THE DAY I LEARNED THAT SOIL WASN'T DIRTY
| Bethany Davis |
When I was a kid, I was something of a germaphobe, a condition that manifested itself in all kinds of strange behaviors that included my belief that dirt contained germs and eating with dirty hands would likely kill me. Maybe it wasn’t so strange when you consider how much my teachers, and society in general, drums that idea into us!
Anyway, one day I had been blissfully playing outside with my neighbor and best friend, Willie, when I decided to go in for a snack, despite having gotten dirty playing in the yard. When my mom handed me a banana, I became horrified and said, “I can’t eat with my hands dirty like this or I’ll die!”
My mother’s response was, first, to assure me dirt doesn’t make us sick or kill us and, second, to take me back outside where she got out the shovel and together we started digging and looking at everything that lives in the soil: bugs, earthworms, all the plants and trees that grew out of it. It was a remarkable revelation for me.
I had learned that soil wasn’t dirty. It was a glorious day.
Flash forward to last summer. As MegaFood’s Director of Industry and Regulatory Affairs, I was given the opportunity to visit several farms, farmers and agricultural leaders in true, road-trip fashion. It was life-changing for me to learn from them and gain inspiration from their stories.
So, can you guess what it is that farmers care about more than anything else?
Dirt! Or rather, soil. Any farmer worth his salt can grab a handful of soil and tell you if it's healthy or not, if it will produce and what it needs. Soil is how we grow the majority of our food and the health of the soil directly affects the health and the nutritional value of our food. The bad news is that chemical agriculture — spraying with chemicals like Glyphosate that are broad spectrum antibiotics — compromises the integrity of the soil’s microbiome, while our current industrial model of agriculture is killing and stripping our soil of its nutrients. Globally, we have done so much damage tilling and spraying our soil that the United Nations has declared we may have only 60 “harvests” left worldwide before we won’t be able to support food production anymore.
Heavy tilling not only harms the soil, it also releases carbon into the air, warming up the atmosphere.
So, what are we doing about it? MegaFood is a founding member of the Carbon Farming Network, a Green America working group committed to removing carbon from the atmosphere to stop global warming by using regenerative agricultural techniques to draw carbon into the soil where it belongs, restoring life and nutrition to the soil and the food we grow. Something else we feel very strongly about is supporting those farmers that care as much as we do. That is why we have built Farm Fresh Partnerships with carefully selected farms from across to the United States to get over 500,000 pounds of fresh whole foods (fruits, vegetables, grains, and herbs) delivered to our facilities each year!
As we at MegaFood continue to engage farmers to learn more and more about soil and our food system, we aim to collect our learnings and share them with you. I hope my personal soil awareness journey can inform yours, so we can create change together. How can you help? Vote with your dollars! Look for seals indicating a product is tested for herbicides and pesticides, or better yet, certified Glyphosate Residue Free! And if you meet a farmer who is doing it right, be sure to thank them!