“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.” -Mahatma Gandhi
At Hendrikus Organics, we are committed to bettering the planet. Part of our mission includes educating people about the important connection between soil and our health. We have long believed that without healthy soil, there can be no human health.
The most obvious connection is soil’s link to plants, our forests, grasses, jungles, crops. Soil supports and nourishes all the plants that we – and our chickens, dairy cows and other livestock – eat. The materials we use to build our homes and clothe ourselves would not exist were it not for terra firma.
The earth’s blanket of soil and its substrate below plays the critical role of filtering and purifying the water we drink, our streams, waterways, and the lakes we swim in.
Our forests, grown, supported and nurtured by our soil, filter and clean the air we breathe, exchanging carbon dioxide for oxygen through photosynthesis and remove other pollutants such as ozone, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide. Trees moderate our climate, help cool our cities, remove dust particulates from the air, and help reduce storm runoff.
Soil is the ground we walk on, build on, travel over. It is the ground that feeds us energy, the electro-magnetic energy fed by the sun, that permeates all life through our soil. Soil connects to our lifestyle, in our interactions and enjoyment of nature, large or small.
Soil connects to our health, playing a role in medicine – bacteria in the ground that produces medications like streptomycin, a widely prescribed antibiotic; and cyclosporine, an immunosuppressant used to prevent transplant patients from rejecting new organs.
With the new gene sequencing technology and the study of “microbiomes” both earth and human, scientists are catching up to importance of the connections of the microbial communities in our soil and our bodies to our health.
The earth is alive. Ninety percent of all organisms on the seven continents live underground. Healthy soil is rich in bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, mites, microarthropods – there can be anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 species in less than a teaspoon of dirt. In that same teaspoon, there are more microbes than there are people on the earth. In a handful of healthy soil, there is more biodiversity in just the bacterial community than you will find in all the animals of the Amazon basin. But finding a handful of healthy living soil is getting harder to do.
Thanks to commercial agriculture’s overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, along with a failure to add sufficient organic matter to the earth, the microbes that thrive in healthy soil have been rendered inactive or eliminated altogether. Thus soil has become unable to do what it has done for hundreds of millions of years, cycle nutrients and water for plants and animals and humans alike, as well as regulate the climate. Half the earth’s habitable lands are farmed and we are losing soil and organic matter at an alarming rate due to poor land management. Studies show global soil depletion, stagnation in crop yields and lower nutritional value in the food the planet does yield.
The development of sustainable agriculture is more than just a nice idea. Understanding the connection of soil to health amplifies how important restoring and revitalizing our soil is to our existence.