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The basics: How to raise competent kids in an incompetent world

It’s probably no surprise that the young people of today aren’t particularly independent. Not only does the “education” system take great pains to mold them into a bunch of terrified, follow-the-herd automatons, society, in general, doesn’t force them to do much for themselves either.

I’ll never forget when my oldest daughter came home for summer vacation after her first year of college. She told me that her younger sister, age 13 at the time, was much more mature and competent than many of the kids in her student apartment building. “I had to show a bunch of them how to do laundry and they didn’t even know how to make a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese,” she said.

Apparently they were likewise in awe of her ability to cook actual food that did not originate in a pouch or box, her skills at changing a tire, her knack for making coffee using a French press instead of a coffee maker, and her ease at operating a washing machine and clothes dryer.

One girl, she told me, kept coming to my daughter’s apartment for tea and finally my daughter said, “I can’t afford to keep giving you all my tea. You’re going to have to make your own tea in your apartment. The girl said sadly that she couldn’t because she didn’t have a tea kettle. She was gobsmacked when my daughter explained how to boil water in a regular cooking pot for making tea.

At long last, my daughter admitted that even though she thought I was being mean at the time I began making her do things for herself, she’s now glad that she possesses those skills. Hers was also the apartment that had everything needed to solve everyday problems: basic tools, first aid supplies, OTC medicine, and home remedies.

This got me thinking about how life will be when disaster eventually strikes.

If the country is populated by a bunch of people who can’t even cook a box of macaroni and cheese when their stoves function at optimum efficiency, and who can’t figure out how to make something as simple as tea in a different cooking vessel, how on earth will they sustain themselves when they have to not only acquire their food, but must use off-grid methods to prepare it? How can someone who requires an instruction manual to operate a digital thermostat hope to keep warm when their home environment it controlled by wood they have collected and fires they have lit with it?

And honestly, we can’t just blame the young people of today. We know that these types of skills aren’t taught in school, so where have their parents been? Why hasn’t this generation been taught to cook, clean, problem-solve, and handle money? People often praise my kids for being competent but the things they do should not be that unusual. If you never give a kid responsibility or show them how to create a workaround, how do you expect them to magically be able to “adult” just because they hit some arbitrary age?

Let’s look at some less dramatic, but more likely, situations. This isn’t even about prepping, per se, but about life skills.

Job Loss

In the current economy, it might not even be as cut and dried as job loss – the new generation may never find work at all. When you have little-to-no money, cost-cutting efforts in order to get by requires certain skills and adaptations to stay fed and clean. Your kids need to know how to:

  • Cook inexpensive, nutritious meals from scratch using pantry basics
  • Do laundry by hand and hang it to dry
  • Get from point A to point B using public transit or – gasp – by walking
  • Budget limited money so that the most important things are paid first
  • Mend and repair items instead of replacing them


Power Outage Due to Natural Disaster

We’ve all seen the aftermath of hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and superstorms. California just lost power for over a week to “prevent” wildfires.

Your kids should be able to:

  • Keep warm, whether that means safely operating an indoor propane heater, using the woodstove/fireplace, or bundling up in a tent and sleeping bags in the living room
  • Keep fed – they should have enough supplies on hand that they can stay fed at home for at least two weeks without leaving the house: cereal, powdered milk, granola bars, canned fruit, etc.
  • Keep safe – they need to understand when it’s dangerous to go out and about and they need to have basic self-defense and weapons-handling skills.
  • As well, they need to understand the dangers of off-grid heating and cooking, such as the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in unventilated rooms, and to know how to lessen these risks.

Illness and Injury

This can happen anywhere at any time. Keeping a cool head when someone is ill or injured is the absolute most important step towards a good outcome. My kids both took babysitting courses and First Aid courses to further their money-making abilities as young teens, but the skills learned there go much further than bandaging a toddler’s scraped knee. Kids should:

  • Take a course in First Aid, CPR, and anything else applicable that is offered. The more you know, the calmer you are able to remain during a crisis.
  • Have a good basic First Aid kit and know how to use everything in it. Yes, that means “wasting” a few supplies by tearing them open and going through the use of them.
  • Know some home remedies for various common illnesses: teas for tummy aches, treatment for flu symptoms, how to soothe skin irritations, and how to care for a fever.
  • Have some basic over the counter medications on hand, like pills for diarrhea, pills for indigestion, and pain relievers.

