Eat the Earth

Over on Edible Geography, Nicola Twilley takes a look at the under-appreciated art of geophagy: eating soil. There is apparently a whole subculture around the practice, Twilley writes, in one case coming complete with “tasting notes for soil, which draw heavily on the vocabulary of wine appreciation.”

At one such earthen event, participants are actually served “two or three wine glasses, each filled with soil from a different organic farm”—and these samplings of different geographies do matter. “In other words, if the earth on which your farm sits has ‘grassy,’ ‘olive,’ or ‘smoky’ notes, those flavours will recur in the organic spinach or goat’s milk cheese you produce. Smelling the soil first simply helps you become aware of the continuity.”

I don’t see myself sprinkling farm-fresh soil on my salads any time soon, I’m afraid, but check out the rest of the post over at Edible Geography.

9 thoughts on “Eat the Earth”

  1. Wow – goes back to our childhood mantra "G-d made dirt, so dirt don't hurt." I was never one to roll my gum in dirt while saying that, and I probably won't be sprinkling dirt over my salads either.

    This is a whole new level.

  2. Funny you should post this …

    My ex-wife is a toxicologist, and when she was in grad school, she ran across a a study published in a journal of various diseases and maladies caused by people who eat dirt.

    It seems that there are various sub cultures in the rural south where people consume a lot of dirt, and there was mentions in the journal report of people who had moved to cities writing home and 'asking mom to mail them some dirt from home, because the stuff around here doesn't taste as good'.

  3. The CDC's site has some interesting information on traditions of dirt-eating on it's page about Pica (look under "Tradition and Culture"):

    On a more speculative note, with the potential for catching a nasty infection from eating dirt, I could see the emergence of underground (oof, sorry) soil tasting clubs among extreme foodies. Here, connoisseurs sample the finest earths far from the prying eyes of the USDA…or the city health department.

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