Before electricity we had water-powered sowing machines and a water driven egg-beater?

Tap power and Water Motors

Pelton water motor 3

A late nineteenth-century water motor with one side of the casing removed.

Few people in the western world realise that they have an extra power source available in their household, workshop or factory: tap water.

Just before the arrival of electricity at the end of the nineteenth century, water motors were widely used in Europe and America.

These miniature water turbines were connected to the tap and could power any machine that is now driven by electricity.


Water has been the main inanimate source of mechanical power from antiquity right up to the beginning of the twentieth century. Although most water wheels were located at the banks of the river (or in the river itself), some were set up at considerable distances from a water source. This was made possible by the introduction of hydraulic power transmission — the process by which water from a stream is led through artificial watercourses to water wheels built on the land.

To support hydraulic power transmission, man-made channels (“power canals” or “aqueducts”) could be dug into the earth or carved out of the rocks (“ditches”). They could also be elevated structures whose walls were raised above the surrounding terrain (“flumes”). Water reservoirs formed by dams could be integrated into these power transmission networks, regulating water flow, providing power storage for times when water was running low, and increasing the “head” or fall of water for a vertical overshot water wheel. The use of power canals increased throughout the medieval period and became widespread during the 1500s.

Power from the Tap

In the mid-nineteenth century, many European and American cities introduced a more sophisticated water distribution system: the public water supply. Although this introduction was an answer to health concerns (it had become clear that reoccurring epidemics were the consequence of drinking contaminated water), it became quickly obvious that the potable water sent through the pipelines of the public water supply could also provide motive power.

Waterwheels were still the most important source of mechanical power in the early days of public water mains. Most European and American cities had running water before they had electricity, so there was a market for a compact power source that could be used in the city, as an alternative to steam engines (which were too expensive, too dangerous and too unpractical to operate on a small-scale) or hand  and foot powered machines. 

Water motor smokstak

Pelton wheel

Late nineteenth-century water motors. Pictures:  Smokstack and Old Pelton.

The town mains were no different from the hydraulic power transmission systems built in earlier times.    In public water supply systems, traditional reliance on geological features as a head for the hydropower cycle is replaced by the use of a water tower. Water is pumped into an elevated reservoir, which could be on a hill or on top of a specially built water tower (a combination of both is also possible).

The height differential between the water level in the reservoir and the water level in the mains determines the pressure of the water. For every 10.20 cm of elevation, a water column produces 0.145 psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure. To produce 70 psi of pressure at street level, a water tower must be 50 m tall.

 It became quickly obvious that the potable water sent through the pipelines of the public water supply could also provide motive power.

In the town mains, the role of the aqueducts or power canals is taken over by a much more intricate network of pipelines. This prevents debris from entering the water and makes uphill water transport easier. Water piping technology was used in some ancient civilisations, but the nineteenth-century systems introduced some lasting innovations.

First of all, thanks to the screw type tap (which was patented in 1845), the water supply could be easily regulated. Second, the water could be further distributed inside individual buildings, often reaching multiple rooms at several floors. At any of these spots, all you had to do to receive motive power from the town mains was to connect a small water turbine to the tap. This is exactly what happened.

Water Powered Household Devices

In Europe, small motors using the public water supply appeared in the 1840s. In the US, they came into extensive use in the 1870s and 1880s. A water motor consisted of a small water turbine that was suspended in a metal casing. The diameter of the turbine runner could be anywhere between from 20 to 90 cm.

Water motor 1

Hydro electric dynamo

Above: A 1906 advertisement for a typical American water motor. Below: A hydraulic dynamo. Source: The Museum of Retrotechnology.

 The smallest water motors were used to run sewing machines, jigsaws, fans, and other similarly mechanized items. The somewhat larger water motors were recommended for operating coffee grinders, ice cream freezers, jeweler’s and locksmith’s lathes, grindstones, church organs, or drug and paint mills. The largest water motors were used to run elevators or circular saws. In water powered washing machines, the water that was needed to wash the clothes was capable of providing power to the machine simultaneously.

Water motors operated machinery by means of a mechanical power transmission, similar to old-fashioned wind, water, and pedal powered machines from that era. The shaft of the water turbine was either equipped with a belt pulley to which different machines could be attached, or it drove one machine directly.

At the end of the nineteenth century, water motors were also used to power electrical devices, especially radios and light bulbs. In this case, the water motor drove a dynamo that produced electricity on the spot. Compact units consisting of a small water turbine directly coupled to a dynamo were commercially available.

Output and Efficiency of a Water Motor

Most water turbines derived pressure by extracting energy from the impulse of moving water as opposed to generating energy via weight, as was the case with most water wheels and some other water turbines. A major innovation was the Pelton wheel, which was invented in 1878.

This water turbine consists of a series of cups fastened at equal intervals around the periphery of a circular disc (the “runner”). The water enters the casing through an inlet pipe, where it is forced through a nozzle which reduces its volume and increases its velocity, after which it is directed to the cups. By changing the nozzle which influences this fluxuation in pressure, the power obtained from a wheel could vary. The exhaust water is dropped out of the bottom of the casing, or led away by an outlet pipe.

 The efficiency of a Pelton wheel is not dependent on its size, which makes it especially attractive for smaller powers.

The Pelton turbine is especially well suited for use in combination with the town mains, due to the fact that it requires a high head and a low water flow. A Pelton wheel is up to 90% efficient, which is comparable to the efficiency of a large, modern electric motor. Unlike steam engines, electric motors, and most other water turbines, which become less efficient as they become smaller, the efficiency of a Pelton wheel is not dependent on its size, which makes it especially attractive for smaller powers.

Water motor 3

A water-powered sewing machine. Source: Knight’s American Dictionary (1881).

Water turbines (such as the Pelton wheel) are much more compact than water wheels, which makes that a small motor can deliver more energy than one would suspect. The maximum power output of a water motor is determined by two factors. The first is the prevailing water pressure and the second is the water flow rate, which is defined by the pipe diameter and the velocity of the water. The latter factor is rather fixed for narrow pipes, because at velocities above 8 km/h friction becomes problematic.

Water pressure in the town mains is typically between 40 and 70 psi (2.75 to 4.8 bar), and was closer to 70 psi in the nineteenth century. With a water pressure of 70 psi and a pipe diameter of 1.25 cm (a typical size for individual branch lines running to the taps), the maximum power output of a water motor is 0.33 horse power (or 243 watts of mechanical power). Even after you take into account the efficiency loss in the motor, this is quite a lot of power: Two to three times as much as a human operating a pedal powered machine can sustain for an hour or longer.

Water Use

Water motors supplied a need almost entirely unmatched by other new motors from that time, and they exploited a source of energy readily available from centralized systems already built in most urban areas. However, at least in the United States, their succes was short-lived. When electric motors and gasoline engines became available, the water motor lost its attraction. In 1900, the amount of water motors in the US (an estimated 30,000 motors aggregating 26,000 horse power) was about one-fifth of the amount of gasoline engines and one-tenth of the amount of electric motors. [Source: Hunter 1991]

At the end of the nineteenth century, water motors were also used to power electrical devices, especially radios and light bulbs.