Automotive Safety

An astonishing number of young adults don’t know how to drive. Fewer people than ever are getting their driver’s licenses.

Back when I was a kid, the most exciting thing in my teenage life was getting behind the wheel of a car, getting a learner’s permit when I was fourteen, and having that permit turn into a real driver’s license on my 16th birthday. This was freedom, baby!

Now, many kids couldn’t care less if they ever learn how to drive. Instead, they rely on public transit or friends and family members that drive. It’s one thing if you live in a major metropolitan area, but in places with lower populations, it seems that this is a vital skill. In order to transport yourself to work and school, or to help out in the event of an emergency, it seems to me that kids should know how to:

  • Drive. Not only an automatic transmission but also a standard transmission
  • Change a tire. You don’t want your teenage daughter stranded on the side of the road at the mercy of whoever stops to help. My daughter was not allowed to drive the car until she demonstrated her ability to change the tire with the factory jack.
  • Perform minor maintenance, like checking the oil and fluid levels, filling up the washer fluid, checking tire pressures and topping them up if needed, and changing the windshield wiper blades. I have a background in the automotive industry, so I also taught my daughter how to change the oil, which is nice to know, but not absolutely necessary.

And finally, what about day-to-day life skills?

I was truly surprised when my daughter told me about the lack of life skills her friends have. I always thought maybe I was secretly lazy and that was the basis on my insistence that my girls be able to fend for themselves. But it honestly prepared them for life far better than if I was a hands-on mom that did absolutely everything for them. They needed to realize that clothing does not get worn and then neatly reappear on a hanger in the closet, ready to be worn again. They need to understand that meals do not magically appear on the table, created by singing appliances ala Beauty and the Beast.

Here are some of the life skills that kids should have gained before leaving the nest:

  • How to use basic tools for repairs
  • How to cook a healthy meal
  • How to grocery shop within a budget and have healthy food for the week ahead
  • Speaking of that, how to budget in general, so that they don’t have “too much month and not enough money”
  • How to clean
  • How to do laundry, including stain removal
  • How to think for themselves and question authority
  • How to manage their time to get necessary tasks accomplished by the deadlines
  • How to tell the difference between a want and a need
  • How to be frugal with utilities and consumable goods
  • How to pay bills
  • How to stay out of debt (not easy with the college credit card racket that you see on campuses across the country and rampant student loans)

Competent kids turn into competent adults.

The more they practice these things under your watchful eye, the more competent they will be when they set out on their own. We all want our kids to be successful and independent and this is on us as parents. Don’t allow your kids to become crippled by a world that babies them in the name of convenience.

What are some of the skills you’ve taught your kids to prepare them for the real world? Have you witnessed some young adults who seem to be struggling to handle real life? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Russian shaman aims to capture really big evil spirits (and a record) as she crafts dreamcatcher the size of Soviet block

Russia’s Lake Seliger has probably become much safer from evil spirits after a 13-meter-wide dreamcatcher appeared on its shores. The massive shaman-made talisman is slated for the Guinness Book of Records.

Bibigul Mamaeva, an ethnic Kazakh shaman who boasts of being a “direct descendent” of Genghis Khan, has been working tirelessly for almost a week to create the enormous amulet on the shores of the lake, located some 380 km northwest of Moscow.

In a bid to break the record, Mamaeva has created a dreamcatcher 12.63 meters in diameter, using brushwood for the hoop and strained yarn, decorated with beads and feathers, placed on the inside. For comparison, a typical 5-story Soviet block of flats of the Khrushchev era is 14-15 meters high on average.

“I want the world to really start changing. There are a lot of angry people now. It’s an attempt for the people to come together for good.”

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It’s yet to be confirmed whether the Guinness Book of Records recognizes the new dreamcatcher as the new largest ever made, but the shaman has already snatched one such record in 2016. Then the baton was passed to Lithuanian artist Vladimir Panarin, whose amulet reached 10.14 meters in size.

A lighthearted video posted on Mamaeva’s Instagram page showed her “preparing to beat the record” while dancing to some suspiciously modern music.

