The newly minted New Yorker sneered, “Georgia? Don’t y’all eat dirt down there?” “Y’all” sounded kind of like “yowl”; apparently up there the subtle differences in diphthongs and intonations escape their ethnocentric sense of hearing. “Well, actually dirt can have some nutrients and possibly fibre-like effects on the intestines, and maybe even play a part in disease resistance for little kids.” (somehow I had to arrange a comeback that covered everything good, whether I made it all up or not). The pear shaped, white guy shook his head and moved away.
Yes, dirt eating, although quite rare, is still around in some areas. I understand there are still a few places where you can buy small plastic bags of dirt (caolin mostly) that has been baked and otherwise processed. Very poor people often craved the missing nutrients in their diet and ate “dirt” processed that way. My gosh, when I was a really young boy and lived out in the country, everything was interesting and got smelled, tasted, and/or eaten if it was close to a food-like substance so I was exposed to a huge variety of things that might be toxic in larger quantities but may have protected me from a lot of today’s rampant allergies, intestinal problems, and autoimmune diseases. Just sayin’.
Somehow, these unusual behaviors become fads. Soon I fully expect one of these yoga oriented lifestyle programs to somehow involve dirt as food. And next soon the weathered guys with tight jeans, moustaches, funny hats, and iPhones with cracked screens, always on the cutting edge of newer hip, will sport a small plastic bag with some form of dirt. They’ll explain casually to their enthralled friend (who pretends everything is pretty normal) that eating dirt can provide a real pathway to creativity and that he’s found a store down just off Smith St. in Brooklyn that sells the stuff really cheap.
It’ll get worse. The wannabes will discover Dirt in bags at Urban Outfitters, and somehow the FDA will be up to their googies in extra work to figure out how to evaluate whether or not people should even be eating playground material. It’ll finally reach the burbs and primped moms will encourage their toddler to plop facedown on the ground and have a mouthful. Then the diseases and warning labels will happen; Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be on every screen trying to restore order. Would sanity eventually prevail? Rest easy; that IS sanity.