"You know you came from it...and someday you'll return to it."
"Dirt" -- Florida Georgia Line
Soil
In our overly sanitized, sterilized, anti-bacterial-focused modern world, it seems that one of the things humans most fear is dirt. And it is no wonder, as for many years of early civilization, diseases were closely linked to hygiene, and cleanliness (or the lack thereof) was often to blame for the spread of many dangerous illnesses. So indeed, we have come a long way. But we must not forget that dirt is also a necessary part of life. and in fact, none of us would be alive today without the life-giving properties of good soil.

Growing up on a farm, this is something that is pretty obvious to me, but for those who did not have the close connection that I had with the earth beneath my feet, it may not be your first thought when you think of food. But whether you are vegan, omnivorous, or some other label you give yourself - no matter what your diet is like - everything that you eat at one time, in some form, came from the soil.


I was recently reminded of this by one of my new favorite songs. In "Dirt," Florida Georgia Line explores most of the common themes of country music - love, family, home, patriotism, and the value of hard work - through a nostalgic connection that so many of us have lost: a connection to the soil that is down there, somewhere, beneath all of our feet - no matter where we live. I think part of the reason this song has become so instantly popular is because we do all feel, somewhere deep inside, that this vital connection has somehow been lost for so many of us. Of course, with my upbringing, it instantly resonated with me, and got me thinking about how disconnected most of our lives have become from dirt....

Dirt is not something to be feared, as so many of us seem to think; indeed, there's a lot of great stuff to be learned from dirt! We will probably never even begin to know all of the billions of species of microbes and other organisms that live in the soil - but we do know that they are important for growing our food. And more and more people are realizing that our current methods of industrial farming are harming many of these important microbes, and impoverishing our soil - and thus our food supply. It's not just the methods of over-farming that are depleting the nutrients in our food; it's also the fact that so many of the beneficial bacteria that support our soils and help grow foods are being disrupted by chemicals and harmful farming methods.

Some of these beneficial  microbes help our digestion, and others support a healthy immune system. For thousands of years, people used natural fermentation as a means of preserving food - and some of the microbes found on vegetables grow in healthy soil helped that fermentation process along, and also helped us digest our food. Now we rarely eat truly fermented foods, and we are suffering the consequences as our healthy gut bacteria pines away, leading to a whole host of modern diseases, allergies and unbalanced immune response.
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Besides all this, there's something about playing in the dirt that just feels good! Any child who has ever made a mud pie can tell you that - but gardeners can too! And now it's scientifically proven.... Several recent studies have made it into the news over the past few years, showing that it's not just your imagination - getting your hands dirty actually does make you happy!  Here are a few links:

Is Dirt the New Prozac? - Discover Magazine
Anti-Depressant Microbes In Soil - How Dirt Makes You Happy - Gardening Know-How.com
Dirt Exposure Boosts Happiness - BBC News

Obviously we should all practice good hygiene, and we shouldn't abandon modern improvements to sanitation! But we also shouldn't fear the dirt. In fact, getting connected with the soil just may make you healthier.... Or at the very least, happier - which is part of the same thing! Remember - it's all connected, and as Florida Georgia Line reminds us, nothing connects us all like the dirt that we all came from, and someday will return to....

Happy gardening!
Rose.

P.S. Visit our Sustainable Gardening page for tips and resources for getting your own natural, healthy garden started!

 


Comments

02/25/2015 7:48am

Education makes a person reliable and capable to speak in front of others, use their talents to motivate others by sharing their experiences and solution to problems at the different stages in their journey of success.

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