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I’m Gay and I Don’t Want To Force You to Bake a Damn Cake

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Being a gay libertarian is like being a black conservative: you are a pariah among your peers. It couldn’t be clearer in the Charlie Craig and David Mullins V. Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which the Supreme Court will hear soon.




Back in 2012, the plaintiffs went to the defendant’s bakery to have a cake for their wedding, which owner Jack Philipps refused, citing religious reasons. Craig and Mullins complained before the Colorado Civil Rights Division, which agreed with the couple in 2014. They even ordered that the bakery completes “extensive sensitivity training”. After Philipps failed to have the Colorado Supreme Court hear his plea, he appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which agreed to take on the case.

So-called civil rights groups like the American Civil Rights Union stand with the plaintiffs, saying that “when businesses are open to the public, they’re supposed to be open to everyone.” Gay webzines like the Gaylygrind automatically call the defendant and his supporters “anti-LGBT hate groups.” Even Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson wants him to “bake the cake.”




A Business Is a Private Property

Well, folks, I am gay myself – I am even married – and I stand by Philipps’ right to discriminate against whoever he wants.

That, of course, makes me a traitor, a turkey voting for Thanksgiving – and if I were African American, it would also make me an Uncle Tom.

But why? Because many liberals stand by the ACLU’s faulty reasoning that businesses open to the public must serve everyone – it’s not “personal” property anymore. Faulty because it implies that, once you start selling a product or service, you automatically lose your right to freely and voluntarily interact with other people. It’s opened to the public, so it suddenly becomes public “property” and the business owner loses any say in who he or she does business with.

Following that logic, a Muslim baker would be forced to make a cake with Mohammed’s face on it – an unspeakable moral crime in Islam – Hooters would have to hire anyone as a server and gay bathhouses would have to welcome female patrons.Once the government decides what business must do, it can decide what all businesses must do.

As silly as the preceding examples sound, this is exactly what a SCOTUS decision in favor of the plaintiffs would entail. Once the government decides what one business must do, it can decide what all businesses must do. Don’t forget that parts of the US had been under this regimen for nearly 100 years after the end of the Civil War.

Indeed, the infamous Jim Crow laws not only maintained an apartheid-like state for African Americans, but they also dictated how private businesses needed to interact with these people. Had private bus companies been able to let all their customers sit wherever they want, Rosa Park would not have become an icon of civil disobedience since she would not have violated any arbitrary laws stating that she must go to the back of the bus. Instead, she would have ridden the bus that let her sit where she pleases.

Elf on the Shelf Needs to Get Benched

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Santa has had his fair share of helpers over the years—the Austrian Krapmus, the Dutch Zwarte Piet (Black Peter) and the German Knecht Ruprecht, just to name a few. But recently Santa has acquired a new helper—and he’s gaining popularity every day: The Elf on the Shelf. You likely know someone who has one; you may even have one yourself. Most see it as fun and harmless and innocent, but I would like to argue it is not. It’s something that should be avoided at all costs.




For those who don’t know what The Elf on the Shelf is, it is simply a small elf doll that you can place on a shelf (which you can buy for $29.95). But the name is not as self-explanatory as it first might seem; there’s much more. He comes with his own website, iPhone apps, and even his own TV Christmas special. But the controversial part is what you tell the kids about The Elf on the Shelf: “The elf is actually alive and moves around when you’re not looking. He’s watching you and you never know where he will turn up next. And if he sees you doing something wrong he reports directly back to Santa.” As his ad on Amazon stays:“Every year at Christmas, Santa sends his elves to watch you. And they go back and tell him who’s been bad and who’s been good. The Elf on the Shelf is watching you, what you say and what you do. The Elf on the Shelf is watching you, each and every Christmas.”Kids are not allowed to touch him and you are supposed to move him around every night to a different place in the house so the kids think he’s alive. This way, anytime the children misbehave, all you have to do is remind them that The Elf on the Shelf is watching.Fun right? A little Christmas joy along with an easy way to keep the children behaving for about a month. What could possibly be wrong with this seemingly harmless practice? I say plenty.I have argued against the Santa Claus lie – the practice of tricking your children into believing that Santa Claus is literally real – elsewhere (in 2009, 2010 and in my book The Myths that Stole Christmas). My argument is threefold. It’s a lie (that does not encourage imagination), it threatens your parental trustworthiness, and it encourages credulity. But The Elf on the Shelf is basically a steroid shot for the Santa Lie—a physical reminder of the Santa lie in your house for a whole month. So it should not be surprising that my objections to the practices surrounding The Elf on the Shelf are similar.




