Eating Soil: Holy, Nourishing or Just Plain Dirty?
Posted on August 15, 2010
Is there such a thing as soil-borne wellness? Researchers are discovering an even bigger yield from fruits and vegetables than previously expected, although the concept of eating soil is an ancient Chinese tradition.
The Tomb Sweeping Festival (also known as the Qingming festival) dates back more than 2500 years and is always held on the 104th day after the winter solstice, which usually occurs around April 5th.
This marks a time when people visit the graves of their forefathers, pray at a shrine for the Buddhist King of Remedies and eat the soil surrounding the holy temple. The festival is an outgrowth of Hanshi Day, which translates literally into day with cold fold only.
“The weirdest thing was that it wasn’t just one person who ate of the soil. Old people, children, middle-aged people, even pregnant women ate it…They all claimed that it had miraculous effects! The soil could cure sickness… From what I’ve heard, this is a tradition that’s been kept going for generations by the locals,” commented one observer named Tianya.
If you can get beyond an immediate revulsion, think about it for just a minute. It does make sense that the soil in which things grow would be as rich a repository of microbes and organisms as the vegetables that find nourishment within.
The connection between bacteria and human health is not yet fully understood, but scientists believe that it may be possible that ingesting components of the soil might be just as healthy (if not more so) than eating the vegetables that grow in it.
In 2007, an English neuroscientist named Christopher Lowry working at Bristol University in England discovered that certain strains of soil-borne bacteria that boosted the serotonin levels in mice also sharply stimulated the human immune system.
From this study came the “hygiene hypothesis,” which further suggests that lack of exposure to these particular bacteria very early in life due to the need to “sanitize our environment” may be connected to the increase in inflammatory, allergic and immune disorders that are so prevalent in the industrialized world.
Will dirt tastings soon become as prevalent as wine tastings?
Will hosts of these sessions serve soiled napkins to get testers in the mood?
Who can say but maybe….they are on to something?
What do YOU think about this?