"You know you came from it...and someday you'll return to it."
"Dirt" -- Florida Georgia Line
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.
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.
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....
P.S. Visit our Sustainable Gardening page for tips and resources for getting your own natural, healthy garden started!