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ret·ro·dyl·lic adjective

imitative of a style, fashion, or design from a happy, peaceful, or picturesque time or place


a TMM T H E M I L L M AG A Z I N E

E D I T I O N 9 N O . 1

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FEATURES

p.18

SELF CONTROL

AND SOCIAL INFLUENCE

p.30 THE MALL ISN'T DEAD

IT'S JUST CHANGING

p.44 T O U R I S M

TAKING A DIFFERENT PATH

p.58The

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SELF

CONTROL AND SOCIAL INFLUENCE Te x t b y S a b i n e D o e b e l

I

s self-control something you can acquire, like a new language or a taste for opera? Or is it one of those things you either have or don’t, like fashion sense or a knack for telling a good joke?

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Psychologist Walter Mischel’s famous results from the “marshmallow test” seem to suggest self-control is relatively stable and not easily learned. In this test, children sit at a table in an otherwise empty room and are given a choice: They can have one marshmallow right away, or, if they can wait for the experimenter to get more marshmallows from another room, they can have two instead. Most children see this as a nobrainer and opt to wait for two marshmallows.

Mischel himself has emphasized that children who showed more self-control used a variety of strategies that could be learned – like distracting themselves by singing and turning away from the marshmallow or distancing themselves from the marshmallow by imagining it as an inedible, fluffy cloud.

A less optimistic view holds that children who were good at distracting themselves had more self-control to begin with, which helped them The real test is waiting. Children are left alone in activate self-distracting thoughts and behaviors the room for up to 15 minutes or until they taste rather than fixating on the sweet treat in front the marshmallow. Children vary in how long of them. And although Mischel found that they can last without sampling the delectable children could be induced to wait longer if they treat in front of them, and it turns out that the were taught these kinds of strategies, there’s no longer they wait, the better they will fare later in evidence that such experimental interventions life – socially, emotionally and academically. alter children’s spontaneous self-control behavior outside of the lab. Other tests find similar patterns. People who demonstrate more self-control in childhood But don’t throw your hands up in resignation and are, as adults, healthier, wealthier and more law- reach for that second slice of chocolate cake just abiding. yet. A new wave of studies suggests that maybe RETRODYLLIC•EDITION 9 NO. 1•THEMILLMAGAZINE.COM

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self-control can be learned, provided that social forces encourage this learning. In a new study, my colleague and I found that children will use self-control if they believe others they identify with do. EVERYBODY’S DOING IT Despite enormous interest in improving selfcontrol, researchers have had limited success (so far) in figuring out how to train for it. The general approach has been to target the cognitive processes – called executive functions – that support self-control.

My colleague and I wondered if group influences might be key. Maybe capitalizing on social processes like group values and norms could have a broader influence on self-control skill development. So we designed a study to test whether group behavior influences children’s self-control.

We randomly assigned American preschoolers to a group – for example, telling them they were in “the green group” and giving them a green T-shirt to wear. Then we told them that their group waited or didn’t wait for two marshmallows. We also told them about another Researchers have children practice activities group (the “out-group”) that did the opposite that activate these processes. Training can lead of their group (the “in-group”). This step was to some improvements on similar tasks, but designed to enhance their identification with typically does not generalize to other untrained their own group. Other studies have shown tasks or outcomes. that this kind of procedure leads to in-group favoritism in preschoolers and adults alike. This is a real problem because a key goal of self-control training is to be able to transfer We found that children waited longer for two strengthened skills to real-world situations. marshmallows if they were told their in-group 22

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members waited and that out-group members did not versus if they were told that their ingroup members didn’t wait and out-group members did. Kids who were told their ingroup members waited also lasted longer than other kids who didn’t learn anything about their group’s behavior.

their group even if they are given reason to identify with the out-group.

