[-empyre-] Residual Contamination

Catherine Grau catherine.grau at googlemail.com
Wed Nov 8 16:23:31 AEDT 2017

Just a quick response to Marisa and questioning feasibility of
Maybe rather than remediation, we can think about transformation.
Cultivating transformation.

On a small scale (for now), recovering traditional / ancient cultures of
food-making, such as making bread with sourdough or lievito madre, are a
path for disrupting the dominant commercial food paradigms of highly
processed foods that cater to global markets and economic viability. Rather
than having GMO seed monopolies and a long shelf life of flour, we opt for
the nutrition and longer shelf life of a handmade sourdough bread, which
maybe requires returning to local and small scale grain farming.
Besides the glyphosate tangent, what I struggled with most in making bread
with natural leaven were the rhythms, cycles, the time commitment, the
process of nurturing and attention... The form of presence it entices.
Working with an obviously living agent, a living process. But the fact that
it is difficult to balance DIY bread baking with precarious contemporary
urban lifestyle is also what is actually so exiting and promising about it.
What would it look like to restructure my lifestyle around symbiotic

I listened to this interview with Anna Tsing today where she speaks about
her book "Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet":
And, although I struggle, I would love to find the enthusiasm with which
she engages the subject of contamination.
What I love about her is this radical openness to the concept of change
rooted in the celebration of life that is surviving and emerging from the

I'm just beginning to nurture that narrative. Hope it rises!


