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Eat More Dirt

June 21, 2012

My morning routine gets me moving and my brain awakening. After I get my coffee and breakfast prepared, I carry it to my desk where the computer is first turned to email.  I was happy to see today that this blog has a new subscriber who lives in the Philappines. We can safely assume she will not be shopping our farmers markets but something I wrote struck a cord for her and she signed on. Welcome!  The local food movement is growing!

As I wandered down my email I came to my daily subscription for the New York Times. One of the op-ed pieces caught my eye and I want to share it with you: Dirtying Up Our Diets was written by Jeff D. Leach, a science and archaeology writer and founder of the Human Food Project. In the New York Times piece Leach poses one benefit to the increase in farmers market participation that I had not considered: we will be eating more dirt!

During the 20th century more Americans moved off the farm into the cities and no longer grew a good percentage of their own food. As food distribution industrialized, packaging of fresh produce became more prevalent and now we can get prewashed plastic bags of salads, vegetables all cut up ready for stir frying, and even prepared trays of fruit to bring to the next office party.

That popular time saving package saves you germs too. Sounds good, right?

Well, Leach says it is not all good. While he is not truly suggesting that we actually go eat some dirt and therefore ingest some harmful bacteria, he does say that all this washing has resulted in a reduction of the GOOD bacteria that our guts need.

source: Lauren Nassef//New York Times

He also suggests that the rapid increases in diseases that are tied to our immune systems not functioning properly, things like allergies and lupus and autism to name a few, can probably be reversed if we get more dirt back into our diet. That it is the beneficial micro-organisms that our grandparents and prior generations typically ingested that we are missing because of our triple-washed time-savings purchases at the supermarket produce section.

Read the piece for yourself….don’t let my early morning not-even-done-with-my-first-cup-of-coffee brain do your thinking for you…and then go pull a carrot from the garden and, like Chef Tim Urbanik laughed, telling me stories about his childhood, just brush it off before you eat it. A little dirt is good for you!


(By the way, this blog is now read by over 450 people each day!! Perhaps I need to offer a nice prize to encourage each of you to invite others. The more people who read this in West Virginia, the more the instate farm resources will be enjoyed.)

11 Comments leave one →
  1. dave coster permalink
    June 21, 2012 6:55 am

    Beth-I look forward to this each morning. Accept my continued thanks and appreciation for all you and Graham do. Hopefully, I will see you tonight at the artwalk. Dave

    • June 21, 2012 6:59 am

      Dave, thanks! You know how much I enjoy being involved in the great things here in Huntington!! Life is too short and can be so much more fun to just sit in front of the tv each evening!

  2. June 21, 2012 7:31 am

    A big tip of the hat for the amount of folks you have reading your blog now. There’s a lot of truth in what the article said about good micro organisms etc in dirt. I grew up in the potato fields of Idaho. I can remember my mom telling us boys when we prepped spuds for baking “Don’t go scrubbing them clean ,just wash off the big stuff, the little stuff is good for you.”
    It was an art removing just the sandy soil and leaving the dirt! We always ate the skins too unless they had to be peeled for mashing or slicing.

    • June 21, 2012 7:45 am

      My mom was a nurse and very strong on “cleanliness” but she was very quick to see the correlation between diet and health….or rather how health issues were increasing as diets transitioned for convenience. Our tendency to want things to be “clean” here has contributed to the bacteria which have evolved to not being treated as easily in serious illnesses.

      • June 21, 2012 8:18 am

        That’s why folks should stay away from ‘antibacterial’ products such as soaps. We need the bacteria and fungi (normal flora) that grows on our skin. Normal flora devours bacteria and fungi that can be harmful to us.
        It gives a new insight into the spring bath! LOL

      • June 21, 2012 8:20 am

        Well, perhaps more than once a year for a bath to keep the people in your life happy LOL

      • June 21, 2012 8:20 am

        Well, perhaps more than once a year for a bath to keep the people in your life happy LOL

  3. June 21, 2012 8:03 am

    Reblogged this on My Perspective on Loving, Living, Learning and Laughing and commented:
    Great post! I hope you don’t mind if I share it with my readers…

    • July 6, 2012 12:36 pm

      Thanks….interesting points. I wonder how much of my own allergy issues, despite my mom (a nurse) making sure we ate a balanced and healthy diet, are because of the chemicals that are in so much of our food.


  1. Eat More Dirt « My Perspective on Loving, Living, Learning and Laughing

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