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Fleet Farming Cities: A Bold Approach to an Urban Farming Future

Florida-based urban agriculture social enterprise and nonprofit Fleet Farming is making a difference in Central Florida, one lawn at a time. With a mission to redefine local food systems, Fleet Farming operates by converting lawns into edible gardens and micro-farms. To date, the movement has converted 70,140 square feet, harvested 3,840 pounds of produce and enlisted 4,392 volunteers. With more communities adopting this model, could fleet farming cities serve as food oasis for an urban farming future? It certainly underscores the importance of urban farming. Bold Business Associate Publisher John R. Miles and Project Bold Life President Dawna Stone interviewed Fleet Farming Co-Creator Chris Castro at the 2019 Synapse Innovation Summit.


The Journey to an Urban Farming Future Starts Now

Lawns, with their well-kept carpet of grass, are a quintessential American fixture. Sadly, a lawn is a symbol that comes at a considerable cost. According to a study conducted by NASA and Mountain West, there is now a total of 63,000 square miles of lawn in America. This number is three times larger than the lot area allotted for the corn crop and constitutes 1.9 percent of the surface of the continental United States. Lawns also contribute heavily to pollution and water shortage. Its maintenance consumes 9 billion gallons of water per day, 2.4 million metric tons of fertilizer, and 70 million pounds of insecticides and herbicides.

Meanwhile, our diet has a carbon footprint. If we account the amount of energy needed to plant, grow, process and transport our meals from farm to table, it’s easy to see how the agriculture and farming industry contributes to one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, a small serving of potatoes every day can compound to 16 kilograms of carbon dioxide in a year. This number is enough to run a regular petrol car for 43 miles.

Fortunately, amidst these challenges, organizations, and communities such as Fleet Farming are discovering innovative ways to approach food security problems. With an urban farming future, challenges such as food shortage, environmental concerns and access to a wholesome food source, can all be tackled.

The importance of urban farming lies in the promise of feeding everyone "smartly".
Sustainability is important – and an important part of the urban farming future according to Chris Castro.

Urban Farming Future Through Fleet Farming: Local, Communal and Environmental

A product of a design-thinking workshop sponsored by IDEAS For Us, Fleet Farming was born right at the heart of Florida in 2014. The concept was first tested in the Audubon Park of Orlando. Five years since its inception, Fleet Farming has sponsored various programs built upon the mission of increasing food accessibility and creating a healthier and more connected world.

  • Mobilizing the community through Swarm Rides. Volunteers within a branch use Swarm Rides to create awareness and encourage residents to come out and engage in Fleet Farming’s food system. This program works by assembling bike-riding volunteers three times in a month to tend to micro-farms on common lands within the community.
  • Shortening the farm-to-table food cycle by converting common spaces, school gardens, and private lawns as Fleet Farmlettes. By getting the support of local restaurants and food establishments, produce harvested from these Fleet Farmlettes are sold in community food markets and used as ingredients in the food they serve.
  • Helping landowners convert lawns and unused outdoors spaces into edible gardens. Through its garden installation service, Edible Landscapes, the organization is laying the foundations of fleet farming cities. In small but meaningful ways, Fleet Farming has been making a difference in the lives of landowners who joined the movement.
  • Educating the next generation of urban farmers to support fleet farming cities through Fleet Education. The organization provides lectures and workshops around the application of plant science. Their team of educators provides engaging lectures from Gardening 101 to Food Systems and private team-building farming events.
An urban farming future should include a number of solutions, not just one.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to hunger, but Fleet Farming cities is a step in the right direction.

How Do You Feed the World? Fleet Farming Co-Creator Chris Castro Believes Cities May Be the Answer

Human population is predicted to reach the 9 billion mark by the year 2050. Inherently, a growing population requires an increase in food supply. To meet the population’s growing food requirement, experts estimate that crop yield should be doubled by the year 2050.

The importance of urban farming cannot be understated.
Chris Castro has seen the urban farming future, and it all about Fleet Farming.

Presently with a 7.5 billion total global population, 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from the agriculture sector. Similarly, we must mention the declining quality of the soil due to excessive fertilizer, pesticide, and herbicide use. Amidst these environmental challenges and dwindling natural resources, businesses and the environment sector are looking for answers.

While some say that large-scale commercial farming is the solution we are looking for, environmentalist and local-organic growers are clamoring for sustainable alternatives. The debate is raging, but the question still stands: How do you feed 9 billion people without exhausting the planet?