In mass culture, dreamcatchers have become ubiquitous handmade souvenirs, but they’ve been traditionally used by shamans of indigenous peoples for protection from evil spirits, who believed that the bad spirits get stuck in the web created in the yarn, while the good ones make it through the hole in the middle.

WATCH RT’s documentary on shamans in Russia’s Buryatia

SOTT FOCUS: MindMatters: Self-Help Without The Shallowness: The Hidden Depths of Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits

stephen covey

© SOTT

It’s the book you’ve heard about for years, but probably never read – especially if you have an aversion to shallow self-help books promising success, influence, power and money. But Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is no shallow self-help book. It’s actually a book about virtue – the development of character, and the timeless principles governing true success in life for as long as there has been history.

Today on MindMatters we discuss some of the overall themes of the book, Covey’s unique but universal worldview, and some of the great stories he shares to really make his points hit home.

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Running Time: 01:20:33

Download: MP3 — 73.7 MB

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Harrison Koehli (Profile)

Harrison Koehli co-hosts SOTT Radio Network’s MindMatters, and is an editor for Red Pill Press. He has been interviewed on several North American radio shows about his writings on the study of ponerology. In addition to music and books, Harrison enjoys tobacco and bacon (often at the same time) and dislikes cell phones, vegetables, and fascists (commies too).


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Elan Martin (Profile)

Born and raised in New York City, Elan has been an editor for SOTT.net since 2014 and is a co-host for MindMatters. He enjoys seeing and sharing what’s true about our profoundly and rapidly changing world.


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Corey Schink (Profile)

Corey Schink was born and raised in the Midwestern United States, where he worked on farms and as a welder, musician, and social worker. His interests in government, philosophy and history led to his writing for SOTT in 2012 and to becoming a SOTT editor and SOTT Radio co-host in 2014. He now resides in North Carolina, where he enjoys the magnificent views of the Appalachian Mountains.

David Berlinski in conversation with ID-friendly Muslims

david berlinski

I had the following dream last night. In it, mathematician and Darwin skeptic David Berlinski was stretched out on a red couch, schmoozing entertainingly with a couple of ID-friendly, C.S. Lewis-quoting Muslim chaps. Dr. Berlinski stretched out so far that the pair of interviewers were confined to one distant end of the couch, though they didn’t seem to mind. They cracked up at all his jokes, as I did, too. Dr. Berlinski held a cane with a golden head which he used to illustrate points, and he appeared not in his usual splendid attire but, much more casually, in a cut-off jean jacket over a t-shirt. It was quite a fun dream and went on for about 45 minutes or so.

I’m kidding, actually: it wasn’t a dream, though there is arguably an element of the surreal. It was a video from the very amiable and, yes, ID-friendly crew of Ahmadi Muslims at the thoughtful site Rational Religion. You must watch this.

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Chatting Up Berlinski

Two young doctors, Umar Nasser and Tahir Nasser, chatted up David Berlinski in his Paris apartment. In the video, the conversation ranges from the Quran to the New Atheism and what’s so “new” about it, Ray Kurzweil and the Singularity, David Chalmers and whether consciousness is really a “hard problem” after all, and more.

Some Darwinist critics have lashed out at Berlinski’s sartorial choice of “biker” attire for his recent conversation with Stephen Meyer, David Gelernter, and Peter Robinson, recorded in Italy for the Hoover Institution’s Uncommon Knowledge program. I’m glad to see him casting scorn on these dull critics by wearing the same outfit here. Why should he not dress like a biker if he wants to do so?

The Problem of Origins

In seriousness, it’s a great conversation, and the introduction of the Islamic themes, mainly by Tahir Nasser, is interesting. They observe that problems of origins — of the universe, of life, of complex animal life, of language, of civilizations — are not only fascinating and profound and deeply difficult. More than that, these developments appear to be saltational, abrupt, as far as we know. It’s not what an evolutionist or a materialist would expect.

Master of the Subjunctive

Berlinski questions evolutionary understandings of language and expresses doubt as to what reproductive benefit could have accrued to “the first guy to master the Greek subjunctive.” He reflects on how little we really understand about the distinctive features that mark human beings off from other creatures: “We have no analytic insight into the most trivial of human accomplishments. Walking is one example. Talking is another example. Being able to move in a social environment is a third example.”

