- A simple definition of soil.
This concept allows us to sow and grow a plant and understand:
- What food is.
- What soil is and how it grows plant foods is a simple but powerful foundation from which one can generate:
- The mandate for everyone to farm.
- The mandate to feed everyone food.
- The mandate to decentralize.
Soil is rich in life. It is maintained using biological organic material that is returned to it by its maintainers. In a mature biological system, plant and animal bodies and rock would litter the ground and act as a food source for a web of soil life.
(Understanding the soil life web concerns Dr. Elaine Ingham, Jeff Lowenfels and Robert Cannard. Their reference material is available on YouTube and beyond.)
Soil is alive, and in that way, it differs from dirt, which has no life in it. In fact, soil has billions of organisms per teaspoon, from the bacterial and viral to worms and insects.
This life web is created by adding organic material to dirt along with inorganic material or rock or rock dusts. The soil life, or its digestive system, springs to life from compost and teas that one can add to bring the dirt to life. The organic material can be simply plants grown in place that are allowed to return to the Earth after they have enjoyed the full completeness of their life. After this cycle has been repeated many times, soil begins to have a healthy digestive system with its ready access to abundant mineral rock, air, water and light.
This soil is the living skin of our Earth, our Gaia, if you will.
The soil’s digestion is home to fungi, bacteria, nematoads, insects, worms and many other life forms.
Soil building is the key because with healthy soil growing, healthy plants is reasonably easy.
Plants grow by drawing water up from their main roots through their bodies and transpiring, or sweating, it out of their leaves. Photosynthesis in the leaves creates simple sugars that the plant uses a fraction of to grow and send another fraction back down to its roots—not the main roots, but to the hair roots. These sugars are exuded by the plants’ hair roots with messages to the soil flora that the plant would like a certain nutrient or set of nutrients. The soil flora set about obtaining those nutrients in exchange for more sugars. This sets up a mining and exchange system in which the plants use sugars to drive the behaviors of the soil fauna, which use the products of the sugar metabolism (acids) to dissolve rocks and obtain the available minerals.
These minerals are surrendered to the plant when the soil fauna dies and are swept up by the vacuuming action of the plant drinking. In this way, the plant can be seen as a carnivore, eating the protoplasmic soup of dead soil fauna, which it offered sugars to earlier. This transport is sometimes against osmotic pressure in order to stockpile them for future use. The influence of the plant on the local area is immense as the fungi area can be many miles in extent, covering resources and using exchanges of all the mineral sources in the area as well as the plants in the area that exude different sugars to mine (possibly) foods that are not directly available to a given plant but only available in such a vibrant community.
Quoting Bob Cannard: “Carrots concentrate gold in their bodies, and it is not understood why this happens; it does not happen for other plants on the whole, just for carrots. But if one plants seed of whatever plant and does not supply everything that the plant could possibly want, gold and silver and everything in between, one cannot be sure that the plant’s needs are being met. When a plant’s needs are fully met, its immune system is able to defend it, and pests are not a problem, and the resulting fruit has an etheric sweetness and vitality that provides us with the same capability to generate our own best potential.”
This plant has all of its needs met that we are able to understand and many more that we do not understand at all but that we have allowed for by supplying absolutely everything we can.
This total process is a conscious one. Plants have been seen as being alive, but with this simple but correct understanding, they are acknowledged as conscious beings.
If the soil is disturbed by tilling, etc., air is introduced and the flora and fauna are oxidized, and they die. The fragile fungi networks are broken—certainly they can regrow, but there are costs. From this, one can reflect on the lifestyle that would result from pedantically treating Gaia’s skin as being sacred, to be maintained and never pierced.
The society that would grow up is one without metals, petroleum, fossil fuels, etc. Solar, wind and renewable energies sources would be the norm.
These considerations can be thought about, if you like, and they are interesting. Their proposal is contained here, but their discussion is not. The way the Earth has been used is also the product of the culture, which is one of domination, not one of long-term consideration, compassion and planning.
At this point, we have defined what soil is. The soil’s digestion, with access to abundant rock, water, air and light, will grow healthy plants at the lowest cost to the farmer and society. This low cost is achieved by having everyone be the healthiest they can be and being able to fully contribute in the community.
This food is the least quality level that is acceptable for humans. It is possible to envision better soil with dedication of farmers and society to this way of life.
Since we require a society that is doing its best, it is not possible to condone having anyone be allowed to consume a lesser-quality food item. Food is basic to human dignity, and every human has the right to dignity.
If someone did not have enough food today, he or she would not be able to be at his or her best. We would be consciously saying, “So and so does not have to be at their best; therefore, society does not have to be at its best, and, as a result, I do not have to be at my best.”
With this simple understanding, it is no longer acceptable for the food industry to continue to perform in the economically more expensive and soil-destructive manner that it presently does. It is only acceptable for it to change and for basic food to be freely available to everyone to make the whole community the best it can be.
To do anything else breaks our agreement to be at our best.
Explicitly, it is obvious that the liabilities in growing substandard food for market will destroy the current agricultural model. Since you see its days as being numbered, you understand whose responsibility your food growing becomes. Yes, look in the mirror and greet the farmer newly born.
Historically, what are the reasons behind the poisonous practices of industrial farming?
