“Doctor Dirt” and World Soil Day

World Soil Day is coming up on December 5!  Here, WiseTribe advisor Kimberly Marrone explains how the health of our soil is linked to the health of our society:


As an Acupuncture Physician & Functional Medicine Practitioner I am very concerned with the health of the population around me. Most of the patients in our practice are suffering from co-morbities that have some direct correlation to nutrient deficiencies or “mal-nutrition.” All of the organs, tissues, systems and substances inner bodies require very specific minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients to properly function. That means that unless the body gets what it needs in these substances day in and day out, the body will not be able to repair, restore or rejuvenate from the everyday wear and tear of normal life, not to mention be able to defend itself against infection, viruses and trauma that come its way.

There is mounting evidence the rise in many diseases and disorders are linked to poor nutritional status. These include musculoskeletal injuries, chronic disabilities, autoimmune diseases, allergies, cancers, and neural degeneration. Poor food choices (all calories are not equal), impaired digestion, and food that does not deliver adequate nutrients are among the many reasons that contribute to this early bodily breakdown. Although we can correlate “The Standard American Diet” with our ever growing chronic disease problem, we must not overlook the fact that our food simply does not have the nutrient density that our physiology requires to run optimally.

Why is this?

The main culprit in this disturbing nutritional trend is soil depletion: Modern intensive agricultural methods have stripped increasing amounts of nutrients from the soil in which the food we eat grows. Sadly, each successive generation of fast-growing, pest-resistant carrot is truly less good for you than the one before.

A landmark study on the topic by Donald Davis and his team of researchers from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry was published in December 2004 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. They studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century. Davis and his colleagues chalk up this declining nutritional content to the preponderance of agricultural practices designed to improve traits (size, growth rate, pest resistance) other than nutrition.

Unfortunately, our health has been paying the price for these practices. We are more unhealthy as a population, with chronic disease affecting 1 in 3 adults in America. Our children are the first generation to have estimated decrease in lifespan.

The key to healthier produce and a healthier population is healthier soil.

One of Mother Nature’s most prolific inventions is one we so often take for granted. Dirt is truly the overlooked blessing which leads to so much in terms of nourishing people, their families and our communities. Alternating fields between growing seasons to give land time to restore would be one important step. Also, foregoing pesticides and fertilizers in favor of organic growing methods is good for the soil, the produce and its consumers. Those who want to get the most nutritious fruits and vegetables should buy regularly from local organic farmers.

One of the most important things in my life is making a difference in the world around me. I believe that each one of us has a contribution that can make our world and community better, healthier, happier and wiser. I have always tried to align myself with groups, individuals and organizations that have those same core values.

I am happy to report that there is an abundance of people, organizations and groups who are working diligently to make this world better. One of the organizations that I have been a part of the last 2 years is Wise Tribe.

Wise Tribe is the brainchild of Jacqueline Botting. While working for the Trade and Technology Board in Ireland, Jacqueline witnessed firsthand breathtaking technological changes, and realized how those changes are influencing the way we live and work. All around her, Jacqueline saw people who were searching, as she was, for lives of greater significance.

Jacqueline believes we will find productive new avenues for fulfillment by building meaningful social bonds, helping others, and working together to make world-changing contributions (and that doing this by diverse people coming together is the task of our times). That’s why WiseTribe was born.

Jacqueline believes that how we choose to spend our time is now more important than how we choose to spend our money. We desperately need opportunities that bring people together in meaningful, fulfilling ways. By sharing stories and personal wisdom, new ideas emerge. Shifts in thinking occur and new possibilities abound. Through WiseTribe, our collective wisdom will build a brighter, more meaningful future for all of us.

One of the projects that Wise tribe has spearheaded is #GetDirtyinDelray. This project is a container garden movement that makes us wiser about healthy eating through locally-based, sustainable backyard farming practices and shared community resources. Teaching our community about the impact of food on their health speaks to me at the deepest level. Composting is another important project that Wise Tribe has spearheaded in order to bring attention to the need to rejuvenate our soil through natural and organic means.

Along with our partners, the Delray Beach Children’s Garden, Carver Middle School, Capital One, Spady Museum and many more we hope to add to this collaboration, and to drive change in the areas of soil quality, access to quality produce, and overall community health through nutrition.

World Soil Day Logo credit: Isabelle Verbeke

You May Also Like