First, it most certainly is a lie. Of course, not all lies are morally wrong. Lies done for noble or monumental purposes are morally excusable, sometimes even morally praiseworthy. But the fun you have tricking your children into believing something false is not a noble cause; don’t fool yourself – you’re not saving any lives.Second, your children rely on you to give them accurate information about the way the world is, and you should want them to trust and believe what you say. But finding out that you have been lying to them – and even been playing an elaborate joke on them (for example by moving the elf yourself but telling them it moves on its own) – has the possibility of significantly eroding their ability to trust you. What else might you be lying about, or tricking them into believing? (Think it’s not a big deal? In some stories I have collected, children come to doubt God’s existence after learning the truth about Santa; “If mom and dad are lying about Santa, they’re probably lying about God too.” This is actually fairly good reasoning. Have you ever thought about how many characteristics the two characters share?)

Third, it promotes credulity – a gullibility and propensity to believe things that are false. Just like with Santa Claus, to get your children to believe The Elf on the Shelf is alive, you have to encourage them to turn off their critical thinking skills – don’t question, don’t doubt, just believe. This is not the kind of thing we want to encourage in our children; in fact, credulity is a major contributing factor to the decline of American civilization. As Hank Stuever put it in Tensel: A Search for America’s Christmas Present:




“If a child has concluded…that it’s impossible for a man in a flying sleigh to make it all the way around the world in one night, delivering elf made replicas of all the stuff you see in Target and Best Buy, then that’s a child I would be happy to steer toward a voting booth when she’s 18.  That’s an American in search of facts. If, however, she goes on pretending to believe well into her teens (I encountered more than one such teenager in Frisco) because it makes her parents (and God) feel sweet and happy, then I become worried. That becomes an American willing to spend $100,000 on her “special day” wedding or who will believe without hard evidence that other countries harbor weapons of mass destruction when they don’t.”

The One Minute Case For Atheism

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The One Minute Case For Atheism




Atheism is the lack of beliefAtheism is the lack of belief in the existence of gods. It is not a belief system or a religion but the denial that supernatural beings exist. There are atheists with all sorts of philosophies and beliefs.

You’re already an atheist

Even if you believe in a god, you probably don’t believe in other gods – Zeus, Osiris, Jupiter, Thor, Allah or Jesus. It’s hypocritical to be skeptical in the holy book, revealed prophets, miracle stories, or holy men of all religions but yours. You are an atheist when it comes to everyone else’s gods, so why give your god a free pass?




The burden of proof is on the theist

Can you prove that an invisible pink elephant is not floating above your head? How does one prove a negative in the absence of evidence? Theists make the exceptional claim that there is a god. That claim requires exceptional proof. The burden of proof is on the theist to prove God exists.

By using reason and science, humans have been expanding our knowledge of the world. Yet religionists continue to claim that there exists a supernatural realm immune to reason. Where is their proof? If a god is needed to create the universe, what created God? Rather than offer proof, mystics have often tried to silence and discredit those who reveal the complexity and majesty of the universe.

There are natural explanations for the universe

What keeps flowers from turning into rocks, or rocks from floating in the sky? It’s not the will of a supernatural deity, but the fact that flowers are not rocks, and gravity keeps things on the ground. The universe operates according to causal principles, without the need for any supernatural power to keep things from getting chaotic.

Morality does not need religion

Religious texts can offer moral guidance, but they are not the source of moral principles. Humans discovered long ago that following certain rules makes life more productive, peaceful, and pleasurable. Morality derives from human nature, not divine guidance. If one wishes to live a virtuous life, it is better to do so because of the earthly rewards of being virtuous than the fear of eternal punishment. Unlike a theist, an atheist knows that one life is all he has, and will try to live each day to the fullest.