I expect these will be among the themes covered in Berlinski’s new book, Human Nature, coming out next month, and eagerly awaited. In fact, I just got a copy yesterday.

A Way of Backfiring

By the way, while I’m by no means an expert on Ahmadi Muslims, this Wikipedia article characterizes their views on biological origins as similar to theistic evolution. However, that’s not the impression I get from reading some of their work. Also on the Rational Religion site, Umar Nasser has a smart review of Michael Behe’s book Darwin Devolves. Dr. Nasser admits:

As a medical doctor I’m familiar with biochemistry, genetics and the physiology of at least one well-regarded organism on the planet. So while I’m not exactly a layman, I’m certainly no specialist in molecular genetics. Thus it can be difficult to be certain of how strong Behe’s thesis really is.

But he goes on to say that he found persuasive some of attack reviews on Behe from Darwinists — persuasive, that is, in the sense that they made him think Behe must be onto something. Critiques from Darwinists have a way of backfiring and turning the undecided against them, but we knew that already. Nasser writes, “Nothing has convinced me more that Behe is correct than reading and analysing the criticisms levelled against him.” Citing the “Criticism & Response” page on the Darwin Devolves website, Nasser tweaks the trio of preemptive Science reviewers, along with Jerry Coyne, Richard Lenski, and Richard Dawkins:

[T]he real highlight was Richard Lenski claiming that his LTEE [Long Term Evolution Experiment] was in fact not a good example of how evolution works in the real world. Why? Because the environment isn’t varied enough to simulate real life, which would generate more genetic innovation.

Yet, “Lenski didn’t seem to mind when Richard Dawkins practically made the LTEE the centrepiece of his book The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution (2009).” Nasser wryly suggests that Lenski ask Dawkins for a retraction. Good point! Or maybe Professor Lenski has done so already, and Nasser and I missed it. I’d be glad to be corrected.

People with anxiety may strategically choose worrying over relaxing

worry anxiety

Newman said that while researchers have known about relaxation-induced anxiety since the 1980s, the specific cause of this phenomenon has remained unknown. When Newman developed the contrast avoidance theory in 2011, she thought the two concepts might be connected.

Relaxing is supposed to be good for the body and soul, but people with anxiety may actively resist relaxation and continue worrying to avoid a large jump in anxiety if something bad does happen, according to Penn State research.

In a new study, the researchers found that people who were more sensitive to shifts in negative emotion — quickly moving from a relaxed state to one of fear, for example — were more likely to feel anxious while being led through relaxation exercises.

Michelle Newman, professor of psychology, said the results could help benefit people who experience “relaxation-induced anxiety,” a phenomenon that occurs when people actually become more anxious during relaxation training.

“People may be staying anxious to prevent a large shift in anxiety, but it’s actually healthier to let yourself experience those shifts,” Newman said. “The more you do it, the more you realize you can do it and it’s better to allow yourself to be relaxed at times. Mindfulness training and other interventions can help people let go and live in the moment.”

Hanjoo Kim, a graduate student in psychology, said the study also sheds light on why relaxation treatments designed to help people feel better can potentially cause more anxiety.

“People who are more vulnerable to relaxation-induced anxiety are often the ones with anxiety disorders who may need relaxation more than others,” Kim said. “And of course, these relaxation techniques were meant to help, not make someone more anxious. Our findings will hopefully serve as a cornerstone for providing better care for these populations.”

Newman said that while researchers have known about relaxation-induced anxiety since the 1980s, the specific cause of this phenomenon has remained unknown. When Newman developed the contrast avoidance theory in 2011, she thought the two concepts might be connected.

“The theory revolves around the idea that people may make themselves anxious intentionally as a way to avoid the letdown they might get if something bad were to happen,” Newman said. “This isn’t actually helpful and just makes you more miserable. But, because most of the things we worry about don’t end up happening, what’s reinforced in the brain is, ‘I worried and it didn’t happen so I should continue worrying.'”

For this study, the researchers recruited 96 college students. Participants included 32 people with generalized anxiety disorder, 34 people with major depressive disorder and 30 controls with neither disorder.