The main drawback of water motors was their very high use of potable water. Using a 1.25 cm diameter pipe and a pressure of 70 psi, a water motor consumed 30 litres of water per minute for a power output of 243 watts. This means that it took 7,440 litres of water to produce 1 kWh of mechanical energy. To give an idea: People today in the west consume less than 500 liters of potable water per day, and they consume at least 5 kWh of electric energy per day.

Water powered fan 1

Water powered fan 2

A water powered fan.

If the water pressure dropped below 70 psi, a water motor’s power output decreased with it, while potable water consumption remained the same. The minimum pressure in the public water supply was (and still is) 20 psi (1.4 bar). Below that value, there is a risk of contamination because polluted water could enter the mains through leaks in the pipes.

If you were unlucky and you got a water pressure of just 20 psi, motor output would have been limited to a much less impressive 0.09 hp (67 watt). You could have chosen to restore the power output by increasing the pipe diameter, but that would have further increased the consumption of potable water.

There are many reasons why the water pressure in the town mains could be lower than 70 psi: adoption of a lower water pressure by a company, leaks in the pipelines, structural location of consumer residences in relation to the water tower, or use of a water motor on a higher floor. Water pressure drops by 10 psi per mile of pipeline. Water pressure is generally higher when it enters the house than when it comes out of the tap: It will decrease with every bend in the pipelines, and about 5 psi of pressure is lost each time you go up one floor.

Irregular Water Pressure

Water consumption was further increased by the irregularity of the water pressure. The use of a water tower is advantageous from an energy efficiency viewpoint, because you can create water pressure with low capacity pumps. The pumps only have to meet average demand. A higher than average demand (for instance, when everybody takes a shower in morning) can be dealt with by a decreasing water level in the tower. The reservoir will be filled again when demand is lower than average (mostly at night).

On the other hand, if you choose to create water pressure by pumping water directly into the mains (a modern approach that is gaining popularity), you need high capacity pumps that can meet peak demand, and they will be running inefficiently most of the time.

 While the use of water motors in the US came to an end early in the twentieth century, the Europeans took hydraulic power transmission one step further.

Irregular water pressure is not a problem for the distribution of potable water, but it is very disadvantageous for the use of water motors. If the water level in the tower decreases, so will the water pressure in the pipes. To insure enough motor output in the event of lower water pressures, water motors had to be larger and use larger diameter pipes than strictly necessary, further increasing the use of water, and wasting energy. Irregular water pressures lower the energetic efficiency of a water motor because it achieves its highest efficiency only when it is optimally adjusted to the prevailing water pressure.

Water powered mixer in the box

I love this, a water-powered egg-beater.

In Search of a Better Solution: the Hydraulic Accumulator

As we have mentioned before, the maximum power output by a water motor is determined by two factors: Water pressure and water flow. Increasing the pipe diameter (and thus the flow rate and water use) is only one way to increase the power capacity of a water motor. The other way is to increase the water pressure, which yields much more interesting results. For example, we could produce much more energy with much less water.

With a water pressure of 700 psi (48 bar), which equates to ten times the pressure in the public mains, a water motor connected to a 1.25 cm pipe could produce a power output of 3.3 horse power (or 2,500 watts of mechanical energy). That’s ten times more power for the same 30 litres of water per minute (or ten times less water use for the same power). To create a water pressure of 700 psi, it would be mandatory to build a water tower of almost 500 meters tall. Unfortunately, this is not practical to build.

While the use of water motors in the US came to an end early in the twentieth century, the Europeans found a solution for the high water use of water motors and took hydraulic power transmission one step further. Firstly, they set up special power networks which distributed water under pressure for motive power purposes only. This eliminated the need to use potable water. Secondly, Europe switched to a much higher (and regular) water pressure, which was made possible by the invention of the hydraulic accumulator.



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Tucker Down Under launches it’s first 3 Podcasts…Tucker, Australian for Food!

Tucker down-under has launched as a Podcast on Stitcher, Just press on the Stitcher link on this home page and it takes you straight there – easy peasy!!

tucker iMusic logo

Tucker – Australian for Food!

iTunes will also be online within the week, there are three episodes to enjoy already, episodes 1 and 2 are an interview with the Diggers Club founder and now Chairman, Clive Blazey and there is a third episode with Gillian Kozicki – another amazing Australian, and ex student of mine who is now blazing a trail in the food fermentation space with her brand ‘CulturedArtisans’.

I caught up with Clive in Melbourne for a chat about heirloom fruits and vegetables, edible and forest gardens, and the future of the Diggers Club. Here is one of Australia’s gardening icons, and now in his  70’s, he and his wife founded The Diggers Club in 1978, in a suburban tin shed.

From those humble beginnings, Diggers is now 75,000 members strong. Needless to say when Clive talks, the green army stops and listens, not just in Australia, but now globally. The Diggers Club pioneered cottage gardens in Australia and was and is still is responsible for the discovery and protection of many heritage seeds and plants.

In my first interview with Clive he tells the story about an avid gardener who had found some old seeds and donated them to Diggers, only one germinated, but fortunately this lone bean seed saved a lineage of heritage runner beans from extinction,  in fact Clive tells me it is now one of The Diggers Club’s biggest sellers!

Clive and his wife founded diggers way back in 1978, at a time when the big seed distributors were rationalising their seed offerings and dropping many of the older heirloom seeds and plants from their catalogues. So Clive saw and opportunity to start up a mail order business offering these older tried and tested heirloom seeds over the new hybrids now being offered – hence Diggers was born. The same success happened when Clive responded with drought-tolerant plants and seeds for Australian conditions.

Clive has also written many books, personally I think his book on Tomatoes is a must in any gardening library. His latest book, and the seventh book he’s penned, is provocatively titled ,There is No Excuse for Ugliness, a deliberate prod at many a questionable home garden in Australia.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 10.48.56 AM

A self-taught gardener whose father started Hortico, a major horticultural products company in its day, Clive studied economics and marketing at Melbourne University and started working for the family firm but found it wasn’t for him and left to persue his passion – plants!

As Clive says – “I was more interested in plants rather than what you put on them.”

The Diggers Club, went on to buy Heronswood at Dromana in 1983 and St Erth at Blackwood in 1996, these were then  gifted to an environmental trust five years ago. TheThe Diggers Club today has 130 staff and while Clive’s tells me he’s taken a back step from daily management, he tells me he’s still very hands on!

Here’s a quote from the National Portrait –gallery

“Blazey and the Digger’s Club are largely responsible for the rescue and re-introduction of heirloom vegetable seeds in Australia and lead the battle against the production and distribution of genetically engineered and hybrid crops. Clive and his wife Penny began the club in 1978 in their house at Albert Park. Their company Digger’s aims to ‘explore the relationship between growing and serving fresh food that is full of favour, fresh and inspirational.”