OUTSIDE INFLUENCES ON INTERNAL CONTROL This research is the first to show that group behavior motivates young children’s own actions that involve self-control. Identifying with a Why did children follow their group? In a group can help kids use and even value selffollow-up experiment, we found that children control when they otherwise would not have. whose group members waited subsequently preferred other nongroup individuals who These findings converge with other recent and waited for things like stickers, candy and money. classic findings that social forces influence selfThis suggests children weren’t simply copying control in children. Children will wait longer what their group members did. Rather, it seems for two marshmallows if they believe the person that the group’s behavior influenced the value dispensing them is reliable and trustworthy. the child subsequently placed on self-control. Children also model other people’s self-control behavior. Even infants will work longer to We’ve since replicated these findings in another achieve a goal if they see an adult try to achieve culture, finding that Japanese children will their own goal repeatedly. choose to wait for more stickers if they believe in-group members wait and out-group members How do these findings of social influences on don’t. Impressively, Japanese children still follow self-control square with the fact that the RETRODYLLIC•EDITION 9 NO. 1•THEMILLMAGAZINE.COM

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marshmallow test and others are so reliably it. Repetition will strengthen the underlying predictive of later life outcomes? Do they neurocognitive systems that support these skills. mean that self-control actually isn’t stable? Not necessarily. So can self-control be learned? My answer is yes – what can seem like an inborn trait may You could just be someone who likes to wait for actually be substantially influenced by social or save things (there are 3-year-olds like this, forces. Parents may be able to help kids build believe it or not), but this doesn’t mean your this skill by exposing them to role models (in behavior in a given moment isn’t subject to social real life or stories) who demonstrate and value influences. Even young children will adjust their self-control. Adults may be able to increase baseline self-control tendencies depending on self-control by spending time around friends the context, saving less when saving turns out to who use it. Ultimately, cultivating self-control be disadvantageous. as a personal value and norm may be critical to using and developing it, whether you are young And social influences could, over time, play or old. With a little help from your friends, a role in shaping how much a person tends to resisting that second piece of cake may be easier use self-control generally. For instance, imagine than you think. a child grows up among peers who really value doing well in school and use self-control to TMM complete homework before running off to play. Exposure to this group norm could influence the Sabine Doebel is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Psychology and at the University of Colorado. She received her PhD in child to do the same. The idea is that the more Neuroscience Developmental Psychology from the University of Minnesota. This you practice self-control, the easier it gets to use article was originally published on The Conversation.

a T H E M I L L M AG A Z I N E

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THE MALL ISN’T DEAD IT’S JUST CHANGING Te x t b y S t e f a n A l

T

oday, thousands of empty suburban malls dot the American landscape. Describing decaying buildings and cracked asphalt parking lots, eulogy after eulogy arrives at the same conclusion: The mall is “dead.” (There’s even a website – DeadMalls.com – documenting the decline.) But 8,000 miles away, another vision of the mall has taken hold – one that could well spell its future. RETRODYLLIC•EDITION 9 NO. 1•THEMILLMAGAZINE.COM

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Hong Kong has more than 300 shopping centers, THE MALL’S UNFULFILLED VISION but most of the city’s malls don’t sit on asphalt In Hong Kong, these urban malls took off after parking lots; rather, they’re above subway 1975, when the local government created the stations or underneath skyscrapers. Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC). In my book “Mall City: Hong Kong’s Dreamworlds of Consumption,” I describe how some are connected to so many towers that they form megastructures – cities in and of themselves that can accommodate tens of thousands of people who live, work and play without ever going outside.

In addition to building metro lines, the MTRC developed land. (In most cities, transit corporations are separate entities from developers.) The unique arrangement allowed the city to seamlessly integrate subway stops with office and shopping complexes.

