Thursday, April 15, 2010

I'll be watching Dirt: The Movie

This post is a cross-posting from my dianadyer blog (my first time to do so) to make sure that all my blog readers have an opportunity to watch the upcoming documentary next week, as important to all cancer survivors as it is to the rest of the television watching audience.


If you haven't picked up on this yet, my blog has a pretty wide range of topics, all related to my far-reaching range of interests. I am putting the date and time on my calendar for watching the following show: Dirt: The Movie, airing next week on PBS TV channels. I honestly cannot remember the last time I did that for something on TV (oops yes I can - I do love to watch the Wimbledon tennis women's finals so I always make sure I know when that is being broadcast), so I highly recommend that you do the same.

Here is the link to the movie info. You will also see a link on that page to find the day/time of showing according to where you live.

The movie is about how we care for (or don't) our soil, the very foundation of our food production and thus life and health on this planet. The word 'dirt' is just a catchier word. In fact, I have heard that the author of the book Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations took flak from his professional colleagues (other geologists and soil scientists) for the title of his book, but that is what big publishing houses do to try to catch the public's attention in order to increase sales (most authors lose control over such details as the title and the cover image when their book is published by one of the main book publishing companies, just one reason I have turned down offers from two big publishing companies to take over publishing my book).

Two images I have kept in mind after reading Dirt are the following:

Modern agricultural practices are "soil mining", 
meaning we are rapidly outstripping the Earth's natural rate of 
restoring topsoil.

The world loses 83 billion tons of soil each year.

I actually feel that reading Dirt a few years ago was nearly as life-changing, i.e., expanding for my view of the world, as when I read Diet for a Small Planet in the early 1970's. Both books permanently shaped my opinions as a nutrition professional by understanding that our choices of food to eat have social consequences to economic consequences. I find it terribly disheartening that I learned none of this during my professional nutrition education. The next book on the top of my "to read pile" (very large) is The Soil and Health: A Study of Organic Agriculture by Sir Albert Howard, originally published in 1947, re-published in 2006 with a new introduction by the farmer-poet-activist Wendell Berry. I am only musing at this point, but when reading it, I will pondering if this book should be the first book read by all nutrition professionals in training.

This movie is being shown in celebration of next week's 40th anniversary of Earth Day, but make no mistake, if we don't change our agriculture systems to focus on practices that preserve and rebuild the health of our soils around the world, it is not the earth that will be the loser, but humanity itself (i.e., no soil, no food). I would hope that the movie makes this point clearly.

Ending with another of my favorite quotations about the soil, here is one that is especially apropos:

The farther we get away from the land, the greater our insecurity.
  ~~ Henry Ford

Cultivating health (by caring for our soils) through a garden's nourishment of both body and soul
Diana Dyer, MS, RD 


Anonymous said...

I love the idea to build my own garden, but I do not have a clue how to do it, could you give me some ideas, places where we can get more information about the kind of plants, vegetables, fruits that we can plant here in Long Island NY.

Thank you,

Diana Dyer said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. The fastest way to get started is to go to your local farmers' market to purchase some baby plants for vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, kale, peppers and plant these in pots. No digging even required to get started. In addition, in your area ask at your local botanical garden or commercial garden center for recommendations from Master Gardeners. Many local garden centers have classes. Books abound. One I have enjoyed is the All New Square Foot Gardening: Growing More in Less Space by Mel Bartholomew. One hint: compost, compost, compost. Good luck, have fun, and happy eating!