Healthy farm soil as key to healthy bodies

Sources: Yes Magazine

Perhaps it’s not food that’s medicine, as Hippocrates suggested, but the soil the food is grown in that’s medicine.

At least that’s the idea behind soil scientists’ investigation into healthy farm soil as a key to healthy bodies. In this essay Dr. Daphne Miller summarizes some of the research investigating the health benefits of certain types of soil.

Studies suggest that ecological farming produces “a greater microbial biomass” than conventional farming, and it also involves more systems that share “holistic tenets” (including protecting topsoil, conserving water, limiting the use of chemicals, and recycling animal and vegetable race back to the land) that benefit both the land and the people who live on it.

In other areas of research, European immunologists and allergists are exploring why children raised on ecological farms experience fewer allergies than other children raised on industrial farms.

Part of these health benefits come from a process known as “genetic swaps” between the human microbiome and the outside world, such as where we grow our food.

In her own practice, Miller now informs patients that produce grown in “well-treated soil” may offer a distinct advantage in terms of nutrients and immune support when compared to more conventional produce. Certification processes make it difficult to identify exactly how foods have been raised, however, with some organic farms not qualifying as ‘ecological” and other farms, while not technically labeled “organic” are producing food in an ecological manner.

One easy test is to ask about the places our food comes from is: “does the farmer live on the farm?” If so, it’s likely that the farmer cares for his or her soil “as if it were another family member.” CSAs and farmers markets may be other ways to find this nutrient-rich produce, and to be able to ask questions of the farmers who produce it. Home growing produce is another option.

In conclusion, Miller encourages people to think of “a healthy body as an extension of a healthy farm.”