Hong Kong’s urban mega malls quickly became Hong Kong also has the world’s tallest vertical the most visited malls in the world. malls – “mall skyscrapers” that rise up to 26 levels, with crisscrossing “expresators” that Unlike their counterparts in suburban shoot shoppers high up into soaring atriums. American, Hong Kong’s urban malls lie closer to the original intentions of mall visionary Victor Now, developers in mainland China and around Gruen. the world are beginning to closely copy Hong Kong’s projects. But will they improve upon In 1956, Gruen designed the first mall, the suburban shopping mall’s faults – or simply Minnesota’s Southdale Center, with many of exacerbate them? the features we associate with malls today: It 32

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was fully enclosed and climate controlled, with Centers,” he groused about the mall’s “tragic anchor stores, escalators and a glass-roofed downgrading of quality.” atrium. According to Gruen, “Promoters and But, the Southdale Center didn’t exactly fulfill speculators who just wanted to make a fast his vision. buck” had perverted his vision by ditching the community-oriented features, like libraries and The Austrian immigrant, who had changed doctors’ offices, that he’d suggested. his name from Grünbaum to Gruen (German for “green”), wanted malls to be more than a And rather than surround the malls with shopping center. He saw the mall as a new town apartments or parks, developers instead created center – a hub of apartments, offices, a park and “the ugliness and discomfort of the land-wasting schools that would offer a lively alternative to seas of parking.” Even worse, as malls attracted America’s lackluster, bland, suburban sprawl. hordes of people, they delivered “the death blow to the already suffering city centres by dragging His dream was never realized: American malls the last remaining activities out of them.” remained insular, and, like Frankenstein’s monster, only nourished the frantic Gruen eventually returned to Vienna in 1967 – consumerism Gruen was trying to mitigate. only to find a shopping mall just south of the old town. “I refuse to pay alimony for those bastard developments,” Gruen said in 1978. In a speech STILL TAINTED BY CONSUMERISM? that same year, titled “The Sad Story of Shopping But what would Victor Gruen think of Hong


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Kong’s urban malls? They belong to a highdensity, mixed-use community, and they’re surrounded by apartments and pedestrians, rather than a sea of asphalt and cars. In other ways, they exceed Gruen’s vision: They’re integrated into mass transit and have stunningly tall vertical atria.

tower developments – the mall is deliberately placed at the intersection of all pedestrian flows, between all entry points into the structure and the residential, office and transit areas.

For instance, Hong Kong’s Union Square is a megastructure above a train station and includes residences, offices and hotels, all built on a podium mall. The whole thing houses approximately 70,000 residents on 35 acres, an area the size of the Pentagon.

For millions of residents and pedestrians, then, entering commercialized areas becomes an inevitability, not a choice. It normalizes a culture of consumerism: Everyday life is played out on the terrain of the mall, and the private shopping atrium takes on the role of the public square.

They’re impossible to miss and impossible to avoid.

The monolith represents an entirely new Because Hong Kong’s apartments are small – concept of urban living, a self-sufficient “city its summer climate hot and humid – the mall within a city” – but one without streets, blocks becomes a default gathering place. or individual buildings. And, why not? There’s plenty of space and the As convenient this urban form may be, it air-conditioning is free. And while you’re there, does come with strings attached. In the case you might as well browse around the shops and of Union Square – as in many other podium- spend some cash. RETRODYLLIC•EDITION 9 NO. 1•THEMILLMAGAZINE.COM

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In this respect, Hong Kong’s mall cities achieve the maximum potential of something scholars call the “Gruen Transfer.” This tongue-in-cheek term, coined in “honor” of architect Victor Gruen, refers to the moment when the mall’s undulating corridors lead them to simply shop for shopping’s sake, rather than approaching shopping with a plan to buy a specific product. The mall’s inventor – who lamented the closing of small individual stores in cities because of “gigantic shopping machines” in suburbs – would have surely turned in his grave had he known this machine had become the city.

are looking for ways to build compact, transitoriented, lucrative developments. The Asian hyper-dense urban mall is also making an appearance in American cities. Miami has Brickell City Centre, a five-story mall in the heart of the city. Covering three city blocks, it’s topped by three high-rises (and was built by a Hong Kong developer). New York City is building a seven-story mall attached to two skyscrapers in Hudson Yards, America’s largest private development. The Santiago Calatrava-designed Oculus – the centerpiece of the World Trade Center – has a mall with over 100 stores, with its white-ribbed atrium attracting an army of tourists taking pictures with selfie-sticks.