Further reading

The Real Special Interest Groups Keeping Marijuana Criminalized

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From alcohol companies to pharmaceutical conglomerates, and police unions, there are a whole lot people hurt by the legalization of cannabis.

In this era of political polarization, when Americans seem to agree on absolutely nothing, let me reassure you. We overwhelmingly agree that cannabis should be legal.



1 in 5 Americans have (state) legal access, 1 in 2 have experimented with it, and more than 1 in 10 smoke regularly. Southern California yuppies are publicly winning prizes for growing the same plant that landed Georgia teenagers in prison.

Half of states allow at least limited use, and a few attract elite cannabis tourism. Federally, the drug remains fiercely criminalized, despite irrefutable evidence of its medical value.

So what’s the hold-up?

Being in the anti-marijuana business is astonishingly lucrative for bureaucrats and campaign donors. Here are just a few of the heavy hitters addicted to federal prohibition:

Big Booze:




National Beer Wholesalers Association

Anheuser-Busch InBev

Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America

The makers and distributors of America’s top-selling beers, wines, and liquors are already facing stiff competition from newly deregulated microbrewers and craft distilleries.

Cannabis prohibition shuts out a zero-calorie competitor with far fewer short- and long-term health risks. The industry donated (read: invested) $19 million to re-election campaigns in 2016, and another $4 million to soft money groups like “Public Safety First” which specifically oppose cannabis legalization efforts. The efforts here are well documented

Cannabis legalization does reduce alcohol sales, and its regular use reduces alcoholism and alcohol-related deaths. Each year 37,000 deaths in the US are attributed to alcohol, compared to zero deaths from cannabis use, ever. Brewers and distillers are eager to point “public health and safety” attention in another direction.




The Boys in Blue:

National Fraternal Order of Police

National Association of Police Organizations

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

The nation’s policy means guaranteed revenue, low-risk, peaceful “offenders” to fill arrest quotas, and easy excuses to search or detain citizens.

Local law enforcement has become highly dependent on federal and state money devoted to the War on Drugs. Civil asset forfeiture – a legacy of the 1984 drug war omnibus crime bill – allows local police departments to keep 80 percent of property seized in suspected (not proven) drug activity. Local cops regularly auction off homes and cars connected with small marijuana sales, pocketing the proceeds without convicting anyone of any crime. Drug raids “were no longer just about putting on a good show and terrorizing the counterculture. Now the raids could generate revenue for all of the police agencies involved.” (Randy Balko, Rise Of The Warrior Cop). Property stolen from innocent Americans (the Washington Post found 80 percent of victims of asset forfeiture were never even charged) has paid for military-grade equipment and SWAT teams used in still-more-terrifying drug raids for profit.

National Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, and literally dozens of smaller interest groups and political action committees represent the interests of law enforcement officers. Drug testing laboratories, prosecutors, drug court lawyers and judges, rehab centers, counselors, and other unionized social services also depend on marijuana arrests to keep numbers up.

For them, the nation’s outdated marijuana policy means guaranteed revenue, low-risk, peaceful “offenders” to fill arrest quotas, and easy excuses to search or detain citizens.

Read more

Minnesota Town Re-Relects Dog as Mayor

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CORMORANT TOWNSHIP, Minn. — Duke, a 9-year-old Great Pyrenees, won re-election as mayor of a small Minnesota town.

He will now be serving his third-straight term as mayor of Cormorant, according to WLWT.




He is so adored in the small town that no one even ran against him.

“I don’t know who would run against him because he’s done such great things for the community,” said Cormorant resident Karen Nelson, according to Detroit Lakes Online.

Duke won his first election three years ago and is expected to run again next year.

Family Finds Dead Father’s $80 Million in Gold Coins – Government Seizes It with No Explanation

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Imagine finding an old coin collection of your now deceased parents. Some of it is junk, but then you stumble upon something special. You go to a mint for authentication, and you leave it there momentarily, only to be told that the US government has seized it with no recompense and that there’s nothing you can do. This is exactly what happened to the Switt family.






A little context: The 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle coin was valued originally at only $20, but one owned by King Farouk of Egypt sold for a little over $7.5 million at a Sotheby’s auction in 2002.

