Your food’s dirty little secret

(© AP Images)

Soil is the foundation for life on Earth, but more often than not it gets treated like dirt.

Ninety-five percent of our food comes from soil, and most of that food comes from family farms, which — according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization — are key to alleviating hunger and poverty.

But family farms are increasingly facing the consequences of soil loss and degradation. Desertification, deforestation and poor agricultural practices are putting the soil farms depend on — and the food they supply — at risk.

Most people take soil for granted because it has always been there. To raise awareness of the importance of soil, and how we can preserve and restore it, the U.N. designated December 5 World Soil Day.

You don’t have to be a farmer to help protect the world’s soil. Read on to find out what you can do.


Here are some things you can do to promote soil health and productivity:

  • Plant a tree. Trees slow soil erosion and retain moisture and nutrients in the soil.
  • Don’t use pesticides in your garden or on your farm. Use other forms of pest control that are soil-friendly.
  • Compost at home by collecting organic material from your kitchen and garden and placing it in a pile or container. After a few months, you can add it to your soil or donate it to a local farm.
  • Celebrate World Soil Day at an event near you or plan your own.