The secret to good health may start with dirt says Monica Nickelsburg, writing for The Week:
The fountain of youth may be made of dirt.
So supposes Steve Solomon in The Intelligent Gardner: Growing Nutrient-Dense Food. He asserts that most people could “live past age 100, die with all their original teeth, up to their final weeks, and this could all happen if only we fertilize all our food crops differently.” It’s a bold statement, but mounting evidence suggests that remineralization could be the definitive solution to our nutrient-light diet.
Concerns about the quality of our food tend to focus on the many evils of modern industrial farming, but 10,000 years of agriculture have created a more insidious problem. The minerals and phytonutrients historically derived from rich soil are diminishing in our produce and meat. It takes 500 years for nature to build two centimeters of living soil and only seconds for us to destroy it. While pesticides, chemical-rich fertilizers, and agro-tech exacerbate the problem, even natural gardening can leach soil of vital minerals. When the same land is constantly re-cultivated without replenishing phytonutrients it yields more disappointing and nutrient-deficient crops.
Jo Robinson of The New York Times writes:
Studies published within the past 15 years show that much of our produce is relatively low in phytonutrients, which are the compounds with the potential to reduce the risk of four of our modern scourges: cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia. The loss of these beneficial nutrients did not begin 50 or 100 years ago, as many assume. Unwittingly, we have been stripping phytonutrients from our diet since we stopped foraging for wild plants some 10,000 years ago and became farmers. [New York Times]
This is the same reason new gardeners often see generous harvests in their first few years, followed by diminishing results. The natural ecosystem is based on wild and diverse plant life, which creates more balanced and healthy soil. Agriculture, by nature, is designed to reap the maximum yield of crops, a process that has been honed and perfected over the centuries. It’s quantity at the expense of quality, in other words…
[continues at The Week]