The ground beneath our feet is as important to human health as clean air and pure water. The soil is where nearly all the food people consume comes from, making healthy soil the foundation of a healthy life.
24/7 Tempo reviewed information from the United States Department of Agriculture, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and other online sources to identify ways soil affects food quality and people’s health.
Healthy soil is a complex living ecosystem with many layers, each playing an important role in growing crops that nourish people and animals. It’s packed with tiny and large organisms that interact to convert minerals to plant nutrients and to improve soil structure, improving crop production in the long run. When that system is interrupted, reliable food production is jeopardized, and both food quality and quantity suffer.
Soil is important to human health, not just because it’s where food comes from. It also plays a role in medicine. The soil contains many microorganisms used to produce medications that have saved countless lives, such as antibiotics.
Just like soil can help cure illnesses, it can cause diseases. Heavy metals found in the ground, which make their way to foods and water, are not only unhealthy on their own accord, but also can harbor harmful bacteria.
People have been growing food for thousands of years, transforming the planet and disturbing nature’s nutrient cycle in the process in more ways than one.