Fleet farming cities offer possibilities and may hold the answers that the world is looking for. By reallocating resources, decreasing carbon footprint, and shortening the farm-to-table food cycle, we are not just feeding people. We’re also nourishing the future of humanity.

Improving Gut Health Through Diet – A Bold Interview with Dr. Steven R. Gundry

Remarkable new insights are being discovered about gut health and its relationship with human wellness and disease. One of the most notable contributors to this evolving area of science is Dr. Steven R. Gundry. As a cardiothoracic surgeon practicing for more than 40 years, Dr. Gundry applied his expertise and experience in novel ways. Today, he is internationally recognized for his insights on lectins, “leaky gut,” and the effects of a healthy human microbiome.

In addition to his remarkable experiences as a surgeon, Dr. Gundry has conducted extensive research. Likewise, he is a best-selling author of The Plant Paradox and Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution. Both books expose how lectins and the microbiome are highly relevant in either promoting wellness or disease in human beings. Bold Business was fortunate enough to have a conversation with Dr. Gundry to discuss these issues further.

Bold Business Associate Publisher John R. Miles Interviewed Dr. Steven R. Gundry to Gain a Deeper Perspective on the Gut Microbiome and its Impact on Our Health.

John R. Miles: Bold Business is currently doing a series on Gut Health. We have already published stories on gut health and its link to diabetes, Alzheimer’s,  irritable bowel syndrome, cardiac health, and chronic disease. We also discovered how poultry, emulsifiers, and dairy are impacting gut microbiome imbalance. When researching the stories, we found that gut health is under-reported, and in fact, many institutions are putting out contrary data? Why?

Dr. Gundry: There are several reasons. The modern medical school curriculum is dominated by the concepts of disease identification, not prevention.  The schools for decades have taught doctors how pharmaceutical solutions or medical devices can fix an issue, fight a disease, replace a heart, a joint or a tendon. Until the human microbiome project was published, we didn’t listen to the fact that all disease begins in the gut and the importance of prevention.

 We are recognizing now that all medical schools and medicine was structured around disease and organs. There was little communication or teaching about these alternative ways to view health. It was not until doctors and scientists like Dr. Dale Bredesen (who specializes in preventing and reversing Alzheimer) and I published our theories.

Dr. Gundry believes Gut health as a profound impact on human health.
Dr. Steven R. Gundry believes experts found it hard to understand microbiota and their impact on humans.

Today, it is shocking how we did not realize that things in the brain arise from the things we put into the gut. Instead of being focused on amyloidosis of the brain, we should have recognized that brain health was directly related to what happens in the gut and its proper balance. I honestly think a lot of it came down to the egos of many in the medical field. With a body as complex as the human body, so-called experts could not believe that one cell organisms (gut microbiota) could possibly have such a profound impact on human health.

 Many thought that these microbiota are just five to six pounds of cells and nothing more. What the human microbiome project revealed was that thousands of species are living in our guts. In fact, on February 4, 2019, scientists discovered 100 completely new species of bacteria. These new bacteria will help in the ongoing research that explains how the human microbiome keeps us healthy and their role in chronic disease.

JM: What do you consider some of your most significant experiences and your biggest discoveries concerning the benefits of gut microbiome?

Dr. Gundry: I was fortunate enough to get trained in transplant immunology because of our neonatal heart transplant work. We would take a pig’s heart and transplant it into a baboon. This was very intense cross-species work. What we realized was that the proteins that are lining a pig are far different than those that in a baboon, and for that matter, in a human. So, we had to invent ways to tell the immune system not to react to these foreign proteins and to accept them.

After my first book, Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution, I mentioned a few auto-immune patients who had done well. Suddenly, my office was filled with people who had an auto-immune disease. I did not know a lot about auto-immune disease, but I knew a ton about the immune system. I had no profound training or pre-conceived conclusions, which turned out to be a huge blessing. This allowed me to focus on the problem without any blinders.

Gut health is more complicated than originally thought.
Dr. Steven R. Gundry’s book ‘The Plant Paradox’ is one of the definitive texts on gut health.

We now know the gut microbiome is essential in educating the body’s immune system.  As a foreign protein enters the gut, the body can be taught what it should and shouldn’t be interested in. In my work, that is where the rubber meets the road. I discovered that if we can get a happy and diverse microbiome, then we can then seal the gut wall. This would then tell the immune system to chill out.