Years following the U.S. abandoning the gold standard, a majority of the 445,500 double eagles that the Philadelphia Mint had struck were melted into bars of gold.

However, a Philadelphia Mint cashier had managed to give or sell some of them to a local coin dealer, Israel Switt.

In 2003, Switt’s family, including his daughter, Joan Langbord, and her two sons, drilled opened a small safety deposit box that had belonged to Israel. What they found were 10 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle coins.




When the family lent the coins to the Philadelphia Mint for authentication, the federal government chose to seize it without compensating the family.

The family rightfully sued, saying the coins belonged to them.

In 2011, a jury claimed that the rare coins belonged to the US government, which led to an appeal by the family.

Last week, Judge Legrome Davis of the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania, affirmed the original decision, stating “the coins in question were not lawfully removed from the United States Mint.”

The attorney for the family, Barry Berke, told ABCNews.com, “This is a case that raises many novel legal questions, including the limits on the government’s power to confiscate property. The Langbord family will be filing an appeal and looks forward to addressing these important issues before the 3rd Circuit.”

The family states that in a similar seizer of the 1933 double eagle, the government actually split the proceeds with the original owner after the coin sold for $7.59 million in 2002, according to Coinbooks.org.

Even if the original selling of the coins were under some controversy, the US government wouldn’t have even known they existed if the family hadn’t opened up the safety deposit box, and brought them to the Philadelphia mint.

What do you think? Is the family owed at least a portion of the sale of these rare coins?

Hollywood Child Abuse Documentary “An Open Secret” Released Online (For Free) – Watch it Here

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An Open Secret is a 2017 documentary about the rampant abuse of young boys at the hands of “important men” in Hollywood. It is now available online for a limited time for free . Make sure you watch this.
In an Open Secret, you’ll learn how high-powered Hollywood men groom parents and their children into trusting, up until the point that they can get close enough to exploit them. The slow drawn-out process is fueled by consistent manipulation and the lure of the Hollywood lifestyle which rips children away from their parents and into the hands of perverted old men.



Producer Gabe Hoffman made An Open Secret available online on Vimeo for a limited time “to commemorate serial predator Harvey Weinstein finally being exposed”. Hoffman stated:
“Harvey Weinstein, by the way, is not the only one who has used confidentiality settlements. That’s why more of Hollywood’s behavior hasn’t been exposed. This is the tip of the iceberg”
– Hollywood Reporter, Hollywood Sex Abuse Film ‘An Open Secret’ Released Online


The documentary follows the stories of five former child actors who were sexually abused by multiple predators. Much of the film focuses on Marc Collins-Rector, subsequently convicted of child sexual abuse, who co-owned and operated Digital Entertainment
Network. DEN produced brief online videos during the early days of the Internet, and was noted for wild parties featuring underaged boys at Collins-Rector’s house.= The parties are described in the film by participants.
The film makes multiple references to director Bryan Singer, who was alleged to be at some of the DEN parties,= but does not detail allegations against him. A lawsuit alleging that Singer sexually abused an underage boy was withdrawn during the production of the film. The film details only allegations made by persons willing to appear on camera.=
Among the persons interviewed is Vanity Fair journalist John Connolly, who states that an article on pedophilia in Hollywood was dropped at the last minute by Details magazine
You can watch the documentary on Vimeo in full here 

Here’s Why Scientists Are Saying “Don’t Make Your Bed”

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Growing up, most of us probably heard our parents tell us time and time again to make our beds each morning, but as it turns out, they could have been wrong.

Research from Kingston University has shown that making your bed in the morning traps in dust mites that have accumulated overnight and provides a breeding ground for allergens that can exacerbate asthma and allergies.



These microscopic bugs feed on scales of human skin, and they thrive in moist environments. When we sleep during the night, our bodies become warm and sweaty, making us a prime target for these dust mites to feed on our skin (and leave behind excretions that can give us asthma-like symptoms).

dust mite photo




Making your bed first thing in the morning traps in this moisture, allowing your bed to be a home for up to 1.5 million dust mites. If you leave your bed messy, however, the mites are exposed to air and sunlight, which causes them to become dehydrated and die out.

The Problem With Dust Mites

Because mites can produce allergens that are problematic for people with asthma or allergies, it’s important to minimize the number of mites milling around in your bed.