When the participants arrived at the lab, the researchers led them through relaxation exercises before having them watch videos that may elicit fear or sadness. The participants then answered a list of questions designed to measure how sensitive they were to changes in their emotional state. For example, some people may be uncomfortable with the negative emotions incited by the videos right after relaxing, while others might find the relaxation session helpful in dealing with those emotions.

Next, the researchers led the participants through a relaxation session once more before having them fill out a second survey. These questions were designed to measure the participants’ anxiety during the second relaxation session.

After analyzing the data, the researchers found that people with generalized anxiety disorder were more likely to be sensitive to sharp spikes in emotion, like going from feeling relaxed to feeling scared or stressed. Additionally, this sensitivity was linked to feeling anxious during sessions intended to induce relaxation.

The researchers found similar results in people with major depressive disorder, although the effect wasn’t as strong.

Kim said he hopes the results — recently published in the Journal of Affective Disorders — may help clinicians provide better care for people with anxiety.

“Measuring relaxation-induced anxiety and implementing exposure techniques targeting the desensitization of negative contrast sensitivity may help patients reduce this anxiety,” Kim said. “Also, it would be important to examine relaxation-induced anxiety in other disorders, such as panic disorder and persistent mild depression.”

Using CBD along with Meditation to Alleviate Stress

If you are already meditating, you are probably doing so in an attempt to reduce the amount of stress in your life. With that in mind, there’s a new line of products out there that you might want to try – CBD products.

They have become extremely popular in the last couple of years as the research has become more solid around what they actually do. Keep reading to learn all about them.

What is CBD?

CBD is a cannabinoid that is found in marijuana and industrial hemp. It is distilled from industrial hemp into an oil that is then used by millions of people on a daily basis for a variety of reasons. CBD works with the endocannabinoid receptors spread throughout your immune system, brain, and nervous system to act as a mild sedative and bring you back to a natural state of homeostasis.

It is also non-psychotropic, unlike THC,  so it is safe to use without being concerned about failing a drug test.  But is it right for you?

Why Should You Take It?

When it comes to relaxation,  CBD to make it easier for you to function without fighting your body. When you and your body are in sync, you are going to be a lot less stressed overall. Here are some specifics.

CBD Helps You Relax

Because CBD coats your endocannabinoid receptors, it’s harder for the body to get agitated and easier for it to relax. This means that your meditation sessions will be a lot more effective overall.

CBD Helps You Sleep

CBD also helps to make your body start producing melatonin on its own and continue to do so throughout the next few hours. This will help you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer, which will make you significantly more able to handle any stressors throughout the day ahead of you.

CBD Helps You Reduce Anxiety and Depression

Improved sleep and improved relaxation both help you to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. This can help you to be less stressed overall because your brain isn’t fighting you at every step of the way.

By combining CBD with your meditation routine, you could do wonders for both your mental and emotional health over a long period of time. It isn’t even that costly or that difficult to add to your daily routine.

What Should You Keep In Mind with CBD?

CBD may be a natural supplement that won’t get you high, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any potential side effects. People who are allergic to different types of grasses may find that they are also allergic to CBD because marijuana and hemp are both kinds of grass.  Anyone who has issues with their liver or takes medication that deals with seizures or sleep may also find that the CBD enhances the effects of those medications and causes additional strain to their liver. Before taking CBD, talk to your doctor to make sure it is safe if any of these apply to you.

Jessica Biel joins anti-vaccine activist RFK Jr. to lobby against California pro-vaccination bill

On Wednesday, actress Jessica Biel came out as an “anti-vaxx activist,” as The Daily Beast put it, joining anti-vaccination crusader Robert Kennedy Jr. at the California legislature to lobby against a bill that would make it harder to opt out of vaccinating children for medical reasons. This wasn’t an activity Biel’s publicist highlighted.

Biel and her husband, Justin Timberlake, didn’t comment on her activities at the legislature – though her perceived anti-vaccination lobbying was unpopular in the comments under an unrelated tweet – but Kennedy told The Daily Beast that Biel was an “extremely well-informed” and “very effective advocate.” He described her as “for safe vaccines and for medical freedom,” adding, “She has friends who have been vaccine-injured who would be forced to leave the state.” Biel has not publicly commented on vaccinations, though there were tabloid reports in 2015 that she and Timberlake planned to not vaccinate their children.

