A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle points out the close connection between soil health and human health. The author, physician Rupa Marya, discusses the microorganisms that live in our guts and perform functions critical to our brain development, immune systems and nutrient absorption. Greater diversity of microorganisms in our guts leads to greater resistance against inflammation and the ravages of many illnesses, particularly some that are becoming increasingly common today, such as Alzheimers and autism. One key source of microorganisms is soil. But soil drenched in pesticides and herbicides loses its diversity of microorganisms – no surprise!
Marya states that the use of toxic chemicals on farm crops exposes thousands of farmworkers and their children and communities to high risks of acute poisoning and long-term consequences such as developmental disabilities and cancer.
“We need to reverse the damage. Recovering from these petrochemical dependencies would simultaneously improve human health, ecosystems and resilience in the face of climate change. Through a relatively short-term investment in abandoning practices that harm us, we can make significant long-term gains.”
We are on the same page! Improving human and planetary health is one of our main goals at Nature Towns, where we believe that all people should have access to nutritious foods grown in healthy soil.
Marya draws a comparison to California’s ban on smoking in public places: the benefits grow over time. “Not only are fewer people dying, but the low cost of implementation is more than offset by a corresponding drop in health care expenditures. A 10% national decrease in smoking is predicted to result in a $63 billion reduction in health care costs the following year.”
Marya recommends: “Let’s give farmers the technical and financial assistance they need to make the transition to farming practices that prioritize soil health. By eliminating synthetic pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides while encouraging practices that revitalize our soils, we can improve soil health, human health and the planet’s health.”
If you’re reading this, you are probably already aware that our health and quality of life are linked to ecosystem health. But it’s nice to see a physician validating the connections among declining soil health and human health, and the spiraling costs of healthcare. We are building Nature Towns communities to reverse these frightening trends and provide healthy places for all people, where we can improve our well-being just by living.