To search for a solution to the problem, scientists at the university developed a computer model to track the number of dust mites in the home, and they found that leaving your bed unkempt throughout the day is the best solution to reduce the number of dust mites. Letting your bed air out to remove any moisture inhibits mite survival, so you no longer have to feel guilty about heading out the door in a rush with your sheets in a tangle.

Adobe

If you’re someone who can’t stand a messy bed, at least consider leaving your bed unmade in the morning for a few hours, and putting it together later in the afternoon.



Combatting Dust Allergies

The American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology recommends the following to help combat dust allergies at home:

  • Remove wall-to-wall carpets, particularly in the bedroom.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom, and preferably out of the house.
  • Minimize household humidity.
  • Use “mite-proof” cases on mattresses and pillows; wash bed linens frequently in hot water.
  • Install a high-efficiency media filter in your furnace and air conditioning unit.

Keeping your house cool and dry can also help reduce dust mites, as they thrive best in a warm and humid environment.

thermostat photo
Getty Images | George Frey

Other Benefits Of Keeping Your House Cool

Besides combatting mites, keeping your home cool (between 60-67 degrees seems to be the ideal) while you sleep has been shown to provide a number of other health benefits,including:

1. Decreasing Your Risk For Metabolic Diseases

In a 4-month study, it was determined that sleeping in a 66-degree room not only burned more calories while awake, but the amount of “brown fat” (or good fat) in the body increased. Brown fat allows your body to burn calories, not store them. Together, this could help lower the risk for metabolic diseases like diabetes over time.

Maryland Church Fined $12,000 for Sheltering Homeless

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A local Maryland church has been fined $12,000 for providing shelter to homeless individuals living in the community. Over the last several years there has been a crackdown on privately funded charitable efforts, with local governments using food and safety concerns-along with zoning codes to penalize those who are trying to help those less fortunate.



Having the church provide this option has been a lifesaver for many

Just last month, 4,000 pounds of leftover barbecue from the World Series of BBQ in Kansas City, Missouri was destroyed before it was able to be served at a local homeless shelter. Local health officials claimed that they could not account for the safety of the food, even though the chefs who prepared the meat were world-renowned in their craft. As a result, 3,000 homeless people went without a meal.

In 2014, an elderly man in his 90s was jailed numerous times for feeding the homeless after a city ordinance was passed, forbidding citizens from doing so. While these are just a few examples, both instances demonstrate a pattern of local governments shutting down individuals who were willing to dedicate their time and funds to helping those in need.

The events currently unfolding at the Patapsco United Methodist Church in Maryland follow this same trend of punishing those seeking to do charity work on a private and voluntary scale. For some time now, a handful of homeless community members have been using the church for shelter during the late night hours. Since Maryland winters can be rough, having the church provide this option has been a lifesaver for many who would have otherwise slept out on the street.



Chase Away Sleeping People?

Reverend Katie Grover lamented, “I can’t control who sleeps here at night unless I’m here all day and all night. Homelessness, poverty, it’s chronic. At this point in time, the best we can do as a church is just be a place of refuge and not be chasing people who are just trying to sleep.”

For the most part, the church has been able to provide shelter to these homeless individuals without strong opposition from the surrounding community. However, Chester Bartko, whose property line lies just behind the church, has insisted that the church put an end to providing shelter to those with nowhere else to go.

Bartko, who has repeatedly alerted local officials to the church’s actions, believes that the homeless should be seeking assistance elsewhere. “The county and state has facilities for homeless people. They shouldn’t be here living like this,” Bartko told local reporters. Bartko has also asserted that one of his apple trees, which rests on the other side of the church’s fence has been ruined by these homeless visitors, but these reports have not yet been confirmed.

Must Have a Permit! 


Since the church does not have the proper permit which would allow these homeless visitors to reside there overnight, the city is demanding that the church pay a $12,000 fine by December the 18th.

In times of economic uncertainty, communities should empower churches and other private organizations to give as much as they are willing to give. By creating criminals out of do-gooders, and then sending those in need back to into the state’s arms, we are not doing anything to strengthen our communities.

