It’s not dirt, it’s soil. And soil health determines human health and the health of the planet. So, it’s important that you understand what’s involved as you go about creating your best possible 100 Year Lifestyle. It is necessary these days to understand issues such as soil health in order to make choices that lead to 100:100, living at 100% for 100 years…or more.
Dirt does not and can not support life. Think of an old dirt road. You can’t create a thriving garden in dirt. Technically, dirt is composed of sand, silt, and clay. It may contain rocks. It contains none of the minerals, nutrients, or living organisms that are found in soil. Dirt is dry, lacks texture, and takes to the air at the slightest movement of the wind. It doesn’t compact after a rain. No worms call it home. It is not an ecosystem with topsoil and humus like soil. Dirt is dead.
Soil, on the other hand, is full of life. It can take thousands of years to form as rocks erode and organic matter. Organic matter are the bacteria and fungi found in soil. Bacteria produce natural antibiotics that enable plants to resist disease. Fungi help plants to absorb water and nutrients from the soil. The more organic matter, the healthier the soil. If you want to improve your garden soil and you don’t have thousands of years to do it, another faster option is adding compost.
Soil Health and Nutrition
The good news is, the healthier the soil, the healthier the food that is grown in that soil. The healthier the food, the healthier the community. But why are we even talking about soil health? Can’t we just trust that our produce is grown in healthy soil? The answer to that question is no. According to our friends at Organic Consumers Association, while farmers today grow more produce per acre of land than they did decades ago, those crops are less nutritious.
Studies have shown that modern produce has 10% to 25% lower levels of iron, zinc, protein, calcium, vitamin C, and other essential nutrients per pound of produce or grain.
What does that mean? First, it means that we have more food being grown, but it has less nutritional value. Second, it means that to get the same nutrition that our parents got on a daily basis, we need to eat more. In some cases, a lot more.
Look at your own diet? Are you eating more plant-based foods to get the vitamins and nutrients you need, or are you opting for processed foods? If you’re doing the latter, and processed food comprises a large portion of your daily intake, chances are you are nutritionally deprived. The fact that so many people today are nutritionally deprived explains the epidemic numbers of Americans suffering from obesity and diabetes, as well as a myriad of other diet and lifestyle related diseases.
So, what’s the solution? Eat organic and biodynamic. Since organic and biodynamic farmers take care to not use pesticides and other chemicals in the growing process, and also utilize organic growing methods such as cover crops and no-till, eating organic is better for you and drastically improves the health of the soil. According to the research conducted at the Rodale Institute, organic systems increase soil organic matter and soil health over time.
Organically grown food is better for you because you are consuming higher quality, more nutritionally dense produce and grains that are toxin free. It’s better for the planet because these farmers are improving soil health for us all while eating away at the continued use of chemicals that harm not only the soil but also the water, air, and human population.
When the soil around the globe is healthy, the planet and its people will all be healthier. Luckily, you can start to make soil health a priority by buying and eating organic food, shopping locally, getting to know your local organic farmers, and by sharing information with others. There is a lot of confusing information these days, particularly surrounding our food.