Clive is no wilting Violet and is very vocal when it comes to being pro-organic, and anti-genetic modification. Clive and his wife have now given the people of this country an amazing gift and legacy for future generations and I know he’s very proud of that legacy.


So where to from here for Clive and Diggers? I guess you’ll have to listen to the Tucker Down-Under Podcasts episodes 1 and 2!!

‘Tucker’ – Australian for Food – Cheers, Steve..

Could pedal power become an energy option again?? OK, on your bike!!

Pedal powered farms and factories: Cost effective low tech technology for developing nations?

Pedal powered hydraulic log splitter

If we boost the research on pedal powered technology – trying to make up for seven decades of lost opportunities – and steer it in the right direction, pedals and cranks could make an important contribution to running a post-carbon society that maintains many of the comforts of a modern life. The possibilities of pedal power largely exceed the use of the bicycle.

A wonderful article discovered in an amazing online publication –


One way to solve the large energy losses of pedal power generators is not to produce electricity at all but power devices mechanically, whenever possible. Another way – the only way for devices that cannot be powered via a direct mechanical connection because they do not rely on rotary motion – is to make the generation of electricity more efficient. This can be done by building a pedal powered generator from scratch instead of using a road bicycle, or by ditching one or several electronic components in the power transmission chain. All approaches can be combined, resulting in a pedal power unit that can power a multitude of mechanical devices and generate electricity comparatively efficiently.

Direct Mechanical Power Transmission


Many machines could be powered by a direct mechanical connection, though it generally means adapting the device so that it can work independently of electricity. However, stationary pedal machines with direct mechanical power transmission – although they were common in the old days – are not available commercially in the western world.

The only exception seems to be the Fender Blender, a pedal powered machine used to make smoothies (picture on the right). However, old school bicycle machines are now being designed both by amateurs in the western world and non-profit organisations in the developing world.

In Guatemala, Mayapedal has been building some 2,000 pedal powered machines from old bicycle parts since 2001. To date, the NGO has built pedal powered water pumps, grinders, threshers, tile makers, nut shellers, washing machines and blenders. These cost only $40 to $250 to make. Their contraptions have become more sophisticated and even cheaper to build over time, evolving from adapted bicycles to pedal powered machines built from scratch which incorporate a flywheel, and are capable of driving different types of appliances.

Another example is the VitaGoat Cycle Grinder developed by the Canadian NGO Malnutrition Matters. The pedal powered grinder forms part of a complete food processing system which is delivered to developing countries in Asia and Africa. Chocosol teaches local people in Mexico to build their own pedal powered cacao bean grinders and the Canadian promoters also use the technology in their shop in Toronto. The Full Belly Project designs human powered nut shellers for farmers in Africa.

Pedal powered mill tresher2

Then there are the many contraptions built by individuals too: the pedal powered washing machines by Alex Gadsden and Homeless Dave, the pedal powered soap blender by Frederick Breeden, or the pedal powered apple grinder by Ben Polito. Similar machines have also been built outside the US. Some have concentrated on restoring and putting to use antique machines, like Blue Ox Millworks.

One obvious disadvantage of designing a pedal powered machine for every application in the household, farm or workshop is that you need a lot of space. Furthermore, designing a pedal power unit for every tool might become labour-intensive, costly and energy-intensive.

This is not as much of a problem in cases of small-scale industrial use, where few machines are required in order to manufacture a product. A good example of this is the pedal powered soap blender mentioned above. For this reason, a pedal powered blender could be a realistic option for small businesses, such as a smoothie bar. However, when more tools are needed and space is restricted, as is often the case, we need to find ways to get around this problem. One solution is to use pedal power to generate electricity which can then be used to power different devices. However, this approach is highly inefficient with energy losses of up to more than 70 percent and should be avoided whenever a device can be powered in a mechanical way.


The design of universal pedal powered units with direct mechanical transmission was extensively researched in the 1970s


Another solution is to design a universal pedal power unit with direct mechanical transmission that can be used to operate a large variety of different tools and devices (including a generator). This method, which solves both the space and inefficiency problem, was extensively researched in the 1970s.

Interchangeable thresher and degrainer mayapedal

Multi-purpose Pedal Powered Machines

Universal pedal powered machines did not exist at the turn of the twentieth century, although some combined a few functions (both sawing and drilling, for instance). At least five interesting inventions were designed and built in the 1970s: the Energy Cycle (by Dirk Ott), the Dynapod (by Alex Weir), the Human Powered Flywheel Motor (by JP Modak), the Pedal Power Unit (by David Weightman) and the Dual-Purpose Bicycle (by Job Ebenezer). All these concepts are also of interest for the construction of single-purpose pedal power units.

The Dynapod

After experimenting with single-purpose pedal powered machines in several countries in Africa, British engineer Alex Weir (who is also the promoter of this online low-tech database) built a multi-purpose ‘Dynapod‘ (the name stemming from the Greek words for ‘power’ and ‘foot’) in Tanzania in the early 1970s. The power module, based on a 1968 concept by Stuart Wilson of Oxford University, came in a one-man and two-man version. The tandem unit doubled the power output, and at the same time evened out the power flow, with both sets of pedals placed out of phase.

Dynapod drawing

The Dynapod was made using a custom-built frame. Apart from pedals, cranks and chain drives, the machine shared nothing with a bicycle. The first designs used wooden frames, while later versions were based on a steel frame. For a flywheel, Weir used an old bicycle wheel filled with cement. The cost of the wooden frame unit (in 1980) was $40 to $100, materials and labour included.

The Dynapod could drive pumps, corn grinders, winnowing machines, forge blowers, grinding machines, drilling machines, potter’s wheels, paint sprayers, crop dusting equipment, cassave graters, coffee pulpers, grain hullers, fibre decorticators, threshers, balers, band saws, tire pumps and sewing machines. It could also be used to generate electricity.


Apart from pedals, cranks and chain drives, these human powered machines share nothing with a bicycle.


To allow the operation of such a wide diversity of appliances, the Dynapod was equipped with multiple drives. It could be operated with a direct drive having a ratio of 1:1 (when a lot of torque was needed at a slow speed), a chain drive with a ratio of up to 3:1 (a compromise between torque and speed for operating grinders, threshers, etc.) or a belt drive with a ratio of up to 10:1 (for electrical generation, a winnowing fan, and other uses where high speeds were required). The machine was easily adapted from one drive to another. Multiple drives on pedal powered machines were not a novelty – some earlier pedal powered machines had them too.

Energy cycle exploded viewThe Energy Cycle

Rodale Press, the publisher of the 1977 book ‘Pedal Power in Work, Leisure and Transportation‘ also had a research team – Rodale’s Research and Development Department. Together with inventor Dick Ott they conceived their version of a universal pedal power unit, the ‘Energy Cycle’.

