Is dirt the new new thing?

Back to our roots? Literally and symbolically? I recently blogged about the White House kitchen garden.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor

Back to our roots? Literally and symbolically? I recently blogged about the White House kitchen garden. Turns out the MSM thinks this is part of a food revolution in America. Anything for a trend that has nothing directly to do with banking. Turns out even the Secretary of Agriculture is starting a garden, big symbolism for an agency dedicated to maximum profits and subsidies for huge agribusinesses.

There are enormous subsidies for cotton, rice, wheat, corn, soybeans. Think of them as big banks. Not a lot goes into salad greens, fresh apples, carrots or tomatoes. Think of them as your local produce stand.

Food has been so un-sexy in American politics that it has its own feature section. Farm legislation rarely gets covered. Our food, where it comes, what's in it and how we produce it--these have winde-ranging effects from health to the economy to the environment.

Agriculture is a major user of energy in America. That's even before you add in all petroleum needed to produce pesticides and artificial fertilizers, and truck all that stuff. Then there is the huge food processing and shipping and storage industry. And the plastic packaging, hundreds of square miles of the stuff every year. And then there's all the water pumped and used in the arid Western U.S. Where we grow moisture loving crops like oranges, rice and cotton.

We Americans normally take food for granted because we normally have plenty, but it's a major sector of the economy here and everywhere. And food, means dirt. Polite name: soil. Interestingly there are no signs of venture capital going into soil research. There is plenty of work on alternative crops to provide cellulose for brewing ethanol or making biodiesel.


One scientist has just published a book, Why Dirt Is Good. Her thesis: dirt will make you healthy. Too many disinfectants will make you sick and weaken your natural resistance to disease. If you can't find clean water, use an alcohol-based cleanser.

Another scientist suggests, "Children should be allowed to go barefoot in the dirt, play in the dirt, and not have to wash their hands when they come in to eat.” He also suggests a dog and cat in the family, good dirt there. And dirt is your friend?

One greentech push is using organisms found in and on the soil: mycotechnology. The mushroom fans are telling us that mycology can solve a wide range of pollution and waste recycling problems. This is one step beyond composting. So maybe fungi are our friends, too?

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