If soil is not constantly renewed, it will stop producing prodigious health-giving food after a number of years. In that case, what farmers have done for many a day is to either abandon the land for more fertile ground or switch crops to one that does not need as fertile ground. After many cycles, the Earth is depleted and the original crop types are not even attempted anymore, only the crops that do well in soils that are barely alive are grown. At that point, it is tempting to rebuild the soil by growing a goodly fraction of the plants for the expressed purpose of soil regeneration. But if this information about the nature of soil and the true long-term costs is hidden, then greedy dominating parties can sell a philosophy of never-ending poisoning. This is the philosophy of today’s industrial agriculture in which the land crops are grown exclusively for human needs and the needs of the soil, and thus the plants are not considered. As you can see, not to consider the needs of the soil and the plants is to ignore our own needs. And not be our best.
Industrial agriculture tempts farmers with soluble fertilizers in which the nutrition is a salt. This salt dissolves directly in groundwater and is drunk by the plants in an involuntary, nonconscious manner. It is involuntary precisely because the plant must drink. The growth of these salted plants is remarkable. They grow quite quickly, and the size of the fruit is much larger than food. This is because the plant is growing much faster than it should, which is driven by the very few nutrients it does receive as salty nutrition. The bloated plant is sickly due to the salty poison it has been forced to drink. The word “poison” is used here to contrast these growing conditions, in salted dirt, from those present in healthy soil.
The groundwater is poisoned with this salty fertilizer, and this salt is washed away very soon, leaving the plant gasping for nutrition in dirt as the soil is not alive and able to bring the plant what it needs. So more fertilizer is required. More poison.
This sickly plant and crop does not develop its immune system to completeness and is vulnerable to pests. In fact, Gaia tests each plant to assess its fitness. These tests come in the form of insect, animal and plant “pests.” With the correct nutrition, healthy plants have no issues with pests but when raised in poison, the outcome of being challenged is obvious. The sickly plant is eaten by pests.
Many so-called pests are beneficial to plants. Sickly plants are certainly removed, but there are many examples where pests live in concert with the healthy plants and eat old leaves and detritus matter, returning their own rich compost to the base of the plants. Thus, when the plant is healthy, the pest lives as it should as a helper.
The loss of the sickly plant could trigger the farmer to remediate the soil and begin to build it to grow healthy crops, but in industrial agricultural practice, it triggers spraying of crops with pesticides and herbicides. In short, these thrice-poisoned sickly plants are brought to market today and passed off as food fit for humans. It is completely obvious that this is not the case.
So why does it happen? It is because of a lack of information and the presence of debt that farmers see no alternative to the poisoning and to delivering poisoned crops as if they were food. This is not a happy life for farmers, for plants, for soils, for anyone.
If you are reading these words, it is no longer the case that you are ignorant of these basic life facts. Maybe you were not ignorant of them before. It is now the society’s priority to provide only food and not poison called food. It is also not possible to allow food to be shipped many thousands of miles to arrive at your door having lost its freshness. Everything is now local. Your complete food table can no longer be more than a day distant from you.
Agriculture is now squarely in the hands of the small grower. But much more than that, it is the direct responsibility of every individual to grow his or her own calorie staple crop in his or her own yard, windowsill or rooftop. And it is not enough to grow for yourself and to be content. One can be content only when we know that everyone has had enough to eat tonight. That no one has gone to bed hungry. And that everyone has eaten food, locally grown food from the neighborhood yards and growers who everyone knows.
When everyone is together for a meal, it is time to discuss how to make better soils, crops, people, etc. It is time to discuss social models, behavior modes, philosophy, art, etc.
This is the least acceptable standard for society. The lowest setting of the bar. Not one bit of the present standard is acceptable. The present archetype is not the worship and affirmation of life; it is the opposite.
What soil is and, as a result, what food is comprises the purpose of this simple letter. The information in it is very basic, but since society is still structured in an obsolete way, it is a call to action. At this time in history, action cannot be avoided if humans wish to remain on Earth. But even with low population and verdant soils, why would you insist on proceeding along the path of lesser performance if you knew better?
You know better now.
Do not hesitate to become more informed about soil health through the work of Elaine Ingham, Jeff Lowenfels, Robert Cannard and many others. Find your way to the knowledge and wisdom contained in permaculture in the works of Bill Mollison, Geoff Lawton and many others.
And remember, unlike the present social structure, the new social structure is completely local and, as such, local idiosyncrasies will lead to local products that will be unique, not staple crops or basic goods but fine fabric, art, etc. using local renewable resources into which the local region pours its love.
The time of the society of domination is over. The experiment called “Rule from the Center” has ended. Now is the time to prioritize food and water standards as being basic in our lives, to our lives and to our communities.
That our next-door neighbor is getting enough to eat and is eating well cannot be his or her private concern if he or she is not performing well. Bring everyone to the table at mealtime. We need every hand and every perspective.
There are many other insights that can be achieved, now that this basic information is understood.
I sincerely hope you, as a reader of this document, take what it says seriously. I take it very seriously as its implications mean that society needs to change for be something closer to a living model and not a dying model.
Drastic changes are not required. Grow some of your food. Understand what soil is and figure out how to change your dirt to soil. Understand that governments are not interested in a critically thinking local civic structure; they are interested in vast demographics of the mentally handicapped, the malnourished.
In that realization, you see where we head.