Smells Like Dirt
"You can pick it up, and it smells like dirt," is a quote I heard a few weeks ago while listening to All Thing Considered on NPR. At first, it made me laugh a little; I love the smell of dirt! But then I thought about it and couldn't remember the last time I smelled good dirt. That made me kind of sad. I live in the city, I have an apartment and don't get the chance to get my hands dirty very often. Turns out, even if I did get my hands dirty more often the smell of good dirt is harder to come by these days.
In the interview, A Grass-Roots Movement For Healthy Soil Spreads Among Farmers, Nebraskan farmer Del Ficke proposes healthy, delicious smelling soil is the dirt equivalent of an endangered species. Humans have been tilling and turning soil for agricultural purposes for a long time, but many of these farming practices tend to deplete our soils. Even the government recognized the problem as early as 1935 when it created the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Thankfully today no-till farming is an accepted practice that most producers agree can benefit their production. There is still a wide range of implementation and understanding of the benefits, but the foundation and knowledge about healthy soil is not a fringe concept.
It is possible that in the not too distant future, we may see labels alongside USDA Organic that include 'regenerative farming practices' or 'certified soil safe ' etc. Until then we recommend you buy as much as possible from your local farmers who are either organically certified or go out of their way to show you how their practices are taking care of our resources. The nice thing about local farms is you can visit them and see for yourself how they are treating the soil. These are the unsung heroes already protecting our endangered dirt. The following quote from the Atlantic article "Healthy Soil Microbes, Healthy People" in 2013 sums up how we feel here at OlyKraut pretty well.
"The single greatest leverage point for a sustainable and healthy future for the seven billion people on the planet is arguably immediately underfoot: the living soil, where we grow our food."