On Becoming a Sumbiovore

Symbiocene Food and Becoming a Sumbiovore (From Earth Emotions 2019).

Generation Symbiocene will appreciate more than any earlier generation that “you are what you eat”. As we further investigate the human gut microbiome, it is clear that the relationship, between the foods we consume, and the characteristics of our gut bacterial communities, is an intimate one. The nutrition we get from food depends on the health of our gut bacteria. Our total well-being, including our mental health, is intimately connected to the individual gut microbiome.

In the future, gene sequencing will be able to give us our gut flora profile, and fine-tune our bodily needs and food to achieve optimal health. Regionally, and even individually, we will be able to optimize the ecosystem health of our region, its food and our bodily health, all based on the co-evolution of microbiomes with mesobiomes. This is not new, but it seems new, because we now have the technologies to make explicit that which was always implicit in our evolutionary past. With new knowledge, it will be possible to repair the damage done to the symbiotic interconnections that make our bodies and the meso biomes healthy.

For Gen S to eat ethically, and as a reflection of Symbiocene principles, they must become “sumbiovores”.[1] Humans have already created agricultural systems that, in varying degrees, respect forms of life, and maintain the fertility of places that produce food sustenance over the long term. “Sumbioculture” enhances these existing ‘sustainable’ forms of agriculture such as permaculture, organic and biodynamic farming. They will all become consistent with the health of symbiotically unified ecosystems and will evolve into distinctive forms of sumbioculture within sumbioregions. With sumbioculture, we will finally be rid of the structural dysbiosis typical of industrial agriculture.

Sumbiosic food production will enhance the mutual interdependence between the non-living foundations of life (geochemical systems) and all species as living beings. In doing so, such food production will conserve and maximize the symbiotically united living systems that constitute communities of life. Sumbiosic food celebrates the interconnectedness of life and rejects food production systems that deplete the soil base; practice extensive monoculture; poison the food chain; render species extinct; introduce risky DNA into life that cannot be removed once introduced; and produce emissions that create global problems, such as Anthropogenic climate change.

The consumption of sumbiosic food from sumbiosic agriculture will support human and ecosystem health and will nurture the maximum diversity of life consistent with the aim of producing food for humans (and other beings such as companion animals). It is a tougher ‘standard’ for food than ‘organic’, as organic systems can currently be monocultures, and have no connection to the foundations of life in bio-regional contexts, nor do they have to explicitly nurture symbiotic practice.

If you eat sumbiosic food you are a sumbiovore, and can be described as a sumbiotarian. If you support the whole system of sumbiosic food production and consumption, within the broader category of sumbiosic human development, you are eating within the Symbiocene. Gen S will all be sumbiovores irrespective of whether they are omnivores, vegetarians, vegans, piscatorians or carnivores.

Sumbiotarians understand that health is the outcome of a delicate and dynamic balance of the parts and the totality. They know that, at the local scale, the symbiotic role of bacteria, fungi, manure, compost and bioturbation all assist in maintaining ecosystem health. At the larger scale, bio-geo-chemical cycles, such as those that determine the balance of nitrogen, carbon and water, are what determine the health of the Earth. When the total system is healthy, and human life is harmoniously integrated within it, then sumbioculture has a Ghedeistual element to it. The love of food is also the love of life. Cooks and chefs who understand this vital connection will be seen as the alchemists of the Ghedeist as they take the biocomunen from sumbiosically produced food and transfer it, via creative cooking, into the vitality of diners


[1] From the Greek sumbiosis, from sumbioun, to live together, from sumbios, living together, and vore meaning what one eats plus a member of a group who eats that way.

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