Six ways some people think about this stuff every day.
1. For some, it's a delicacy.
No kidding. Tokyo chef Toshio Tanabe serves soil to his customers — with potato balls, as a soup, and as sorbet.
2. For others, it's a beauty secret.
3. It's also lots of fun.
4. Soil has been the birth — and the downfall — of entire civilizations like the ancient Mayan Empire, ancient Greeks, and Easter Islanders.
As Vandana Shiva, an advocate for sustainable farming, says, a war on the soil is like suicide. Past cultures, like the Mayan Empire, ancient Greeks, and Easter Islanders, cleared land for farming, but left the soil exposed to wind and water, which carried away the rich topsoil. Think about what we did here in the U.S. to the land during the Dust Bowl (a.k.a. "Dirty Thirties.") Topsoil is the fertile layer where all the action is. Without it, crops struggle to grow, produce less, and are vulnerable to diseases. That means less food for people.
5. One scientist describes fertile soil as "Times Square all the time."
Just a tablespoon of soil can hold a billion living things — insects, spiders, worms, mites, fungi, tens of thousands of bacteria, and plant roots. When plants and animals die, their remains are broken down by these tiny creatures, releasing nutrients.