 Just like the Dynapod, it was built from scratch and could accommodate a large number of detachable tools. These included kitchen aids (such as an egg beater, can opener, nut chopper, food grinder, fish skinner, meat and cheese slicer and a cherry pitter), farm machinery (including an irrigation water pump, feather plucker, potato digger, corn sheller, grain cleaner, rice polisher and oatmeal roller) and more general tools (like a wheel grinder, stone polisher, drill, wood carver and battery charger).

Several improved prototypes were built, first of iron, and then of steel. For the first upgrade of the design, a large work table was added to the unit which enabled the operator to perform numerous tasks without leaving his seat. Later versions were equipped with a flywheel. Experiments showed that the unit offered considerable benefits in comparison with hand powered machines or small horse power motors and engines. The main challenge remains in finding a universal means of attaching each implement to the Energy Cycle – which should be easily overcome if serious industrial research is dedicated to it.

Pedal powered winch 44

Pedal Powered Winch: Substituting a Farm Horse or Tractor

Both the Dynapod and the Energy Cycle could also double up as a pedal powered winch, offering a whole new array of possibilities. A winch is useful for pulling, excavating, load lifting, or snow plowing. In agriculture, a winch can be utilized for cable-cultivation, a principle in which the motive power for plowing (or harrowing, cultivating, seeding and hay raking) is stationary and only the tool (attached to a multifunctional mobile tool carrier) moves across the field along a cable.

This agricultural method is based on steam cable plowing, which was the only mechanized method of agriculture for almost one hundred years. Cable-cultivation brings considerable savings in energy, because the motive power – be it human, animal or mechanical – does not have to waste power in moving itself over the soil. Additional advantages are the avoidance of soil compaction, a notable drawback of using a tractor, and the possibility to work on waterlogged ground and steep slopes.


Cable-cultivation is a principle in which the motive power for plowing (or harrowing, cultivating, seeding and hay raking) is stationary and only the tool moves across the field along a cable.


Pedal powered winch 3

In a field left fallow for a year, the Energy Cycle pulled a plough through the grass and weed covered soil, successfully substituting the work of a farm horse or tractor. One person pedalled the winch that drew the plough through the soil while another guided it. It took the two presons about an hour to plow 1,500 square feet. The only difficulty was that the winch had the tendency to break or bend ordinary hand tools. Because of this problem, and because the Energy Cycle held so much promise as a garden and farm tool, the research team built a specialized pedal powered winch and special tools to be used with it.

This more compact unit – basically two pedals separated by a spool mounted on bearings, built into a frame which also supports the seat – was capable of pulling over 1000 lbs (453 kg) with average pedalling effort, amplifying human power by almost ten times. Together with a specially designed frame that could hold different attachments, it was successfully used for pulling, snow plowing, dislodging small stumps and pulling seeders, harrows and hay rakes.

Low gears were used for jobs requiring a slow, powerful pull, such as plowing through heavy soil. Second or high gears were used for easier jobs such as harrowing or cultivating. In order to be moved sideways so as to easily cultivate one row after the other, a pedal powered winch can be mounted on skids. The weight of the operator provides sufficient anchorage while in use.

Pedal powered wood strip cutter
Human Powered Flywheel Motor

An interesting variation on the multi-purpose pedal powered machine is the Human Powered Flywheel Motor(pdf) designed by J.P. Modak, an emeritus engineering professor from India. The remarkable feature of Modak’s machine – which has been developed since 1979 – is that it can deliver much more power than the human who operates it.


The human powered flywheel motor can deliver much more power than the person who operates it


The machine system uses human energy and stores it in a flywheel at an energy-input rate convenient to the pedaller. After storing the maximum possible energy in the flywheel (pedalling time is 1 to 2 minutes), it is made available for the actuation of the process unit by the rapid release of the stored kinetic energy in the flywheel via a suitable clutch. The concept only works when the process can be of intermittent nature without affecting the end product.

Human powered brick machine
The human powered flywheel motor was initially developed for the making of bricks for a housing authority in Mumbai, India. Since then, it has been successfully used for several rural-based production activities such as water lifting, algae formation processing, wood turning, winnowing, wood strip cutting, electricity generation and the operation of a smiths hammer. Processes needing up to 6 HP could be energised by the machine concept (although only one third of this has been achieved to date). This would be about 20 to 60 times more than what an average human can sustain either momentarily (300 watts) or for long periods (100 watts).

Pedal powered algae processing unit
The energy unit consists of an existing bicycle frame which provides a seat and handle, a pair of speed-increasing gears, and a flywheel of about one metre in diameter. The transmission consists of a spiral clutch and a torque-amplification gear pair. For brick manufacturing in particular, the process unit consists of an auger, cone and die, conventionally used for motorized brick-extruders for the manufacture of clay bricks.

Combining Stationary and Mobile Pedal Power

A very different approach to multi-purpose pedal powered machines was followed by David Weightman. His concept (and prototype) was inspired by the Dynapod, but Weightman added one feature: the machine should still be usable for transportation. His Pedal Power Unit (PPU) was comprised of a bicycle wheel in forks fitted to a frame with a saddle. The unit could then be used independently to drive machinery via a power takeoff but could also be connected to a two-wheel chassis to form a load-carrying tricycle. Furthermore, the unit could be connected in series with other units for machine applications requiring more power. Weightman justified his concept by emphasising the close link between transport and machine use in agricultural and industrial production:

“In a typical agricultural growing cycle, seed and fertilizer are transported to the field, crops are grown and then processed by machinery, and then produce is transported to the market. Similar patterns can be seen in construction and small scale industrial production. The use of a pedal power unit in this dual purpose role is exactly analagous to the use of tractors in European agriculture as power sources and transport devices. The PPU is equally suitable as the Dynapod when operating a number of machines but is more economically feasible for an individual farmer due to its capability as a transport device.”


The Dual-Purpose Bicycle looks very similar to the electricity generators which are sold today, though it is aimed at mechanically driving multiple machines and producing electricity


Job Ebenezer from the MGO ‘Technology for the Poor‘ further developed this design, simplifying it greatly by substituting the tricycle for a bicycle. At first sight, his ‘Dual-Purpose Bicycle‘ looks very similar to the electricity generating units which are sold today, though it is aimed at mechanically driving multiple machines and producing electricity.

Dual purpose bicycle ebenezer
The ingenious design, primarily for agricultural use, consists of a very small flywheel attached to a standard bicycle, which permits its use as a pedal-powered machine that can be utilized to power numerous small-scale mechanical devices such as grain threshers, grinders, winnowers, peanut shellers, corn shellers, circular saws, wood working lathes, water pumps, electrical generators, and a variety of small tools.

