One central argument in Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs and Steel is the strongest cultures are almost always the ones that developed a greater immunity due to the proximity of the germs from soil and domestic livestock.
The more robust the immune system, the stronger the worker, the fighter, the thinker, the lover.
This sits well with what’s called the “hygiene hypothesis.”
In a paper published in Foodborne Pathogens and Illness, researchers said: “This hypothesis states that a lack of exposure of children (as well as adults) to dirt, commensal bacteria, and ‘minor’ pathogenic insults results in an immune system that does not function normally. This lack of antibodies to true pathogens in the immune system has resulted in the dramatic increase in allergies and asthma in developed countries over the past twenty years.”
But you already knew this.
Because every grandmother worth her salt encouraged her grandchildren to not only make dirt pies — but eat them, too.
Unfortunately, most kids aren’t listening to Granny anymore.
They’re listening to weird and inappropriate Youtube videos made by creeps…
And they think “strange behavior” constitutes growing beets, owning a chicken or milking a goat.
That’s what the grocery store is for. (Duh.)
This is, of course, a historical anomaly.
“It’s got electrolytes… what plants crave”
You’d be hard-pressed to find another time in history when kids had the luxury of being so ignorant and misinformed about what’s responsible for their survival.
That ignorance comes at an enormous cost.
Because civilization is passed on. And these kids grow up to become (or at least resemble) adults.
Push forward a few generations, Idiocracy becomes a documentary…
Joe: Okay, look. The plants aren’t growing, so I’m pretty sure that the Brawndo’s not working. Now, I’m no botanist, but I do know that if you put water on plants, they grow.
Secretary of Energy: Well, I’ve never seen no plants grow out of no toilet.
Secretary of State: Hey, that’s good. You sure you ain’t the smartest guy in the world?
Joe: Okay, look. You wanna solve this problem. I wanna get my pardon. So why don’t we just try it, okay, and not worry about what plants crave?
Attorney General: Brawndo’s got what plants crave.
Secretary of Energy: Yeah, it’s got electrolytes.
Joe: What are electrolytes? Do you even know?
Secretary of State: It’s what they use to make Brawndo.
Joe: Yeah, but why do they use them to make Brawndo?
Secretary of Defense: ‘Cause Brawndo’s got electrolytes.
We forget why this knowledge is important.
We forget that in the Great Depression, people survived not because of the government’s compassionate bread lines, but because many Americans still grew and preserved their own food.
We forget other hard-learned lessons in history, too.
For example, Ireland’s potato famine, which resulted in at least one million deaths, was due to the same mono-cultured farming practices we depend on today.
We forget that our lives are inextricably linked to the environment around us. We begin to bite the hand that feeds us.
No civilization has ever been in such a sordid state of environmental ignorance.
Worse, no civilization has had such a low opinion of its cornerstones, either.
Farmers, those who feed the country, are, when they are thought of at all, often portrayed as uneducated bumpkins. In the ivory towers, they are seen, at best, as a necessary nuisance until technology can automate them out of existence. (Good luck.)
Cows, a miraculous animal, a TRUE cornerstone of civilization and ecological sustainability, are demonized.
Somehow, through a clever propaganda campaign, the masses became convinced that cow farts were the bane of our existences. Responsible for destroying the world. And now everyone simply assumes it’s true.
It’s common knowledge.
And it’s wholly expected of you to look down your nose (while simultaneously pinching it) at a passing cow pasture. But not without also putting the pedal to the floor so you can zoom past faster in your carbon-coughing vehicle.
It’s almost mandatory these days, after all, to sneer in disdain at a herd of cows from your private jet.
The same essential animal that can turn mere grass into meat, power, clothing, cordage, tools, lubricant, cleansers and roofing materials. The animal whose poop and pruning habits replenishes the soil and strengthens the surrounding ecosystem of plants.
The same animal that helps contain and transmute greenhouse gases through grazing.
The lynchpin. The animal above all animals.
Is threatening the survival of Earth with her belch.
The South Park episodes write themselves, it seems.
And, most depressing is how we look at our children.
Every week, I come across an article in some mainstream rag about how much of a waste children are…
And why you shouldn’t have them.
Rather than adopting more sustainable lifestyles, we’re asked to focus on how horrible having a child would be for the environment… if they acted like us.
Never before has a civilization valued its children less. And never before, as a result, have children felt so useless.
Children are “protected” by thousands of rules against doing any real, satisfying, self-esteem boosting work… and, yet, shockingly, they’re wholly unprepared for the real world.
Mainstream thought is beginning to accept them as little more than beasts of burden.
And, historically speaking, we only do one thing to such beasts.
Thousands of years of natural and practical wisdom and common sense is thrown aside because, soon, the tech rags tell us, we’ll be able to grow meat in a lab.
We are losing an understanding, respect and appreciation of cause and effect.
And if we don’t change our ways, we’re headed for a very rude awakening.
Eat Dirt or Die.
Joel Salatin, in his excellent book Folks, This Ain’t Normal, says the solution is simple.
Start a family garden.
Your kids will get an opportunity to be a part of doing the most valuable work possible — putting food on the table.
And their immune systems will thank you…
“Splinters, blisters, and real dirt under the fingernails are all part of a normal childhood that builds immune systems,” says Salatin. “That, as a culture, we are reducing or even denying this immunological exercise is not only abnormal when viewed through the lens of history, but does not bode well for proper body and soul development. Indeed, it may prove devastating to children’s health. Children’s laboring in gardens is both attitudinally and physically positive. Weeding the beans and picking cucumbers should be seen as part of a healthy child development program. Certainly better than computer screens and television.”
Where should these gardens be located?
“Any lawn, any flowerpot, and any windowsill offers a garden spot. Incorporating gardens into the family’s domestic landscape is both normal and healthy. The notion that children actively engaged in food production exploit these little innocents just ain’t normal. A normal childhood involves digging, planting, germinating, weeding, watering, and preparing.
“That nourishes both the immune system and the soul. How about some things to do?
- Grow things… anything. Indoor grow lights are still magic, and can bring sunlight indoors for remarkable discoveries.
- Lobby for more lenient child labor opportunities so that once again teens can do historically normal work.
- Instead of going on a cruise or Disney vacation, how about choosing a working ranch experience for the family, or an extremely rustic wilderness adventure where you make some traps and hunt for food?
- Brainstorm entrepreneurial child-appropriate businesses—hand crafts, repair, tutoring, calligraphy, customized invitations, cleaning homes, mowing lawns, picking up rocks, hoeing weeds. The list of possibilities could fill many pages. Don’t underestimate the creativity and resourcefulness of your sixteen-year-old unleashed on the community. Stay out of the way and let her run.
150 years ago, if you didn’t stock up for a rainy day, you were an irresponsible fool. And might not make it through the winter.
Today, the guy with a fully-stocked root cellar must have a couple screws loose.
But that’s coming from people who think cow farts are worse for the planet than thousands of private jets flying across the world to hear people talk at conventions about how cow farts are killing the planet.
So, there’s that.
Managing editor, Laissez Faire Today