WILL HONG KONG’S MALLS GO GLOBAL? Today, the fate of Gruen’s invention will take another turn. Hong Kong’s urban mall developments have become the envy of other Since the hub connects office buildings with cities – including Shenzhen and Shanghai – that train and subway stations, the stores are also 38

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“irrigated” by the 50,000 commuters who pass by each weekday. In short, the mall isn’t “dead” – it’s just changing. The development model is so popular in China – a symptom of the country’s rapid rise of domestic consumerism – that developers even coined a term for it: “HOPSCA,” an abbreviation of Hotel, Offices, Parking, Shopping, Convention center and Apartments. But to do justice to the centrality of the mall in these projects, perhaps the “S” should have been put up front to read “SHOPCA” – short for “Shopapocalypse.”

aM T M T H E M I L L M AG A Z I N E

Stefan Al is an architect, urban designer, scholar, educator, and author, currently serving as Associate Professor of Urban Design at the University of Pennsylvania. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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TOURISM TAKING A DIFFERENT PATH Text by Elizabeth Turenko and Karine Dupré

B

ig cities and places with internationally renowned attractions have long been the most popular tourist destinations. Even today, Chinese tour companies in Australia, for instance, mostly focus on the biggest cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane – and landmarks like Uluru. But modern tourism is starting to take a slightly different path, regional travel, which creates economic benefits for towns and also leaves tourists with a better impression of a country.

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Take the road less traveled

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Unpublished research undertaken by one of us (Elizabeth Turenko) while working as a tour leader in Ukraine in 2013-2014 confirmed this. Feedback from guests travelling on a group tour to Europe showed 80% preferred to visit “well-known” large cities, mostly capitals, when it came to choosing a tour. Most of the time, though, these tourists were disappointed because the cities did not live up to their expectations. But, the study revealed, 75% of tourists enjoyed travelling to smaller towns when they did decide to visit them as part of a tour. BIG CITIES ARE LOSING THEIR LOCAL FLAVOR There is no doubt the major cities are attractive and are still perceived as the essence of a country for many tourists. Yet the question remains: are these cities actually showing the “real country”? At a time of globalisation and global cities, to what extent do the larger cities still give tourists “the taste” of local culture. Rural Tourism Marketing Group CEO Joanna Steele writes: "In the past five years tourism has seen some big changes. Large numbers of travellers have lost interest in cookie-cutter restaurants, lodging and attractions. Instead, they want local food, local attractions and connection to the lifestyles of local people." The best places to experience that are often small local towns and villages. Here life hasn’t yet been adapted to tourist needs and the authenticity feels right.

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Turenko also investigated the tourists’ preferences during a group bus tour in Europe. The main program involved a one-day visit to Amsterdam and a second day on which tourists could spend their free time in Amsterdam or go on a group trip to Volendam, a small town 20 km away. The 90% of the group who opted for the town visit were very satisfied with their decision. So, was there anything special about Volendam? Not really. Much like many small towns in the Netherlands, Volendam has limited tourist attractions, these being mostly its built heritage (wooden buildings) and cultural assets (a museum and a cheese factory). When surveyed, the visitors explained they enjoyed the glimpse into the local culture and the routine life of the locals. The tourists appreciated going to local shops and eating at local restaurants far away from standardised brands and international franchises. They felt they could feel the “soul” of the country. What does Volendam have that Amsterdam doesn’t? It probably comes down to everyday local character. At the time of this 2014 survey, cities and holidays at the coast were the main attractions for visitors to the Netherlands (36% and 22%, respectively). But interest in the countryside and touring the Netherlands (12% and 10%, respectively) has been increasing.