My father’s family had severe psoriasis, and my father was given Methotrexate to treat his condition for 50 years. Methotrexate suppresses the immune system and has many side effects. What we have now discovered is that this type of potent therapy for severe autoimmune conditions isn’t what’s needed. Instead, what is really required is a healthy microbiome. The bottom line is that an intact and diverse microbiome, and keeping lectins out of the diet, is extremely important for a happy immune system.

JM: How does gut health impact obesity and diabetes?

Dr. Gundry: We know now that there is an obesogenic biome. These bacteria are actually capable of extracting more calories from the food that you consume and pass them onto your body. This has been proven in multiple human studies. I talk about this in the Plant Paradox and in my upcoming book.

 These obesogenic bacteria influence your appetite and the foods they want. In general, they are looking for saturated fats, complex carbohydrates, and simple sugars. That is what they want. They literally send text messages to your brain to seek these things out, and that is why you have desires for them. On the other hand, we know there are skinny or good bacteria that have the opposite effect. They take the calories you consume and make baby bacteria that grow and divide.

This may sound rather gross, but we see this good balance in healthy bacteria occurring because your feces become very large. As I discuss in my book, you will know everything is right when you see a “giant coiled snake” looking back at you. This is a really interesting observation because this indicates that these bacteria taking in food for themselves.

 If you foster a diverse gut population or a rainforest of bacteria, there is conclusive scientific proof it will produce longer life-span and longer health span. Once you eat for the good bacteria, they will send text messages to your brain of what they want. My meat and potato people come to me and say they now crave vegetables and smoothies. They are no longer controlled by a set of bad microbes that is controlling their behavior.

JM: What is your thought about probiotics and therapeutic grade probiotics?

Dr. Gundry: My belief is that the vast majority of probiotics never make it through the acidic environment in your stomach and into your intestine. There are several spore-forming bacteria. None of these probiotics are members of the human microbiome. They are visitors on vacation. It is very true though that they can have very beneficial effects even though they are just “vacationing.”

According to Dr. Steven Gundry Longevity isn't possible without good gut health.
Dr. Steven R. Gundry has scientific proof that the answer to longevity is good gut bacteria.

Let’s look at probiotics in another way. Consider them as grass seed. What if I were to sell some grass seed here in the desert where I live. You, as my customer, come back and say you sold me bad grass seed because it didn’t grow. I then start asking, “Did you water it? Did you fertilize it?” Assuming the answer was no, then I would question why you expected it to grow if you did not nourish it. In order for probiotics to really work, they have to be fertilized with prebiotics. We have to give good bacteria what they need to eat.

 Jack LaLanne, the fitness and health guru, always said: “If it tastes good, then spit it out.” You have to eat for the good bacteria and give them what they need. Usually the cravings for sugar, carbohydrates, etc. are the bad bacteria sending signals to your brain.

JM: You are famous for saying that lectins are the root cause of inflammation and disease. Why is that?

Dr. Gundry: I see a lot of ill people who eat a lot of foods that are high in lectins. Like all living organisms, plants want to survive and do not want to be eaten. They have a life and want their seeds to succeed and prosper. The lectins are a major part of the plant’s system toward survival and are a poison that makes their predators ill.

Think of it this way. For a very long time, traditional cultures have had great detox programs like fermentation. The traditional way of making beans is that ancient cultures would soak beans for 48 hours and pour the water out several times to cleans the beans. We know today that lectins are cleansed when the beans are soaked. These people would then further cook the beans in pots over two days to get the lectins out even more thoroughly.

Gut health means eating what is truly best for you.
The notion of gut health has ventured from the theoretical to the empirical, thanks to ‘The Plant Paradox”.

The Italians have always removed the seeds from their peppers and tomatoes. The Native Americans treated corn with lye to get the lectins out. All these traditional cultures had these teachings which they would pass down through the generations. Unfortunately, in today’s more nomadic and fast-paced culture, we no longer have this education being passed down generation to generation. Instead, we take shortcuts for convenience and use antibiotics, pesticides, and other things to speed up the process.

The other thing we have failed to appreciate is that we have actually destroyed our microbiome through our modern diets. Our diet is actually wearing down the acid defense which is crucial in fighting the effects of lectins. We are destroying this natural defense system by all the antibiotics which are being overprescribed and from the antibiotics that used in our food chain.  