The contraption can be converted from the transportation mode to pedal power mode in a matter of minutes. The broad stand, which provides stability during power production, can be flipped upward during the transport mode and doubles up as a freight carrier. The power-generating device remains attached to the bicycle in transportation mode, so that it can be easily transported and used immediately. Of course, this pedal power unit is a compromise, but it is an interesting one.

Christoph thetard kitchen device

Contrary to modern concepts, it has a small flywheel and it does not use a friction drive because of its low efficiency. During the prime-mover mode, the bike’s regular chain is slipped off of the chain-wheel, and a custom chain to the power take-off mechanism is slipped on. Changing gear ratios is as simple as it is on a road bike. For driving more powerful devices, a larger flywheel can be placed between the power module and the process unit.  


The many advantages of pedal powered machines don’t make hand cranks or treadles obsolete. Not all devices need the extra torque of pedal power. Hand cranks and treadles can be a better option if power requirements are low or if power is only needed over a short period. A hand cranked device is much more compact than a pedal powered device. If hand control is required while operating low power equipment, treadles remain the best choice because they offer the operator more freedom of movement than pedals.

Of course, both mechanisms can also benefit from advantages in modern design and materials – including speed or torque increasing gears. A good example is theR2B2 kitchen unit by German designer Christoph Thetard (which is not for sale, unfortunately). It combines three kitchen appliances with a central driving unit. The heart of the unit is a treadle powered flywheel which works as an short-term energy storage (as in the Human Powered Flywheel Motor), capable of delivering up to 350 watts (of mechanical power) to the appliances. Similar to late 19th century machines, and contrary to today’s kitchen devices, it is built to last.

Lowering the Costs and Energy Losses of Pedal Powered Electricity

Many modern machines and devices cannot be powered directly by mechanical energy. This is especially true for electronic equipment (such as computers, cell phones, televisions, routers, etc.) but it is also true for refrigerators and light bulbs. If we want to keep these modern comforts, we have to find a way to make pedal powered electricity more efficient. There are several ways to do this.

 1. Build a Generator from Scratch

Because it has few disadvantages, the best way to start is to build a pedal generator from scratch instead of using a bicycle on a training stand. This allows you to replace the friction drive by a more efficient drive, like a chain drive, and to add a flywheel.

Pedal powered prime mover

Steel flywheels can be found on the most expensive exercise bicycles. However, a flywheel can also be cheap, low-tech and just as efficient when you are using a bicycle wheel filled with concrete or a wooden tabletop. The latter is used by the ‘Pedal Powered Prime Mover‘ (PPPM) made by David Butcher, which is one of the few good examples of a pedal powered electricity generator built from scratch (the plans sell for $50 and the cost for the DIY version is estimated at $230). It consists of a steel frame made of steel shelving supports.

 Although the PPPM uses a friction drive, it is a rather efficient one because it is basically powered by a wooden tyre – the flywheel. Since higher tyre pressure increases the efficiency of a friction drive, a wooden wheel can be considered a bicycle wheel with optimal tyre pressure. Furthermore, the flywheel is powered directly by the pedals, eliminating the energy loss in chains and sprockets altogether (it is a ‘direct drive’ in other words). The only drawback of this method is that you can’t change the gear ratio.

Butcher (who built his first machine in the seventies) claims an improved efficiency of 25 to 50% compared to a standard bicycle on a training stand. Interestingly, it can also power some devices via a direct mechanical connection: a water pump, a hammer, a masonry chisel, an air compressor and a hack saw. Building a pedal powered machine from scratch can thus offer you the best of both worlds.

2. Ditch the Electronics

 You can go much further in order to improve the efficiency of a pedal powered generator. In the most extreme case, you could skip the voltage regulator, the converter and the battery, which leaves you only with the energy loss of the generator. Or you can leave out either one of these devices.


In the most extreme case, you could skip the voltage regulator, the converter and the battery, which leaves you only with the energy loss of the generator



However, all these actions come with a price. If you do away with the converter, you need to replace the electrical devices you use. What you need, then, are DC-appliances like the ones you can plug in the interior of your car. While this can be an interesting option because of the high efficiency loss of a converter (25%), not all appliances come in a DC-variant (there are no DC-laptops, for instance*).

If you do away with the voltage regulator – and several of the pedal powered generators come without them – you have to carefully watch a multimeter while pedalling to make sure that the voltage does not exceed the capacity of the battery (or the device you are powering if you do away with the battery too). If not, you could destroy the battery (or the device, if you don’t use a battery). A flywheel can be of great help here, because it smooths out not only the energy input (the alternating high and low force of a natural pedalling rhythm) but also the energy output, keeping the voltage relatively constant. 

3. Get rid of the Battery


Doing away with the battery, or replacing it with a much more efficient and robust ultracapacitator, is probably the most rewarding thing you can do, not just in terms of efficiency, but also in terms of costs, reliability and – especially – sustainability. (Capacitators have a much longer service life than batteries, but a much lower energy density). However, you lose the advantage of generating energy and storing it for later use. In this case, you would have to pedal while using the device at the same time, as is the case with direct mechanical power transmission.

Whether or not this is convenient is dependent on what you want to use your generator for. If you mainly want to charge your laptop or cell phone, not having a battery to store the electricity isn’t a problem since the devices themselves have a battery. However, if you want to light the staircase room or power a television, desktop computer, electric guitar or small fridge, this becomes rather awkward. If you want to play recorded music and dance, not using a battery would also be difficult.

 4. Build large-scale Pedal Power Plants

Improving the efficiency of pedal powered electricity generation becomes easier as you organise it on a larger scale. In most of the arts and education projects described earlier, like the BBC program or pedal powered concerts, no batteries are used. The key here is that it is not one person both generating and consuming power, but a large group of people, of whom some are producing electricity whilst others are consuming it.


In a similar fashion, electricity could be generated in large pedal powered electricity plants, and then distributed to houses, shops, public spaces and factories. This is more efficient than doing it in each house separately because you can do away with the batteries and still offer electricity 24 hours a day. Power plants would simply add more pedallers when demand is high (such as during peaks hours) and send them home when demand is low (at night, for instance).


Pedal powered electricity plants could be a valuable backup solution to intermittent renewable energy sources


Human powered electricity plants should avoid the transmission losses of today’s extremely centralized power network. They should preferably be located in every neighbourhood or city district. In this scenario, it also becomes possible to do away with converters and switch the electricity distribution system from AC to DC, since the former was only chosen because it is more efficient to transport electricity over large distances. Of course, this is less plausible, since it means rewiring cities and replacing all devices.

Pedal powered nut shellerThe future of Pedal Powered Machines

If we boost the research on pedal powered technology – trying to make up for seven decades of lost opportunities – and steer it in the right direction, pedals and cranks could make an important contribution to running a post-carbon society that maintains many of the comforts of a modern life. The possibilities of pedal power therefore largely exceed the use of the bicycle.