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FINDING A LOCAL TOURISM NICHE Let’s be frank: smaller towns and villages have not been dormant, and many have jumped at the opportunities offered by tourism. We all have heard about farm holidays, horse riding, wine tasting tours, nature guided walks and so on. Building on this, innovative regional tourism practices have been recognised worldwide for displaying a breadth of approaches and end products. A good example in Ireland is Ballyhoura, “a world where the little pleasures of sharing everyday things with the locals in Ballyhoura – talking with them, walking with them and sharing a joke – is possibly the greatest attraction of them all!” Despite a lack of outstanding tourism resources, the area became a successful tourism destination thanks to a very personalised marketing method. Visitors even received a welcoming letter. The focus on “promoting a genuine rural experience and warm welcome” creates an incentive for more local start-up enterprises and for a co-operative, closing-the-loop process of quality control. Longreach and Winton are Australian towns that have taken advantage of distinctive local histories and features such as old mines and fossil beds. Longreach has the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and the Qantas Founders Museum, while Winton’s Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum offers “products” of the natural environment such as dinosaur stamps and bones. Yet all attempts have not been met with success. Many

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smaller towns are slowly disappearing in Australia. Main streets with closed shops and abandoned business are not uncommon. The combination of lack of employment and population ageing and loss is a chicken-and-egg situation. The various levels of government are acutely aware of this, and tourism offers a possible way out of the dilemma facing these towns. Several recent initiatives have shown how tourism can contribute to the development of these areas when innovation, expertise and community participation are brought together. Charleville in far west Queensland offers a great example of this, with the outback town working on making the most of its clear nighttime skies, far from the city lights. An extension to the Cosmos Centre and Observatory, funded by state and local governments, has boosted visitor numbers in just one year. The extension displays fun and serious facts about planets and life in space, enhanced by interactive media. For the town of fewer than 4,000 people, the growth in tourism is like a nice spring rain after a long dry season. It’s another reminder of why rural tourism can be “the perfect small town business idea”.

aM T M T H E M I L L M AG A Z I N E

Elizabeth Turenko is a PhD Candidate at Griffith University. Karine Dupré is an Associate Professor in Architecture at Griffith University.. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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outback town...making the most of its clear nighttime skies

the perfect small town business idea RETRODYLLIC•EDITION 9 NO. 1•THEMILLMAGAZINE.COM

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The MUSHROOM A NUTRITIONAL STAR Te x t b y R o b e r t B e e l m a n

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ushrooms are often considered only for their culinary use because they are packed with flavor-enhancers and have gourmet appeal. That is probably why they are the second most popular pizza topping, next to pepperoni. RETRODYLLIC•EDITION 9 NO. 1•THEMILLMAGAZINE.COM

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In the past, food scientists like me often praised mushrooms as healthy because of what they don’t contribute to the diet; they contain no cholesterol and gluten and are low in fat, sugars, sodium and calories. But, that was selling mushrooms short. They are very healthy foods and could have medicinal properties, because they are good sources of protein, B-vitamins, fiber, immune-enhancing sugars found in the cell walls called beta-glucans, and other bioactive compounds. Mushrooms have been used as food and sometimes as medicine for centuries. In the past, most of the medicinal use of mushrooms was in Asian cultures, while most Americans have been skeptical of this concept. However, due to changing consumer attitudes rejecting the pharmaceutical approach as the only answer to healing, that seems to be changing. I study the nutritional value of fungi and mushrooms, and my laboratory has conducted a great deal of research on the lowly mushroom. We have discovered that 60

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mushrooms may be even better for health than previously known. They can be excellent sources of four key dietary micronutrients that are all known to be important to healthy aging. We are even looking into whether some of these could be important in preventing Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. FOUR KEY NUTRIENTS Important nutrients in mushrooms include selenium, vitamin D, glutathione and ergothioneine. All are known to function as antioxidants that can mitigate oxidative stress and all are known to decline during aging. Oxidative stress is considered the main culprit in causing the diseases of aging such as cancer, heart disease and dementia. Ergothioneine, or ergo, is actually an antioxidant amino acid that was initially discovered in 1909 in ergot fungi. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. RETRODYLLIC•EDITION 9 NO. 1•THEMILLMAGAZINE.COM