My simple example is that a head of lettuce may look like a head of lettuce. But the lettuce you buy today in the stores are not likely the same we ate 100 years ago. We are contaminating our food supply.

JM: What is a lectin and why would you advise our readers to avoid them? What does Lectin Shield do for the body?

Dr. Gundry: I developed Lectin Shield because we know scientifically what lectins are looking for in sugar molecules. Lectin Shield contains sugar molecules that lectins bind to. Let’s face it. People are going to cheat or run into lectins in restaurants or when visiting a friend’s home. The idea is not to cheat but to give you a way to protect yourself the best way you can.

 Some people think it is a license to cheat. That is not the way I look at it. Let’s say I take a trip to Italy with their highly carbohydrate and tomato-based diet. I take two Lectin Shield before every meal. Normally, I take 2 in the morning and 2 at night every day. If I am going out, I take them just before the meal.

JM: I started taking Vital Reds every day a year ago. I feel I have better energy with it in my daily life. If there was one product you would encourage our readers to take, what would it be?

Dr. Gundry: I like the double whammy of Vital Reds and a prebiotic like Gundry MD PrebioThrive. I made my formula of prebiotics that are actually the foods good bacteria like to eat. It was formulated to do just that. I mix the two together.

JM: What advice do you have for individuals in teaching them to live healthier lives through diet and lifestyle choices? My daughter is 15 and has been a vegetarian for over four years. Is this diet healthy? I read The Plant Paradox and it points out that certain toxins are not great for the body. What are they and what would you advise a person to do?

Dr. Gundry: If you read between the lines, The Plant Paradox is actually a secret vegan diet. When I hit my peak weight at 220 pounds, I was eating a healthy vegetarian diet, and I could not figure out why I was gaining weight. It was not until I realized that the normal American vegetarian diet (pasta, protein, grains, beans) actually goes against all vegetarian creatures.

Consider that an elephant, ape, or horse get all their nutrition from leaves or grass. Just look at a gorilla who has more muscle mass than we will ever have. What I try to do is create gorillas in Italy per se. I encourage people to eat lots of leaves, lots of vegetables, and not a lot of fruits. I then recommend they smother them in olive oil.

Dr. Gundry’s Diet and Promoting Positive Gut Health

A healthy microbiome and gut health are the keys to lifelong health and wellness. As described by Dr. Gundry, avoiding lectins and providing “good” gut bacteria what they need is very important. This means going beyond the avoidance of gluten. It also means identifying lectins in all foods and protecting your body from them.

Lectins are found in many plants, including corn, rice, oats, buckwheat, quinoa, soybeans, and various legumes. However, this does not necessarily mean you must eliminate these foods completely to have good gut health. But it does require special preparation in some cases and avoidance in others. Key insights provided by Dr. Steven R. Gundry reveal just how important our microbiome is advancing good gut health. As his books have described, gut health is the essential factor in promoting better wellness and reducing disease moving forward.

To learn more about Dr. Gundry, read our Bold Leader Spotlight on him.

Dr. Steven R. Gundry's expertise is on promoting gut health.
To order products for ensuring gut health, click on the photo above.

Fleet Farming: A Bold Approach To Urbanization

Bold Leader Spotlight: Dr. Steven Gundry, Founder Gundry MD

You might not immediately recognize the name Dr. Steven Gundry or the Dr. Gundry diet. But given the impact Dr. Gundry has made on healthcare and wellness in his career, you probably should. From innovative medical devices to minimally invasive surgery techniques, to revolutionary nutrition, Dr. Gundry has made a bold impact. By striving to change society for the better and championing change, he exemplifies the traits of bold leadership. In asking Dr. Gundry on how to be bold in leadership, he shares many insights.

As a cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Gundry’s leadership has influenced how modern healthcare is practiced. And a researcher and clinician, Dr. Steven Gundry has also provided new approaches in nutrition and wellness.

None of these achievements happened fortuitously but instead came about through decades of dedication and effort. And over the course of time, Dr. Steven Gundry’s bold leadership emerged.

The Dr. Gundry diet has helped improve the diet-knowledge of the world.
Anthony Robbins acknowledges the contributions of Dr. Gundy and his bold leadership.