Pedallers could power agriculture, factories, construction, mining and even other means of  transportation than bicycles:aerial ropeways, cable trains and trolleyboats. Pedal powered electricity plants could be a valuable backup solution to intermittent renewable energy sources, replacing coal, gas and nuclear as a base load power for when the sun and wind let us down. Human power is available 24 hours per day, is not affected by changes in the weather, is portable and can easily be stored for later use. Contrary to wind and biomass, it is an energy source that will never be depleted, since its potential keeps pace with population growth. Pedal power would also aid unemployment, leave us with a fit and healthy workforce, and produce a great deal of nice-looking bottoms.

The Limits of Pedal Power

Of course, pedal power can only make a difference if we drastically reduce energy consumption. While athletes can produce a power output of over 2,000 watts on a bicycle, they can only sustain this over a period of a few seconds. The power that can be delivered by the average person over a sustained period of time is much less impressive than that: 75 watts or 1 “hup”. This unit of measurement (short for human power) was proposed in 1984, and tells us that an average person can sustain one hup for all day, 2 hups (150 watts) for roughly two hours, 3 hups (225 watts) for about 30 minutes and 4 hups (300 watts) only momentarily.


The absence of self-produced cooling winds results in possible overheating of the body


 FanAnother reason not to be overly-optimistic about the energy output of stationary pedalling is the fact that a stationary pedaller does not need to overcome air resistance. This sounds like a good thing, because at higher speeds a cyclist spends most of his energy compensating for air resistance. However, air resistance also keeps the active human body from overheating.

It was found that the power output measured by ergometers (stationary bikes used to measure the power output of cyclists) is substantially lower than that produced by the same persons on the road because the absence of self-produced cooling winds, which results in possible overheating of the body (this is also a problem with velomobiles). A (self-propelled) fan could keep the stationary pedaller cool, but it is only a partial solution. As David Wilson notes in ‘Bicycling Science‘:

“The relative air flow generated by cycling is of such magnitude that it bears little resemblance to the drafts produced by the small electric fans often used for cooling people pedalling ergometers. At a speed of about 9m/s about 150 watts are dissipated into the air. Even if cooling fans of this power level were used [negating the power production by the pedaller, kdd], the cooling effect would be much less than that for the moving cyclist, because most of the fan power is dissipated as air friction in areas other than around the subject’s body.”

While body heat production might provide interesting side-effects in winter – you and even other people in a small room would not need heating – it would definitely limit the energy that can be delivered by pedal power. Pedalling outside when it’s windy may help, but this is not always possible.

Pedal powered drop forge hammer
Wanted: 1.2 billion Pedallers for the UK

The main problem, however, lies in the demand for pedallers. To give you an idea, let’s see how many people would be needed in order to use pedal power at a base load power plant. An average UK family consumes about 13 kWh of electricity per day (an American family would consume at least twice as much). If we consider a relatively small energy loss of 25% when converting human power to electricity, it would take 173 hours of pedalling at 100 watts (thus over one ‘hup’) in order to produce 75 Wh per hour. If we presume an electricity consumption that is evenly distributed over the course of 16 hours and no electricity consumption at night, this would take two shifts of ten people each pedalling non-stop for eight hours. And this concerns only residential electricity use.

If we consider total electricity consumption in the UK, each person needs 15.7 kWh per day, or two teams of ten people each pedalling non-stop for 8 hours. The UK would have to import a workforce of 1.2 billion people (a number equal to all the inhabitants of India) to pedal its way into energy independence, and prohibit all these people from using electricity themselves.

Here we are not even considering peaks in demand, but average consumption. And we are talking only about electricity consumption, not heating and transportation fuels. Of course wind and solar could help to diminish the need for base load pedal power. But when there is no sun or no wind, the power would have to be supplemented.

On the Other Hand/Foot

In other parts of the world, things are slightly different. If all Nepalese people could pedal two hours per day, the country would be entirely pedal powered, even without the support of other renewables. Interestingly, the NGOEcosystems Nepal distributes pedal powered generators to Nepalese villages where they are used in a scenario somewhat similar to the one envisioned above. A village is equipped with one pedal power generator, which is pedalled for eight hours per day, charging large batteries.


The main problem with our approach to pedal powered machines is that we compare them to fossil fuel powered machines and not to the inefficient human powered tools and machines that went before them.


This village ‘power plant’ is then visited by the people living in the countryside in the surroundings of the village, who pass by once a month or so to charge their small motorcycle batteries. Even taking into account the considerable energy losses (in using batteries to charge batteries) one pedal generator provides enough electricity for 200 homes. This is possible because small batteries only need to power 0.2 watt led-lamps, enough to read a book. I am afraid that even my Kindle uses more than that, and it has no reading light.

Cranks and pedals are not a solution at all if we decide to cling to an energy-intensive lifestyle – but then, neither is any other renewable (or even non-renewable) energy source. The main problem with our approach to pedal powered machines is that we compare them to fossil fuel powered machines and not to the inefficient human powered tools and machines that went before them. This explains why pedal power is often laughed at in the western world but enthusiastically welcomed in the developing world, where, for instance, methods of agriculture still rely heavily on the use of human power using primitive tools which are usually inefficient. This is a scenario in which light is produced by dirty and inefficient kerosine lamps, or where there is no light at all.

Ironically, communities in the poorest countries in the world are developing into sustainable societies independent of fossil fuels, enjoying basic but modern comforts, while we continue to be ever more dependent on increasingly dirty, dangerous and diminishing energy sources.

Kris De Decker (edited by Deva Lee) –

The Tomato Festival Sydney is on again – Bigger and better than ever!!!

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The Tomato Festival is on again in the Royal Botanical Gardens Sydney, it’s bigger and better than last year, and yours truly will be once again presenting centre stage on the Sunday. Just have a read of the program below, it’s just jammed packed with things to do. Check out the farmers market, judge the different tomatoes or just come and eat fantastic food with family and friends!

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I will be pod casting the festival and talking to Kim Ellis, the Director of the RBGS and his team at the garden’s 200th birthday this year!

We will also be discussing the initiatives at the gardens and it’s amazing indigenous history on the new Tucker – Australian for Food net channel To be launched on March 1st through  iTunes.

Tucker Downunder logo_Master_colour

Join us, at this FREE festival that celebrates the wonderful world of the humble tomato! The Festival Village will feature the D’VineRipe Cooking & Learning Hub, produce stalls, tomato taste tests, children’s activities, themed guided walks, plant sales and much more.

Free talks are first in best dressed so view the full program now so you don’t miss out.

Date and time:
Sat 20 – Sun 21 Feb, 10 am – 4 pm
Fun for all the family
Transport info:
Public transport recommended. Limited parking available.
Free entry. Some workshops, activities and lunches are ticketed.
More info:
Road closures will be in place from 4 pm on Mrs Macquaries Rd and Art Gallery Rd on Saturday 20 February as a result of The Colour Run Night. Vehicles to exit no later than 4.30 pm.

