortably. It's a matter of making sure that we're doing our due diligence and removing human risk. So all of these amazingly innovative pet food companies like Answers that are coming up with their own means of controlling potentially pathogenic bacteria without using extreme measures that totally obliterate all the healthy positive healthy bacteria. It's just one great example of companies that are embarking on their own. You're forging your own path and we are supportive and happy to be able to talk about this because in essence what we are doing, we're not letting the frustrations of the pet food industry weigh us down. You've figured out a beautiful workaround to control potential pathogens without in any way damaging or harming the raw materials or the meats included. So I think it's brilliant.

Roxanne: Thank you.

DB: And I appreciate you discussing it with us today.

Roxanne: I'm happy to be here. Thank you so much.

Tiffany: Are those goats eating fermented foods?

Doug: For sure.

Erica: They have happy gut flora.

Tiffany: Well thanks for sharing that with us Zoya. There was some good information there. I don't feed my cats fermented food but raw food definitely.

Doug: Maybe I should start.

Tiffany: Yeah. Sounds good. I mean tasty-good. Okay, anything else to add on superstitious beliefs?

Erica: Have a great Friday the 13th! {laughter}

Tiffany: Enjoy your Friday the 13th everybody. We'll be back next week with another show on another topic that we have not decided on yet. So thanks to all of our chatters and we will see you all next week.