Sunday, January 12, 2014

Our Microbial Life

Pen & Ink Fine Art By Doug Ashby
Recently there has been a big uptick in talk about healthy bugs and how those critters shape our world every day. Mostly these articles have to deal with food and how that effects our gut microbiome, or the bacteria that aid in our digestion. For sure you have heard of probiotics and some of the health claims that holistic health nuts cheer about. Truly, I feel these claims go to far, however there is ever increasing scientific evidence that in the western world we might have lost touch with these microbial friends of ours.

Clearly this is the subject of the artwork that you see here. In truth this image is something that almost all of us have encountered in our life. It is the microscopic workings of a true sourdough bread. Lately I have been experimenting with sourdough starters and in that process I became more aware of how the bacteria lactobacilli works on the wheat starches, the flour, to produce a unique and wonderful addition to something as simple as bread. What is truly impressive is how you don't have to do much to get your starter to become colonized by this wonderful live culture. Just leave it out in the open. You see this particular bacteria is already in the flour and in the air and does not need to be added. is everywhere. I kid you not.

Needless to say many people find thinking about this to be somewhat disgusting. Along with the lactobaccilli the starter dough is also colonized by S. Cerevisiea. Or in plainer terms yeast. A common fungus that helps leaven the bread. Together these to microbial creatures turn something as basic as wheat into something as sublime as a great loaf of bread. If you are like me then you find this fascinating and you want to know more about how it works. If that's the case just google it.

I am planning a series of drawings on this very subject. The one I recently started has to do with my favorite fermented Stay tuned for that.

As always I hope you like the art and the thoughts.

Thanks, Doug.

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