It is sometimes said that you have to “eat a peck of dirt before you die”, and, because of my childhood vitamin and mineral deficiencies I’m probably well on my way out!
I think it all began with one innocent pinch of cigarette ashes…BAM…I was hooked on that ashy taste. However, it grew out of a lust for some mineral or vitamin, probably iron, that I was not getting in my normal diet. So, I experimented around the yard and everywhere I visited for a year or two around the turn of the 50’s decade.
Once while visiting us in
He, like a lot of parents and people who study bacteria today, was not overly concerned about me eating dirt. A case in point is this video clip of Dr. Bonnie Bassler, a professor at
My Uncle Earl stood proudly by and watched me taste the rich black dirt. My mom, of course, was not quite as open minded and would always make me put it down and immediately wash my hands and try to wash my mouth out.
The basic truth is bacteria teach the body the specifics of creating the right kind of antibodies that protect our bodies throughout our lives. Think about it, with bacteria, not just crawling all over everything, but covering everything, we stay amazingly well.
Oh sure, we get the occasional cold, but without an immune system that has been educated by bacteria we probably wouldn’t have survived the first year of life. Just look at me…I survived all this time after eating cigarette ashes and dirt!
I can still remember the lime taste of the earth around
My mom took my little skinny body to the doctor and asked him how she could get me to eat more “real” food and stop eating dirt. His solution, which worked, was to give me a big brown bottle of some vitamin elixir containing a lot of iron.
I was soon eating more and growing toward the mass I am today, and never picked up another clod of dirt to eat again. Although, like I said, I remember its taste, with all its variety of tastes today.
I think about this every time I see my granddaughter Lily crawl under the table at a restaurant. We try to keep her hands clean and out of her mouth, but it’s inevitable that she will get some dirt into her mouth. I remind myself that her body is learning to produce the antibodies that will keep her alive and well for a long time.
I wish someone had told Howard Hughes this, and I hope Howie Mandel reads my blog! Dirt is actually good for us guys! However, you must remember that garden dirt is cleaner than yard dirt!