Dirt-it ain't pretty anymore

bubknzklee Posts: 15 ✭✭✭

Someone asked me a question yesterday, and it got me thinking. I live in the Midwest where every field is full of the corn/soybean rotation (This year is soybeans). Not far from me is an area called "the muck" where they grow vegetables like cabbage and peppers. Well. this past spring my husband and I were driving thru the muck and we noticed this beautiful black field. It was black and lush, the kind of soil you want to run your fingers thru. Then we got closer to our house and I couldn't help but notice just how ugly that dirt was (it wasn't even soil). It was hard, and dry, and pale, and brown, and ugly. Now I know people would argue that its not for food since 90% of our corn is feedlot corn. But still if you think about it, that is still food. That ugly ground is going to grow ugly corn, and be fed to animals that are going to produce what? A pretty side of beef. (Yes, I know it will be ugly just because cows aren't supposed to eat corn, but stay with me here. Lets think happy thoughts and say all that corn is going to pigs and chickens). The end result is still the same, you cannot get a beautiful, healthy, nutrient dense piece of meat if you raise its feed in ugly dirt.


  • greyfurball
    greyfurball Posts: 591 ✭✭✭✭

    @bubknzklee, yes you have just realized the downside of our current food system in this country.

    I love hearing people always say they don't need organics because they always wash their produce. But what about all the beef, chicken, pork, eggs, seafood, peanut butter, jelly, boxed and frozen foods they eat. This can go on forever.

    Food processing in this country is slanted towards the convenience and monetary demands of the vendor, not the health of the consumer. As a consumer, research and diligence is our responsibility because there are very few people demanding our health should be the #1 priority.

    Sad, but the public's demand for "Quick, Fast and Easy" has been the undoing of our health. Now it's up to us to be the safety factor in ourselves and our family's life.

  • wbt.affiliates
    wbt.affiliates Posts: 100 ✭✭✭

    It's all over. We moved into this trailer park seven years ago. It was all we could afford, but the home would be paid off in six years, and we wanted to retire without a house payment. So we bought it.

    We bought it because in this park you can have gardens.

    However, those with lush gardens imported their dirt, because the ground is poor, as we discovered with our first garden. I have worked six years to get this soil up to my standard.

    The reason I garden is to put quality vegetables on my plate, which I can now.

    But I can't think of any farmer around me, except for the few that bring their produce to the Farmer's Market, who will go to as much work in my tiny garden to bring in a quality crop.

    A friend of mine from Africa, whose family always gardened, said that she never felt like she had eaten well after a meal, not once since she had arrived here.

    The "best-fed" country on the planet, so full of nice, round people, is filled with anorexics, nutritionally speaking.

  • jjocean
    jjocean Posts: 31 ✭✭✭

    Turns out I accept that I can't change the big agri business picture but I can change the picture in my yard. Maybe a neighbor will figure it out. If I care and I share a few people will get it. That has to be enough or I lose the joy I so dearly hold.

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,353 admin

    My first "farm" property.... after having grown up on my grandparents' farm was quite a shock. My grandfather was a big fan of Thomas Jefferson and the systems he created to produce all the food the family needed and extra to sell, without bringing inputs from the outside, was very close to what we call Permaculture today. If you have read John Seymour's books on traditional self sufficient farming, you will get the idea. Livestock feed was grown (or pastured) on site. Manure fertilized the vegetables. Fruit trees, berry bushes, small ponds, etc, etc. It wasn't much different than my ancestors' farms had been for around 400 years in the American South. The soil was rich and black - it would grow anything. The trees provided shade and he had positioned his buildings and trees like willows to create cooling breezes. Thousands of guineas were the burglar alarm, filing the trees with their cacophony if anything changed.... swallowtail butterflies swarmed the pears, all kinds of birds flocked in and we even had a pet gator in the smallest pond in the back yard! It was paradise. It was not converted to a modern ag desert until after my grandfather died and the land was rented for corn and soybeans.

    So, when I was a teen and my mom bought 5 acres just a few miles from the old farm, I was thrilled. Little did I know how different land that had been used for mono-cropping could be! It had been used for cotton and soy beans... large drainage ditches to drain all rain, mechanical irrigation, heavy chemical fertilizer, herbicide and pesticides.... it was hydrophobic, hard pan... would not even grow grass! Everything I planted died, no matter what. Only "weeds" like sheep sorrel could survive the hot, dry, baking of the summers. The soil reeked of the sludge that they had dumped on it annually. It was the opposite of the farm I had grown up on. Had I known then what I know now, I could have remediated it, but that would have taken years. Eventually, I gave up and it really discouraged me from gardening for a decade or so. Fortunately, I eventually discovered Permaculture and various organic gardening books - great stuff like Fukuoka and Joel Salatin - and realized that I did not have a black thumb. I had dirt on that property... poisoned, salted, dead, dirt... not soil!

  • ines871
    ines871 Posts: 1,283 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2019

    re "dirt it ain't pretty" - No argument there. dirt=America poisoned, sterile & dead, dirt... is NOT soil.

    OK, let's get 1 thing straight: SOIL is when any plant & fruits thereof, such as

    this (of our) 20 inch cucumbers easily grow in 2 to 4 inches of soil with live-enriching Nutrition ably sustaining all who enjoy eating it. THIS is 'soil'.

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,353 admin

    Anyone else have the old Merle Haggard song, "Things Ain't Funny Anymore" stuck in their heads now?