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Ergo is produced in nature primarily by fungi, including mushrooms. Humans cannot make it, so it must be obtained from dietary sources. There was little scientific interest in ergo until 2005, when pharmacology professor Dirk Grundemann discovered that all mammals make a genetically coded transporter that rapidly pulls ergo into the red blood cells. They then distribute ergo around the body, where it accumulates in tissues that are under the most oxidative stress. That discovery led to a significant increase in scientific inquiry about possible role of ergo in human health. One study led to a leading American scientist, Dr. Solomon Snyder, recommending that ergo be considered as a new vitamin. In 2006, a graduate student of mine, Joy Dubost, and I discovered that edible cultivated mushrooms were extremely rich sources of ergo and contained at least 10 times the level in any other food source. Through collaboration with John Ritchie and post-doctoral scientist Michael Kalaras 62

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at the Hershey Medical Center at Penn State, we showed that mushrooms are also a leading dietary source of the master antioxidant in all living organisms, glutathione. No other food even comes close to mushrooms as a source of both of these antioxidants. I EAT MUSHROOMS, ERGO I AM HEALTHY? Our current research is centered on evaluating the potential of ergo in mushrooms to prevent or treat neurodegenerative diseases of aging, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. We based this focus on several intriguing studies conducted with aging Asian populations. One study conducted in Singapore showed that as people aged the ergo content in their blood declined significantly, which correlated with increasing cognitive impairment. The authors suggested that a dietary deficiency of ergo might predispose individuals to neurological diseases. A recent epidemiological study conducted with over 13,000 elderly people in Japan showed that those who ate more mushrooms had less incidence RETRODYLLIC•EDITION 9 NO. 1•THEMILLMAGAZINE.COM

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of dementia. The role of ergo consumed with the mushrooms was not evaluated but the Japanese are known to be avid consumers of mushrooms that contain high amounts of ergo. MORE ERGO, BETTER HEALTH? One important question that has always begged an answer is how much ergo is consumed in the diet by humans. A 2016 study was conducted that attempted to estimate the average ergo consumption in five different countries. I used their data to calculate the estimated amount of ergo consumed per day by an average 150-pound person and found that it ranged from 1.1 in the U.S. to 4.6 milligrams per day in Italy. We were then able to compare estimated ergo consumption against mortality rate data from each country caused by the common neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. 64

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We found, in each case, a decline in the death rates with increasing estimated ergo consumption. Of course, one cannot assume a cause and effect relationship from such an exercise, but it does support our hypothesis that it may be possible to decrease the incidence of neurological diseases by increasing mushroom consumption. If you don’t eat mushrooms, how do you get your ergo? Apparently, ergo gets into the food chain other than by mushroom consumption via fungi in the soil. The fungi pass ergo on to plants grown in the soil and then on to animals that consume the plants. So that depends on healthy fungal populations in agricultural soils. This led us to consider whether ergo levels in the American diet may be harmed by modern agricultural practices that might reduce fungal populations in soils. We began a collaboration with scientists at the Rodale Institute, who are leaders in the study of regenerative organic agricultural methods, to examine this. RETRODYLLIC•EDITION 9 NO. 1•THEMILLMAGAZINE.COM

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Preliminary experiments with oats have shown that farming practices that do not require tilling resulted in significantly higher ergo levels in the oats than with conventional practices, where tillage of the soil disrupts fungal populations. In 1928 Alexander Fleming accidentally discovered penicillin produced from a fungal contaminant in a petri dish. This discovery was pivotal to the start of a revolution in medicine that saved countless lives from bacterial infections. Perhaps fungi will be key to a more subtle, but no less important, revolution through ergo produced by mushrooms. Perhaps then we can fulfill the admonition of Hippocrates to “let food be thy medicine.”

aM T M T H E M I L L M AG A Z I N E

Robert Beelman is a Professor of Food Science at Pennsylvania State University. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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