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Eat Dirt!

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Yes, the new advice is to eat dirt for it provides many of the health benefits our bodies crave and need. You could go out and scoop up dirt from your yard and eat it, but I would not advise it. LOL. I doubt you would die, but there is a connection to the soil our foods are grown in AND our health. Do you know where your vegetables have been raised? Do you know what the animals are eating that you are eating? Is their food sprayed with glyphosate ( round up) or other chemicals? Do you care? Dirt is essential to the health of people as well as plants and animals. We walk on it daily and never even give it a second thought. We take it for granted. We should nurture if for it needs our care to live.

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Did you know that in one teaspoon of soil there are more soil microorganisms than there are people on the earth!Millions of species and billions of organisms—bacteria, algae, microscopic insects, earthworms, beetles, ants, mites, fungi and more—represent the greatest concentration of biomass anywhere on the planet! Microbes, which make up only one half of one percent of the total soil mass, are the yeasts, algae, protozoa, bacteria, nematodes, and fungi that process organic matter into rich, dark, stable humus in the soil.The best soil on most farms is found in the fence row. “ Too often we think living in the city on our small lot does not make a difference. What we do in our city lot does change things right under our feet.I have a lot of teaspoons in my city lot! How about you? Pretty amazing.

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Winter is here and time to build our soil for next year.….We are connected to the earth and it seems today we are getting further away from that healthy connection. Everyone is afraid of dirt. I have wonderful neighbors. My one neighbor was chatting over the fence a few years ago, he asked, “You don’t eat that stuff  you grow in your yard?” What has happened that people are so far removed from the land we use to work to survive. They are afraid to eat food they grow.

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We are too dependent on the local grocery store for all our food. We have no idea where our food comes from and how it is grown. We use to grow our own food and had our hands in the dirt. Dirt was a part of our life. We lived with dirt but now we are so overly sterile in this world that we “wash our veggies” by scrubbing the health right out of them! I can understand doing this if you do not have access to organic food.The pesticide residue is important to eliminate from your diet, but a little healthy “organic” dirt, according to the experts is good for your health.

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Yes, you heard me right. A little dirt does not hurt you it makes your immune system stronger.I have been wanting to write this article for several weeks but I just couldn’t get started. Where do I begin? Well, I thought a video might help so here is a quick explanation since I am not a doctor or scientist. I am an educator. I picked a video about 5 minutes in length since I know people don’t have a lot of time these days. Look around there is a ton of information being written about the relationship between our gut flora and our health. If you have an hour to spare, educate yourself. Please learn about how your health is connected to your gut and the soil. There is a relationship.

As I sit here writing my blog post today;  blowers and lawn mowers are running all around me and they are LOUD!!!It is an unusually warm week in the 50’s to 60’s in Midwest USA. I rode my bike on the river yesterday and plan on riding tomorrow.  I am not going to tidy up my yard until spring. I let it all die down to help nourish the soil, plants, and pollinators. They need someplace to hide!

 My neighbors don’t understand the need to feed the soil. How the health of their soil and nature around them contributes to their overall health. They want everything neat and not ONE brown leaf on their wall to wall outdoor turf- carpet. It has to be perfect! I use to be like that until I learned THAT old practice of cleaning up everything in the spring contributes to the decline of our health and nature. If you care about native pollinators you will leave it up for them and all the other beneficial insects that need your help to stay alive in the living soil. They hide in your garden debris which builds your soil. It all works together to keep us healthy.

I’ve been thinking a lot about why I do what I do in my small city lot. My husband and I are empty nesters now. Our kids are all adults. We really don’t need to live where we do but there is a reason I am staying. I have a relationship with my soil. Yes, it sounds strange.I don’t want to move because I am connected to my soil. It helps heal me daily through working in it, eating the produce from it (my own dirt!) and relaxing or escaping to my garden. I am connected to the earth through my Urban Potager. If you create a place in the city to grow food; it draws you in and teaches you how to heal. All you need to do is get your hands in the dirt. Haven’t you heard the new Prozac is dirt? ( read more here).

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I have been feeding my living soil for the past decade and it has made a difference in my health. I know a decade ago, I would have thought you were nuts if you told me that my dirt was keeping me healthy. To think the very thing we always are trying to clear away from ourselves or our food; is the one thing that may help to heal our bodies…eat some dirt today! I know I am.

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Please educate yourselves. A little dirt on your oxheart carrot from your Urban Potager won’t hurt you it may help you be healthy!

For more information-Read from The Atlantic a good article on this subject-

Healthy Soil Microbes, Healthy People

The microbial community in the ground is as important as the one in our guts.

34 replies »

  1. An excellent article Robbie! The first thing that strikes me is how Americans call the noun soil ‘dirt’. I guess it comes from an alternative meaning of the word soil – ‘to dirty’. And right there is a problem! 🙂 But we have them here too, the people who keep everything clean and pristine. They use hand cleaners constantly that kill of all bacteria on their hands – the good as well as any bad. They have illnesses and don’t why. They eat ‘healthy’ food but purchase all their vegetables from the supermarket which sells foodstuffs grown in chemicals and treated for longevity with more chemicals. It seems so obvious to some of us but not at all obvious to others. Why is this?

    This huge disconnect between what we eat and our health is – or should be – a huge concern to all thinking people. Yet our health professionals aren’t taught it and know only how to treat symptoms with pharmaceuticals instead of asking why, what is the cause of this symptom and how can we attend to that?