How to Be a Bold Leader – Insatiable Curiosity and Questioning Convention

For most of us, conformity is accepted, and traditional ways are infrequently questioned. Dr. Gundry, however, chooses not to travel this path in his bold leadership approach. When asked how to be bold, Dr. Gundry insists that bold leaders should have an insatiable curiosity. This curiosity should, therefore, encourage them to inquire deeper. Simply because “things” have always been done one way does not mean they should be. Constantly asking the question, “What ought to be done,” offers new insights about how to be bold in any pursuit.

Dr. Steven Gundry has practiced what he preaches in this regard. His invention, the Medtronic Gundry Retrograde Cardioplegia Cannula, is one such example. This device is now an accepted standard for protecting the heart during open heart surgery from damage.

Likewise, the Dr. Gundry diet, based on his best-selling book, The Plant Paradox, challenges nutritional norms. The Dr. Gundry diet identified how some plants can actually undermine health rather than help it. Both approaches show Dr. Gundry’s innate curiosity and how to be as bold as a leader.

cartoon caricature of Steven Gundry, the doctor behind the Dr. Gundry diet, posing as the bold leader spotlight of the week
The Dr. Gundry Diet revolutionizes the health world.

Bold in Confidence, Bold in Others – Further Insights in How to Be Bold in Leadership

Dr. Gundry graduated from Yale University, cum laude. He was Alpha Omega Alpha at the Medicine College of Georgia. Also, he completed his general and thoracic surgery residency at the University of Michigan. In his 40-year career, Dr. Gundry has completed over 1,000 surgeries and patented life-saving medical technologies. Likewise, he has founded wellness centers, pursued international charitable services, and attained best-selling author status for the Dr. Gundry diet. It might be an understatement that a high level of confidence was required in Dr. Gundry’s “how to be bold” pursuits.

Bold leadership certainly requires strong self-confidence.  It also requires having confidence in others. This is a leadership lesson that Dr. Gundry learned from his father. Dr. Gundry’s father listened to others’ story because he believed in people. Likewise, Dr. Gundry does the same. Listening is the window to empathy, and empathy identifies people’s value and insights. Connecting with other people is a key facet in how to be bold as a leader.

Following a Passion for the Betterment of All

Throughout his extended career, Dr. Gundry has been passionate about the health and wellness of others. This has led him on charitable medical missions in China, India, and Zimbabwe. It also prompted the invention of several medical devices and discoveries related to adult and pediatric heart care. In addition, it led to the Dr. Gundry diet that discourages eating plants high in lectin due to detrimental gut health effects. His passion for improving health and quality of life in others reflects how to be bold in true leadership.

Bold leadership means making the world a better place.
Dr. Gundry’s book “The Plant Paradox”, and the Dr. Gundry diet, has been praised by Dr. Alejandro Junger.

A major effort in this regard involves Dr. Gundry’s founding of The Center for Restorative Medicine. The mission of his center pursues nutraceutical and dietary strategies to reverse chronic diseases associated with aging. The Dr. Gundry diet has shown not only to markedly reverse and prevent heart disease. It has also shown profound abilities to cure autoimmune disorders or place them in remission. For Dr. Gundry, knowing how to be bold in leadership means following your passion for making others’ lives better.

The Dr. Steven Gundry Diet and Nutrition Insights – A Legacy of Leadership

As a cardiothoracic surgeon with several inventions, Dr. Steven Gundry has a number of legacies reflective of his bold leadership. These include the Gundry ministernotomy device, the Gundry Lateral Tunnel, and the Skoosh venous cannula. In fact, he has been called one of the fathers of robotic surgery based on his minimally invasive surgical contributions. But what is most notable is Dr. Gundry’s capacity to continually build on his knowledge for new pursuits.

Dr. Gundry is a bold leader.
Dr. Steven Gundry echoes the bold leadership of Nelson Mandela.

The Dr. Gundry diet embraces all he has learned and practiced over his multi-decade career in health. The discovery of the link between lectins and gut health, therefore, represents a pinnacle of Dr. Gundry’s lifelong leadership. Inquisitiveness, questioning norms, empathizing with others, and being confident are all important in how to be bold. But continuous learning is similarly important, and this is where Dr. Gundry truly excels. For those wondering how to be bold in leadership, Dr. Gundry’s life is a notable example.

To learn more about Dr. Gundry’s notable gut health work, read Bold Business’ exclusive interview with him.

The Dr. Gundry Diet can help maintain gut health.
To purchase your copy of The Plant Paradox, click the above picture.