Download the Tomato Festival Sydney 2016 Program and Map

The D’VineRipe Longest Tomato Lunch

Take a seat at our 70 metre long table as part of the longest tomato lunch ever! The foreshore lawns will be transformed into a fabulous long lunch setting where you can relax over a delicious tomato inspired menu, enjoy the company of family and friends while looking out over the most spectacular botanic garden and harbour in the world. Bookings close today –  19 February – see you there!!

Book now!

Date and time : 12 pm. Sunday 21 February 2016

Free Activities

There are plenty of free activities at Tomato Festivals including a wide range of celebrated Australian producers selling produce that goes brilliantly with tomatoes and chillies, Insightful cooking demonstrations, free talks with Royal Botanic Garden staff and industry experts, tomato taste testing (11.30 am – 1.00 pm daily) and a one-hour free guided walk ‘From our Garden to the Table’ highlighting many of the Garden’s edible plants. (11 am and 2 pm daily).


Naturally, there are plenty of opportunities for you to taste tomatoes at Tomato Festival! Join us for cooking demonstrationstomato taste testing (11.30 am – 1.00 pm daily) and stroll through the ever-popular Relish ‘pop-up’ cafe and bar featuring mouth-watering and innovative tomato-inspired dishes.

Four-course tomato-themed lunch

Set in the Botanic Gardens Restaurant, Trippas White Group Executive Chef Ashley Hughes’ sumptuous four-course menu showcases the not-so-humble tomato and the very best seasonal ingredients.

When: Saturday 20 February, 12 pm – 2 pm

Cost: $69 per person

Bookings essential: or phone (02) 9241 2419.


Work up an appetite on this Aztec Adventure!

Grab your passport and follow the trail through the Garden to find the activity stations. Get involved with hands-on fun and discover some of the delicious foods and weird customs of the ancient Aztecs.

When: Both days, 10 am – 2.45 pm (various session times)
Where: Meet Tomato Festival Village
Cost: $10 (+ bf)
Bookings: essential online.

Pizza Plants

This hands-on activity will take your kids and their taste buds on a delicious adventure to find pizza ingredients in the Garden. They will plant some herbs and use various plants to make their own munchalicious mini-pizza! Suitable for children aged 6-12 years old.

When: Both days, 10.30 am – 12 noon and 1 pm – 2.30 pm
Where: Lion Gate Lodge
Cost: Members $16.50 (+bf), non-members $18 (+bf)
Bookings: essential online.


Didgeridoo Lessons

Come along and learn how to play the oldest instrument of Aboriginal Australia – the Didgeridoo. Feel the spiritual connection as you play and experience the deep sound from the underground. I am certainly going to give this a go, although it’s much harder than it looks!

Please note – In respect to Aboriginal cultural protocol, Didgeridoo lessons will be for men only. Women are welcome to stay and watch but won’t be able to play the Didgeridoo.

When: Saturday 20 February from 10 am (various session times)
Where: Meet Tomato Festival Village
Cost: $15 (+ bf)
Bookings: essential online.

Join us for insightful cooking demonstrations in the D’VineRipe Cooking & Learning Hub including Bush Tucker, tomato chilli salsa and fermentation lecture (by who else but me) and making and green tomato & chilli pickling!

Free talks with Royal Botanic Garden staff and industry experts. The talk includes topics on tomato history, potatoes, composting and importance of bees.

Tomato taste testing (11.30 am daily).

Join our Volunteer Guides for a one-hour free guided walk ‘From our Garden to the Table’ highlighting many of the Garden’s edible plants. (11 am and 2 pm daily).

Produce Market

Australian producers:

D’VineRipe, Tomato Festival Sydney’s major partner, will be showcasing a range of tomatoes grown in their state-of-the-art glasshouse at Two Wells South Australia, including truss, Romatherapy® baby roma, Sweet Solanato™ and Tomato Medley.

Highland Gourmet Potatoes who grow in the fertile potato District of Robertson NSW around 40 different varieties of potatoes! Norman will also be giving a fabulous talk on potatoes.

Sorbello Family Fresh Produce who specialise in heirloom tomatoes plus heirloom cucumbers and also have a great range of herbs.

Pukara Estate from the Upper Hunter Valley produce a wonderful range of distinctive regional olive oils, vinegar and condiments.

The Original Smoke & Spice Company who sell a range of delicious smoked condiments including garlic and fermented Black garlic, smoked solar sea salt and lemon smoked solar sea salt.

Donna Does new kid on the block, specialising in exciting all-natural, homemade chutneys, jams, pickles and relishes.

The Chilli Effect is a brand new chilli sauce company launching this February! They work with local chilli growers to bring a gourmet sauce range that combines the fresh flavours of hot fresh chillies with great spices and herbs.

Cornersmith food is about following the seasons, not the latest fad; it’s about opening your eyes to the bounty available in your own neighbourhood and showing you best how to use it. Pickles and preserves available for sale as well as a pickling demonstration in the D’VineRipe Cooking & Learning Hub.

Pepe Saya Butter Co. specialises in cultured butter made using the best local milk. The ‘culture’ in Pepe’s butter is the good bacteria (lactobacillus) which is added to the cream, fermented for 24 hours and left to ripen over 3 weeks. The cultures eat the sugar (Lactose) in the cream and turn it into lactic acid (souring the cream), which adds flavour to the butter. Fermented, Perfected then Churned.

Plant Sales by the Growing Friends

The Growing Friends’ will be selling pots of a new cherry tomato called Heartbreaker at this year’s Tomato Festival Sydney. This wonderful variety produces heart-shaped red cherry tomatoes, and will be sold with fruit on the plant. They will also be selling pots of Sweet Basil, Curled Parsley and Coriander. Foundation and Friends of the Botanic Gardens is a proud partner of the Tomato Festival Sydney.

To buy Heartbreaker cherry tomatoes, Sweet Basil, Curled Parsley and Coriander visit our stall in the village.

Proceeds from plants sales help Foundation and Friends of the Botanic Gardens to support science, horticulture, conservation and education programs across the three Botanic Gardens.


Do you grow the nation’s best tomatoes, or perhaps you pride yourself on your home-made tomato sauces, relishes and chutneys? Put your talent to the test!

Best in show homegrown tomatoes

Judges Hints – 
Taste is key to a delicious tomato other aspects are important too. The following points in no particular order, will be taken into consideration when exhibits are judged

  • Colour
  • Smell
  • Flavour
  • Texture
  • Overall appearance
  • Weight (for exhibits in ‘heaviest’ category)

Judges – 
The judging panel will include industry experts and horticultural staff from the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.

Enter nowBest in Show’ Home-Grown Tomatoes (Online entries close 5 pm, Thursday 18 February 2016.  For late ripening tomatoes bring your exhibit on Sunday 21 February and register at the Loading Dock between 10 am – 12 pm.)

