Saturday, April 24, 2010

Low Down and Dirty!

In honor of our recent viewing of Dirt! the movie, I thought it only fitting to muse a bit on the subject of this misunderstood substance that we take for granted.

It seems that nowadays we do anything in our power to avoid or remove dirt from our lives and we give it a bad rap. The word dirt brings to mind images of filth and contamination, it is a negative thing to be washed away to hopefully never be seen again. In reality, dirt is what sustains us, without it there would be no modern civilization, and we would live in a state of perpetual chaos and uncertainty. Dirt allows us to settle in and establish our cultures, it let's us cultivate the foods we need and build the lives we want.

Something I have thought about numerous times over the past year or so came to mind again last night while viewing this movie, I thought about how out of balance our system is. On the one hand we have commercial-industrial crop production, monoculture's stripping the dirt of vital nutrients on a massive scale season after season and we are able to do this by relying on inefficient artificial chemical fertilizers that destroy the natural life that exists in the soil.

On the other hand we have an immense waste production problem, thousands of tons per year of food waste are buried in landfills where they do very little other than lower the property value of surrounding areas and uselessly take up space.

There is a potential solution to be found. Why can't we take the compostable items like paper, cardboard and food waste and turn them into nutrient rich natural fertilizer that feeds not only the crops we are trying to grow but also the life below the surface that we can't see and never think about like worms, insects protozoa, fungi and beneficial microorganisms? It is work like this that could eventually make some serious changes to the economy as well as the health and well being of this country. This kind of change has the potential to create more jobs, especially for the blue collar working class (majority of the U.S.) thus reducing the economic hardships such as we have been looking at these past couple years.

If we were to begin this sort of "dirt therapy", we could potentially turn around the state of health in the general public as well. The greater the quantity and quality of soil nutrients (both macro & micro), the higher the quality of food produced in that soil which in turn creates higher levels of disease resistance in both the plants and the people that eat them.

Some final bonuses to implementing this sort of industrial composting system is that it would allow us to farm the same land with less negative environmental impact and potentially better yields in the long run, also reducing our dependence on petroleum to produce our chemical fertilizers. On top of all that, this would reduce our need for landfill space while recycling our garbage into something more useful.

So remember, the next time you're wishing you had a better lawn or a more plentiful garden just look at what you are putting in the trash can, chances are there's some really good dirt to be made from it.

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