Reverend Grover is beside herself now that she is unable to continue what she believes to be God’s work. “This is the business that we conduct carrying for the least, the last and the lost, and the best we can do right now is let them take refuge,” she said. “I had one woman say this is the only place she felt safe to lay her head down to sleep at night because she has no place else to go. It’s an issue with no real good solution, but we as a church believe that Christ has called us to serve the least, the last, and the lost.”

Brittany Hunter


Brittany Hunter

Brittany Hunter is an associate editor at FEE. Brittany studied political science at Utah Valley University with a minor in Constitutional studies.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

DIY: How To Make Your Own Kombucha!

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Move over home brew. There is a healthier drink “grow your own” fans can create in the kitchen. Kombucha, made from a live symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, is one of the country’s fastest growing health trends.




What is it?

Kombucha (kom-BOO-cha) is a tart-tasting fizzy beverage made by fermentation. Its sweet, tangy flavour and low sugar content have made it a popular alternative to sugar-laden soft drinks.

Kombucha is made by adding a scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) to a solution of sugar and tea. During the fermentation, the bacteria and yeast on the scoby ferment the tea and sugar to make a sour-tasting tonic. As the scoby grows, it can be broken off into sections to start a new batch. Due to its gelatinous, blob-like appearance, the scoby is also referred to as a mother culture, tea beast, fungus or mushroom.

A jar of kombucha during fermentation.
A jar of kombucha during fermentation. Photo: Science Photo Library

Kombucha has long been popular among home cooks and underground food networks. But it is becoming more readily available through retail outlets.

Why is it important?

Kombucha has a deliciously sweet, tangy flavour. It is cheap and easy to prepare and there is enormous scope for flavour variation – from herbs and spices to fresh fruit and even a slow-fermented kombucha champagne.

Nutrition snapshot

When the scoby ferments the sweet tea solution to make kombucha, it produces several useful compounds.





These include beneficial acids such as acetic acid, commonly found in vinegar, which can help control “bad” micro-organisms within the gut.

Kombucha also contains B vitamins, folic acid, tea polyphenols and antioxidants.

It is often referred to as a source of probiotics, but the amount of probiotic bacteria within kombucha brews can vary. It contains several components (acids, enzymes, bacteria and yeast) that can influence the health and balance of gut microflora.




How to make kombucha

It can easily be made at homewith a starter culture (scoby), tea and sugar.

Recipe

3 litres boiled water (filtered if possible)

5 black or green tea bags or the equivalent in loose-leaf tea

1 cup white or raw sugar

1 kombucha scoby (see below)

1 cup kombucha liquid from a previous batch

1. Add the water and sugar to a large saucepan and simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, add the tea and allow it to rest for 30-60 minutes.

2. Remove the tea bags, and allow the solution to cool to room temperature. Pour into a large, sterilised glass vessel and add the scoby and kombucha liquid. Cover with a tea towel and secure with string or a rubber band.

3. Keep in a warm, dry place (the preferred temperature for kombucha brewing is 24C-32C) away from direct sunlight. Leave undisturbed for a minimum seven to 10 days.

4. During this time, it will grow a baby scoby on the top of the liquid. It will also develop a sour, tart flavour as the scoby consumes the sugar.

5. When the sour flavour is well developed, strain the kombucha liquid from the scoby using a coffee filter or plastic sieve (do not use metal). Keep the scoby, along with one cup of the liquid for a subsequent batch, and either drink the remaining liquid or ferment into a “flavoured booch”.

Gingerade kombucha

1 litre kombucha liquid

½ cup fresh pineapple juice, or 1 cup finely chopped pineapple

1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger

¼ cup mint leaves

1. Combine the kombucha liquid with the pineapple and ginger and stir well. Place in glass bottles and refrigerate overnight.

2. Serve with ice and fresh mint leaves.

How to source a kombucha scoby

Many online and retail outlets, such as The Raw Food Store and NourishmeOrganics, sell kombucha scobys. You can also ask a friend who regularly brews their own kombucha if you can have a portion of their scoby once it has doubled in size.

Troubleshooting

The scoby will develop a shiny, gelatinous texture as it grows. Be sure to discard any batch that develops mould. This is usually the Aspergillus species and can be harmful.