Video: Michael Pollan, “From the Soil”

By WorldLink Staff | April 19, 2011 | Leave a Comment

Each week, we’ll be introducing a new film from the Nourish short film collection. In celebration of Earth Week, author Michael Pollan describes how the simple act of eating offers us an intimate connection with the soil. Let us know how you’re celebrating Earth Day on Facebook.

The Dirt on Soil

Fertile soil is essential to food production. Soil consists of minerals, water, air, and living and dead organic matter, which are all needed to support healthy plants. Through natural processes, it can take hundreds to thousands of years to form one inch of nutrient-rich, organic topsoil.

It is estimated that a cup of fertile topsoil contains more than 6 billion organisms, equivalent to the number of people on Earth. Five to 10 tons of animal life inhabit an acre of soil, including bacteria, fungi, protozoa, earthworms, mice, moles, and other creatures.

Soil depletion, or loss of fertility, occurs when nutrients are taken from the soil but not replaced. Over-tilling, monocrop farming, and use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides deplete the soil, leading to a loss of organic matter and soil structure. According to the United Nations, we lose about 75 tons of soil each year. Loss of soil means less food.

Feeding the Soil

You can nourish the earth through your everyday food choices and practices. By supporting organic and sustainable farming, you encourage agricultural methods that protect the soil. Sustainable techniques, such as rotating crops and fertilizing with compost and manure, restore nutrients to the earth, preserving this precious resource for years to come.

Gardening offers a first-hand experience of the soil. Instead of sending your food scraps to the landfill, feed your plants by starting a compost pile or a worm bin. If you don’t have space for a compost pile, see if your city has a composting program and get a green bin. Check out Grow Your Own for more ideas and resources.

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