Catherine Grau
EPA - environmentalperformanceagency.com

On Tue, Nov 7, 2017 at 9:26 PM, Marisa Tesauro <info at marisatesauro.com>

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Dear Renate and others who are walking through contamination with us this
> month,
> Catherine takes us on an interesting journey into the residual
> contamination in the soil and gives us an accurate timeframe, in general
> terms there is a constant bombardment that leads to a layering effect of
> residual contamination where the natural course of insects cannot do their
> work, the soil can’t escape this residual pollution, the crops carry the
> residual contamination, our source of nutrition carries these residuals to
> our cells and organs and once again leave their residual trace.  I don’t
> believe a word Monsanto says, they would poison their own grandmother and
> not think twice.
> I also thought about residual in regards to the finger lakes issue:
> antibiotic runoff due to medicine cabinet purges into toilets or places
> where they eventually end up in the water supply, agriculture and even
> water treatment plants that can’t deal with these types of substances. In
> fact there are high levels of residual antibiotics in animal manure that
> gets used as fertilizer and then leaches into the soil and eventually makes
> it way into the waterways. The natural ecosystem of the finger lakes is
> effected and I am interested in understanding why exactly there is high
> phosphorous level in the finger lakes?
> As I said in my earlier email the residual is often times more powerful
> than the act itself: the pro glyphosate team claims that 80% of glyphosate
> can evaporate in a 2 hour period after being applied or that it doesn’t
> drift into neighboring fields. That seems a little like magic to me, is it
> that the chemical compound evaporates but the residue is absorbed by
> everything in its path? The residual chain is charted quite well in regards
> to soil, water and our bodies as we can see from the data on glyphosate
> found in urine and breast milk as well as waterways and soil testing. I
> have also read research on farmer’s families and levels of glyphosate found
> in the urine of the farmer as well as family members, the numbers are not
> reassuring and further the need to look at the residual contamination from
> all sides.
> When I first started feeding my starter (which was started in Italy) and
> making bread my acupuncture said to me that I would be better off to get my
> flour from an Italian source because as Catherine states even the top
> organic flours on the US market admittedly have residual glyphosate levels.
> Things were getting more complicated in my simple plan to make my own bread
> for myself and my family and how ironic as making bread is a chemical
> process where the residual contamination is crucial in the process: the
> bacteria on my hands help make the bread rise properly. The starter is its
> own ecosystem where bacteria, CO2 and flour live in harmony and you have to
> be careful to care for that ecosystem carefully, measure properly, feed the
> starter when it needs to be fed amongst the most important points. Bread
> when baked like this should be extremely nutritious, but if residual
> contamination of the not good kind such as pesticide residual
> contamination, the chemical makeup of the bread changes and when we eat the
> bread our body doesn’t know what to do with the foreign residuals, the
> synthetic residuals and they find a cell to hang out in or an organ to sink
> into. How do we cope with this complex situation of residual contamination
> and where do we go from here-what are the remediation options (for this
> specific topic, I don’t always believe in remediation)?
> And if this also sounds bleak, I do apologize but this is one reality of
> residual contamination where there might just be an opportunity to
> re-strategize together,
> Marisa
> On Nov 7, 2017, at 12:22 PM, Catherine Grau <catherine.grau at googlemail.com>
> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Dear Renate, and those out there thinking through contamination with us,
> A bit more about residual contamination:
> I just did a quick search:  There are about one billion tons of pesticides
> used per year in the US; 5,6 billion tons in the world. That's two tons per
> person in the US and almost one ton per person worldwide (not quite, we are
> currently 7,6 billion people). And as we already know, everything that we
> put out into the environment finds it's way back to us. There is no away.
> Even though Monsanto declares that glyphosate gets decomposed in the soil
> by microbes within 2 - 200 days, I doubt - because we continually spray,
> the soil gets no breaks, and many new and old independent studies show that
> the soil life and insect life is being decimated by the chemicals. With
> dying microbes, who decomposes the chemicals?
> Residual contamination to me is like looking at how weather happens,
> everything is connected in a rhythm of cycles and transformations and
> travel. When you tell me about high levels of phosphorous in the finger
> lakes region, I immediately think of chemical fertilizers (due to soil
> depletion). Chemicals travel, run-off into the ground water, downstream, in
> the oceans (Last year a comprehensive study of residual contamination in
> west coast waters made headlines, which tested positive for over 80
> chemicals, mostly pharmaceutical - anti-depressants, birth control,
> caffeine - and pesticides), in our tap water, in our food supply,
> bio-accumulating in our bodies... Glyphosate is now found in the urine
> samples of 93% of US Americans that get tested. Many mothers are now
> sending in samples of their breastmilk - and testing positive for
> glyphosate. When I began my search for glyphosate-free flour, I found out
> that the two main organic flours available here (Bob's Red Mill and King
> Arthur) both openly admit to their flours testing positive for glyphosate.
> It's pretty much inescapable. And that is just one chemical.
> Apologies for dumping on you this pile of really daunting information (and
> I'm stopping myself from going on), but I just want to illustrate the
> gravity or how deep residual contamination penetrates. Our bodies are
> literally (chemically) part of the larger contaminated bodies of water and
> soil and biological matter. That reality / concept, just like the scale and
> impact of it's dimension and temporality, is an example of what Timothy
> Morton calls "hyperobjects"... as scale of objects (the uses it mostly to
> talk about climate change) we need to learn how to encounter.
> Promise, I will scale back down into the tangible dimensions of the
> starter dough in my next post.
> In contaminated togetherness,
> Catherine
> Catherine Grau
> ///\\\///\\\///\\\///\\\
> EPA - environmentalperformanceagency.com
> chancecologies.com
> On Mon, Nov 6, 2017 at 11:48 PM, Renate Terese Ferro <rferro at cornell.edu>
> wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> Catherine wrote:
>> Snip
>> " By way of the dominant western culture, many of us build and enforce
>> these mental boundaries where places are labelled and confined as distant /
>> separate from us.
>> …As part of my art practice, I have spent many years (and a long way to
>> go) exploring ways of unlearning my western (mis)education - and rooting
>> that
>> practice in re-weaving the deeper connections or belonging to an
>> inter-dependent, living, breathing world.That path for me has been to work
>> through the body and reclaiming somatic ways of knowing…Marisa and I
>> would like to start off this discussion by honing in on the concept of
>> *residual contamination* - as a place of linking back to our bodies and a
>> way of disruption the narrative of static and confined notions of place.”
>> Snip
>> Dear Catherine,
>> How exciting to hear about how you are  thinking about contamination
>> related to somatic awareness.  I am looking forward to hearing more from
>> both you and Marisa but I thought I would share one of my connections to
>> contamination as it relates to water.  Those of you who know Tim Murray and
>> I know
>> that we live in the middle of upstate New York in a small hamlet.  We
>> live on a fifteen acre lot, almost adjacent to the forest reserves of New
>> York State. The delicate balance of our bodies and our environment are
>> apparent to us everyday as we drink water from the deep wells within the
>> earth’s  aquifers below the rock strata via our well.
>> All of the underground water in our surrounding Ithaca flows into the
>> Finger Lakes. The five lakes appear like the five digits or fingers of the
>> hand, but the lakes were formed by glacial slow freezes and thaws that
>> gorged deep lakes. Ithaca NY sits at the base of one of the middle lakes
>> called Cayuga, the same name as the American Indian tribe, part of the
>> Iroquois Confederacy.  The history is as deep as is the 435 feet of deep
>> green lake water.
>> Just this past summer the entire lake was put on lock down literally.
>> State Parks  and private swimming and boating areas were deemed unsafe for
>> humans because of blue-green algae bloom contamination that caused skin
>> irritation and sickness upon contact.  Environmentalists have been studying
>> the effects of high phosphorous leaches into the water that have been known
>> to cause the algae blooms.  High lake temperatures also have been proven to
>> also cause the blooms.
>> There is not a day that goes by that I don’t intentionally think about
>> this bio/environmental network that is so directly relational to all of our
>> health and safety. From our the health and environment of our bio-networks
>> to language, communication, and relationships contamination slowly seeps
>> without boundaries. Perhaps the starter dough may be a great place to talk
>> about the interrelationship of those factors.  Looking forward to your
>> sharing more experiences and resources. But perhaps I also might ask for
>> both of you to talk a bit more about “residual contamination.”
>> Thanks,
>> Renate
>> Renate Ferro
>> Visiting Associate Professor
>> Director of Undergraduate Studies
>> Department of Art
>> Tjaden Hall 306
>> rferro at cornell.edu
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