Fitness and Health Healthy Eating Tips

Let's Talk "Dirty"

All too often we hear about saving the planet by recycling or reducing carbon emissions. But we do not hear much about saving our soil. I just got finished reading an article in Today’s Dietitian entitled, “Digging Into Soil Health” by Sharon Palmer. All that “dirty” talk was a little difficult for me to understand, so I thought blogging about it would help bring better understanding to a topic that needs more discussion.
We need to understand more of the factors that affect our health and we should start at the beginning. Taking care of Mother Earth and her soil will help improve health and will fuel our bodies with the right balance of nutrients.
Angie Tagtow, MS, RD, LD owner of Environmental Nutrition Solutions made an important analogy that I thought would be interesting to share. “Ironically, we treat soil, plants, livestock, and humans in similar ways. When disease occurs, a chemical is applied or pharmaceutical is prescribed. The etiology of the disease is often ignored, and disease prevention strategies are not adopted. Taking a preventive or wellness approach to soil, water, and biodiversity is the key for ensuring a resilient, sustainable, and healthy food system, now and in the future.”
I second that and I’m with you all the way Angie!
The “Dirt” on Dirt
The soil contains its own ecosystem and we need to respect its natural environment. However, modern agriculture is taking a toll on the earth, the tiny creatures that inhabit the soil and the food products that the soil produces.
Phil Warman, an agronomist and professor of agricultural sciences at Nova Scotia Agricultural College, believes, “The emphasis is on appearance, storability and transportability, and there has been much less emphasis on the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables. Crops are bred to produce higher yields, to be resistant to disease and to produce more visually attractive fruits and vegetables, but little or no emphasis is placed on their vitamin or mineral content.”
Before big business entered the farming industry, nutrients in the soil were balanced because farms were balanced. Farms produced a variety of crops in soil that was rotated, they had animals to provide manure (a natural fertilizer), and pesticides were not used. Now centralized farms specialize in growing a large quantity of one crop or “monocropping” and these “farms” have replaced many local farms.
Here’s how modern agriculture reduces soil quality
1. Poor land management leads to erosion, destroying organisms, nutrients, plant fertility, moisture retention and water filtration
2. Unlike manure, fertilizers only feed the plants not the soil and it does not help to sustain the life of important organisms that live in the soil. It does provide high levels of nitrogen and not enough of other nutrients to help keep nutritional balance in the soil
3. Pesticides, numbers 1&2 above, lead to crops that are less pest resilient and add toxins to the soil… and we all know that toxins are harmful to humans
Eating fruits and vegetables is supposed to be healthy, right? Well there is no doubt that consuming fruits and veggies is a MUST. However, we need to be educated consumers when it comes to our food supply and the food we eat. We’ll get more benefit from consuming healthier plants that grow in healthy soil. As Dr. Tim Lang sees it, “declining nutrient levels [in crops] may prove to be a health issue because we are only beginning to understand how important micro nutrients are to disease prevention.”
To see just how much the quality of our food supply has been affected, check in later, I’ll be back soon.

About the author

Valerie Goldstein

Valerie raises the bar for health and nutrition know how with unconventional expertise and unconditional support for wellness.