Tomato Relish / Chutney

Judges Hints – 
Relish & chutney are very similar condiments, the terms are often used interchangeably, but some general differences do exist. Chutneys are cooked longer than most relishes are. As a result, the texture and consistency of the two condiments tend to vary. Most chutneys are also sweeter than most relishes, but the taste of the chutney can be spicy or sour as well. The biggest difference between relish and chutney, however, is where the two condiments originated.

Make sure your exhibit does not suffer from spice overload and dominate the tomato flavours.

The following points in no particular order, will be taken into consideration when exhibits are judged

  • Visual presentation; clarity, colour
  • Texture and consistency
  • Flavour balance (acidity, sweetness)
  • Overall presentation

Judges – 
The judging panel will include Ashley Hughes, Executive Chef, The Trippas White Group, Alex Elliott-Howery, owner Cornersmith and other discerning palates.

Entries now closed.

Passata Sauce Challenge

Judges Hints – 
The secret for passata lies in reducing the pulp to the desired consistency and striving for some ‘wow factor’ in the flavour! We all love a little spice in life, the key word here is a little, be careful spice does not dominate the tomato flavour, after all it is a tomato sauce.
The following points, in no particular order, will be taken into consideration when exhibits are judged:

  • Consistency and colour
  • Balance of flavour and acidity
  • ‘Wow’ factor
  • Overall presentation

Judges – 
The judging panel will include Ashley Hughes, Executive Chef, The Trippas White Group, Alex Elliott-Howery, owner Cornersmith and other discerning palates.

Entries now closed unfortunately

Chilli Sauce – New Competition in 2016!

Judges Hints – 

Chilli sauce may be hot, sweet or a combination of both with a range of origins including Asia, America, Mexico and South America. The secret lies in reducing the sauce to the desired consistency and striving for a balance of heat and flavour.

The following points, in no particular order, will be taken into consideration when exhibits are judged:

  • Consistency and colour
  • Balance of flavour and heat
  • Aroma
  • Overall presentation

The judging panel will include Ashley Hughes, Executive Chef, The Trippas White Group, Alex Elliott-Howery, owner Cornersmith and other discerning palates.

Entries now closed.


Not only the glory but great prizes to be won:


Tucker Downunder logo_Master_colour

It takes guts to stay looking young and healthy..


To help your gut return to a healthy state, you will need to look at your prebiotic and probiotic food intake!!


A friend of mine said to me the other day “I would like to look young and be slim and vibrantly healthy, but I do not want to live like a zealot so I will put up with being over weight, looking older than my years and put up with being unwell”.

Living like a zealot is not a happy state of mind, so in actual fact, it too is ageing. Finding balance in your life – a balance which works for you, will become your fountain of youth. The following information is only a guideline, that is, for you to pick and choose, and make it what you will.

Eat for health

Eating hard to digest food puts a huge of strain on your digestion, gut and liver. This stress wrecks havoc with your immune system thus causing you to age. Listen to your body when you eat. If you are gluten intolerant per say, a healthy crusty seeded slice of sunflower and linseed bread, could be more harmful to your body than a bag of hot chips!

You will know if your body is happy when eating something or not. As in happy, I am saying, feeling comfortable with the food. For example; You drink a cup of green, peppermint or other herbal tea with honey. Your stomach feels warm and calm. If you are not a herbal tea fan, your taste buds may not be satiated though, so you drink a cup of normal tea with a teaspoon of sugar and milk. If you find that your stomach feels exactly the same, then the normal tea with milk and sugar is fine. If you feel a little discomfort, you know there could be a issue with the caffeine, the milk or the sugar.

You may then decide to eat a bowl of salad greens, carrots, beetroot, and sauerkraut, with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar – flavour may seem average – but the stomach feels fine. Add a tomato, all still ok? Or do you burp, or feel ill at ease? You add a avocado – yum! Or do you feel heavy.

Simply what I am saying is that you need to listen to your digestion when you eat. I find I have to eat a pile of vegetables before eating anything else – my body likes the prebiotic effect. Find what works for you. Once you learn to listen to your body, you will enjoy your food more, you will feel less tired, less bloated, loose weight and improve your immune system beyond measure.

There are certain foods you just need to avoid, like it or not, or only eat them in minimal quantities;

  • Fatty foods – take away foods such as fatty burgers, fried chicken, hot chips, ice cream sundaes, chips, hot dogs etc.
  • Processed foods – processed meats, packaged foods full of fillers and sugars, processed cheese, instant soup packs, tinned meals and pre cooked prepared instant meals (read the back of the pack, some are fine).
  • Sugar laden foods – packaged foods, breakfast cereals (again read the back of the packet), ice-cream – you would be surprised at what is actually in many so called ice-creams, some contain pretty well everything except milk or cream!
  • Chemical laden foods – read the back of every thing you buy, you will be amazed at what those so called healthy foods often contain. If it has a number on the back – don’t eat it! Also be aware that the vegetables you buy in the shops are all sprayed with pesticides – these pesticides build up in your body and wreak havoc with your immune system. There are now more and more links between these ‘safe’ chemical spays and cancer. ( This does not include organic vegetables, but why they need to pack these in plastic????)

Listen to your body and it will tell you what works for it and what does not. Do you crave sugars and processed foods and fats? This could mean you have a gut flora issue. When your gut does not have enough healthy flora and is toxic, it will demand more toxic foods to maintain its unhealthy state!

To help your gut return to a healthy state, you will have to look at your prebiotic and probiotic food intake – for more information on how to do this click on this link remember all health starts from a healthy gut, all ill health starts there too!

From a blog post FEBRUARY, 2016

The search goes on for the fountain of youth…how fast are you ageing?

Source: In search of the fountain of youth 2


In my last blog post I discussed that the reason we aged was not about the candles on our cake, but how healthy our immune system was. Saying that we must keep our immune systems strong is all fine – but how do we go about this?

But before we go there – we must first ask; How fast are you ageing?

The following will effect how well or badly you are ageing;

Are you within your healthy weight range, or are you 4 or more kilos overweight?

Carrying around extra weight is stressful, not just on your back or joints, but on your immune system as well. This is even so for young women and men, what you eat or do not in your youth, will come back to haunt you in your later years. As a menopausal, pre menopausal (from 37 years onwards) or post menopausal woman, keeping the weight off unless you by nature are a naturally slim woman who looses weight as her muscle mass decreases, becomes a major challenge. This unfortunately must be addressed by changing the way you exercise as well as what you eat. Strangely enough it is not just the cakes and biscuits which will pack on the pounds, it is also the large meals, and indigestible foods which will cause you to gain weight. For men, this starts in your 60s as you go through andropause, and find that your digestion cannot cope with what you used to get away with in youth…

Read more – In search of the fountain of youth 2

Fermented Food – The Best Hangover Cure

The best hangover cure, and it’s good for you…

Fermented Food Freak

fermented food in a cellar It has been quite a while since I was seriously hungover. So, probably I shouldn’t act like an expert here.

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