Vaccinations are in the news because of a large outbreak of the measles that started in low-vaccination areas around the country, and Kennedy’s relatives have sharply criticized his anti-vaccination advocacy, especially his repeatedly disproved claim that vaccines cause autism.

“The children who need medical exemptions will not have a problem getting them if SB 276 becomes law,” said Leah Russin, executive director of Vaccinate California, which backs the bill, along with the California Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, California. “People who are on immuno-suppressant drugs will not have a problem getting a medical exemption – and in fact, the people who truly need medical exemptions desperately need everyone else to be vaccinated. That’s why they support this bill.”

“A Hollywood celebrity and the head of an environmental organization should not have credibility on an issue about how to regulate the medical profession,” Russin added. “It’s the Jenny McCarthy show all over again.”

Hollywood dystopia? Sir Peter Jackson and James Cameron team up to promote meatless future

The bromance between two Hollywood heavyweights has led to a project that could change the future of Kiwi farming.

Avatar director James Cameron and Hobbit director Sir Peter Jackson have joined forces to create a “plant-based” food business.

Rumours about the secret venture have swirled for two years, but the pair has remained tight-lipped until now.

Speaking exclusively to TVNZ’s Sunday programme, Cameron said he and Jackson want to develop new food products that are made from plants.

“Peter’s very keen to get ‘plant meat’ factories here in New Zealand, so we can make jobs here,” Cameron said.

“I think it’s a way to keep [smaller] towns vital – if we could put ‘plant meat’ factories, or ‘plant cheese’ factories, or ‘plant dairy’ factories in those places.”

Cameron, the director of Terminator and Titanic, owns more than one thousand hectares of farmland in the Wairarapa. He is currently living in Wellington while filming four Avatar sequels.

An environmental activist, he wants New Zealand to phase out livestock farming due to its impact on the environment.

“What we see is that the rivers and the lakes are extremely polluted here,” he said. “New Zealand isn’t living up to its own image of itself right now – and the image that it projects to the world.”

Cameron believes our diets also need to change. His family no longer eats meat or dairy.

“I think what we need is a nice transition to a meatless or relatively meatless world in 20 or 30 years,” he said.

PBT New Zealand, a company established in March 2017, has four directors: Cameron and Jackson, along with their respective partners Suzy Amis Cameron and Dame Fran Walsh.

“It’s still early days,” said Cameron. “We have a very small team and we’re basically in a research phase right now.”

“We’ve been looking at ways to make extraction of protein from alfalfa more efficient.”

Cameron believes New Zealand could transform its farming sector into a world-leading hub for innovative plant-based foods.

“You wouldn’t just be exporting milk solids anymore; you’d be exporting retail products. You’d be adding value.”

A spokesperson for Sir Peter Jackson said he was too busy last week to respond to questions about the project.

But Cameron says plant-based innovation could lead to economic growth in heartland New Zealand.

“It’s harder to keep kids on the farm than ever before. We can make jobs in the community that are around [plant-based food] processing and product development.”

Last week, a report by global consultancy firm AT Kearney projected that global meat supply will drop by more than a third by 2040.

By then, AT Kearney projects that more than half of our “meat” will not come from dead animals. Some of it will be grown in a lab, using animal cells. Other products that taste and smell like meat will be made from plant protein.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand, which represents farmers and retailers, says the trends are not fatal to the livestock sector.

“What’s really great about our world today is that everyone can choose what it right for them,” said Lee-Ann Marsh, innovation manager for Beef and Lamb.

“We’re offering a choice to people who want to eat sustainably and ethically produced meat.”

But Marsh agrees that plant-based foods will also play a role in our future.

“We need to be thinking in terms of a [world population] of 10 billion people in 2050. Meat is only going to feed a small proportion of people, and we need to think about other technologies that are going to be able to feed them.”

James Cameron is investing in those technologies. But despite his interest in the future of food, the director has no plans to cut his film career.

“I’ve got the best job in the world when I’m working on a movie,” he said.