In Praise of Dirt

“You’ll eat a bushel full of dirt by the time you die.” My grandpa told me that once when I was little. I supposed it’s a reminder that a little bit of soil won’t harm you, and in fact might be healthy.

I just cleaned loads of dirt out of my sink. Peeled carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, onions, leeks leave behind a LOT of dirt and sand. Then it occurred to me that this could be considered an anomaly in today’s modern world.

The majority of people buy their food at mega supermarkets, where fruits and vegetables are often picked prematurely, shipped from far away and sold in sterile packages. I’ve heard a lot of people say that they ‘don’t like’ fruit and vegetables because they don’t taste like anything. No wonder!

Of course there are a lot of people who have vegetable gardens, shop at farmers markets or belong to a co-op, but we live in a pretty dense city and growing much more than herbs on the balcony isn’t really realistic.

What really made me appreciate the dirt in the sink was that I did buy my vegetables at the supermarket. There’s a small supermarket near our house that’s a local chain, there are about 4 locations in Barcelona. I feel really fortunate that we live in a place where you can conveniently buy fresh, seasonal produce that’s still got a connection to the Earth, that you know this plant came from the ground and not from a plastic crate.

So, love the dirt and appreciate what it means, but don’t forget to wash it out. No one likes gritty soup.