    Keep up your good work – I wonder if you are having any impact on your neighbours? It is a bit hard to believe that man who asked if you were going to eat the food you had grown was serious. Really? Is the disconnect that great? Voices other than big pharma and big chemical and convenience food processors have to be heard – keep at it xoxo

    • He is a good neighbor but he really did ask me that one day. I had them over to dinner a few weeks later and served a salad from my garden. His wife was raised on a farm and she was stunned that he was afraid to eat a salad. I told him he should stop watching those shows about “parasites” in people. lol. I told him to eat some garlic, that I grow! But I will give him credit he did eat the salad and the next day over the fence, I said, “look you did not die?” LOL
      Today you hear about fermented foods and gut flora so I figure people will catch on eventually or they will just remain miserable and dependent on pills to survive….Well, at least I am happy with my dirt-I am not pristine, far from it!!

  2. Mother Earth is the ultimate nurturer. But it is a give and take proposition, you get out what you put in. It is all connected. Good post, Robbie. Keep raising the consciousness!

  3. It’s interesting, that question. I think most people don’t realize that if something disrupted the supply chain, our grocery stores could be empty in three days. It’s good to have a little store of your own food. Not to mention it’s good to eat such good food. Nice article!

    • I am learning each year how to grow more of my food. It is difficult in the city to grow ALL of your food-we need to grow some:-) I enjoy not being dependent on the grocery store for some of my greens. It tastes so much better from the garden!

  4. Every time I get ants in my pants and suggest we move, my husband kindly reminds me that that would mean starting my soil from “scratch” once again. Maybe not scratch, but under nourished and tired soil. Then again, if we move, I’ll be revitalizing more soil…

    • lol, you are a right. I should look at it that way, but you are young and have many years to build soil. I’m not as young, so 10 yrs is a chunk out of life-LOL

  5. I just harvested some potatoes today. I didn’t quite get all the dirt off them but they were delicious anyway. I don’t mind eating a bit of my own dirt!

  6. In master gardener class we were taught that dirt and soil are two very different things. Dirt is the stuff that you use to fill in a landfill or the stuff that is on your kitchen floor. Soil is the holy grail! So really we should eat soil! Sip on soil? Soil slushies? We certainly ate our share of soil/sand on some collards recently ha ha. Here in my winter, soon to be main, home, we have sand! I still compost though. I bury about a bucket a week. Just dig a hole in the sand somewhere and dump in the bucket and tamp it over so I am feeding the sand in hopes of having soil one day. When I plant a new plant I put cardboard scraps in the bottom of the hole to better retain water while the plant becomes established. I am getting this whole Florida thing! I didn’t think I could ever leave the Violet Fern garden – there is so much toil and soil and sweat invested in her – but she is up for sale this coming summer! I am embracing the change! It’s fun to make soil. I like that you have pointed out what a precious resource soil is. I think all of us take it for granted. I also think your neighbors are weird LOL.

    • lol. Yes , some of them are odd in the world of gardeners. In their circle of baggers ( put out all their organic matter to be picked upat the curb!) they discuss when the next free pick up is for their leaves. I watch them struggle to fill their bags. One neighbor has them working the dried leaves back into their carpet lawns. That is progress! My one neighbor asked me if I did that and wondered why I collected the leaves to take to the backyard when I could put them back into my lawn. I chuckled and said, I feed my garden soil. She looked at me with as if I was nuts-LOL. I feel they miss the boat in elementary school. We should teach young kids how to garden and put organic matter back into the soil.
      I agree dirt vs soil there is a difference, but he called his book, “Eat Dirt”. I almost feel it would not get the attention of people if you said ” Eat Soil”LOL
      I know when I leave this place it will be a hard thing for I do have a symbiotic relationship with my soil:-)

  7. Excellent post as always Robbie. And such an important message! In fact lots of important messages. I just don’t know how we will get through to some people. But we must keep trying.

    • no kidding, we sure do need to keep telling others. I don’t know if it will be something most people even think about. I do know the relationship between my health and the soil/dirt in my yard is what keeps me going:-)

      • Right back atcha Robbie 🙂 I should get a blog post done today. I picked up a stack of veggies and a couple of interesting things at the nursery yesterday including a “mushroom leaf plant” that comes from Papua New Guinea and the leaves taste like mushrooms! I have to work out where to put it yet but it really does taste like shrooms 🙂

      • It really does taste like mushrooms (raw mushrooms) and you can use it with stir fries and pasta sauces etc. to get a mushroom flavour 🙂

      • :-)thank you, I looked it up but it is not perennial for my zone-darn. I found the plant on line but I would need to bring it inside during the winter. It sounds so interesting that I may have to try it for I want to try that mushroom taste. Very healthy plant to eat too!!!

      • Lots of protein and calcium apparently which is very interesting as it apparently takes up a lot of nutrients from the soil and is either high in calcium or manganese either way “SCORE!” I would be checking online to see if you can get one anywhere Robbie. I am guessing its one of those things that we have easy access to because Papua New Guinea is just off the top end of Australia. For once, I have it and not you! That doesn’t happen very often I can tell you. I don’t know how many times I have lusted after something that you have mentioned and know that I have no chance of getting. I am quite sure that if you checked out some of the more permaculture based nurseries that they would at least have heard of it because it seems to be up there on the nutrition list for permaculturists to grow.

      • Thank you for all your advice! I did find it (finally-you were right!) and I am thinking, maybe I can keep it in a container and bring it inside for winter. I really want to eat this plant-LOL
        So true, too often I have a plant/ seed your country won’t let you purchase abroad or I can’t send you seed:-( I hope you do a post on this plant, for it sounds fascinating, nutritious and yummy!

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