Why do we treat soil and people like dirt?

Three quick thoughts:

  1. We often treat our soil like dirt.
  2. We treat our real food farmers like dirt.
  3. We regularly treat ourselves and some communities like dirt.

We often treat soil like dirt: Soil is a mix of minerals, water, air, organic matter, and the decaying remains of once-living things. It is also home to bacteria, earthworms, and other microscopic living things that convert all the decaying stuff into food for what will grow in and above it. Soil is a home to our livelihood. Soil makes much of our real, good food possible.

What’s really terrible is that sometimes we actively convert soil into dirt. We poison it. We make it inhospitable to the bacteria, earthworms, and other microscopic living things that are absolutely necessary for it to continue being soil and for it to continue growing healthy things — like real, good food — out of it.

We treat our real food farmers like dirt: What does it say about us when we don’t value those who want to tend soil and food as stewards and provide us with real, good food?

Why are so many farmers and farm workers poor? Why are some farmers and farm workers (and their families) forced to skip meals! Why do small farmers have to take second jobs!? They are feeding us. Something is wrong when we don’t value the time and care a farmer of real and whole foods puts in to provide healthy food in our bellies while taking care of the soil that grows it.

We regularly treat ourselves and some communities like dirt: I recognize that some people and some communities don’t have a choice. Too many communities of color and low-income neighborhoods may not have stores with affordable healthy food options. I guess I’d ask, then, why don’t we value those communities enough to make sure we all have affordable, available, and healthy food choices? That’s a question which requires a systemic answer about power and privilege that I hope to tackle in future posts.

But it needs to be said, for those of us with a choice, when we regularly prioritize the cheap food options, we cheapen our bodies and undervalue our health. It’s no wonder modern diseases and ailments like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and problems with cholesterol have become rampant. Many of us don’t value what we eat or how it comes to us.

Let’s stop treating soil, real food farmers (and farm workers), some communities, and ourselves like dirt.