A lot of us compost. It’s one of the first “green” or “natural” things people do, a form of recycling. Then we start gardening, and compost goes to a new level as we seek better soil for our fruits and vegetables. We get animals, and compost their bedding and feces as well, or go to farmers who have too much bedding and feces and ask for some for our gardens. It seems simple; you put in poop and vegetable matter, let it decompose, then take the new dirt and grow your food in it. Yet…not all is as it seems.
Composting actually requires some thought. Would you ingest pesticides and herbicide on your dinner plate? Will you eat genetically modified food? Unless you are very careful, you will be doing all of this when composting and then using your compost in the garden. Everything seems to be getting sprayed today. Fruits, vegetables, nuts. Grass. Kill the ants! Kill the pests! Kill the clover! Kill the weeds! Kill us?!
If it’s not enough to spray everything under the sun to kill the stuff we don’t want, we modify it on a molecular level to create super plants that emit toxins! We change the structure of food plants to withstand chemical toxin sprays. Then we feed them to our children, our pets, our livestock, and then put them in our compost. Think about it. We know it is nearly impossible today to get corn completly free of genetic modification because it is a wind-pollinated plant and there are so many fields of Monsanto corn that you cannot help but get cross-polination. And what is in most livestock feed? Corn. And soybean. Another deadly plant today. And so we feed our animals to get milk, meat, and eggs expecting to get better, more healthful food for our bodies. We use the waste from the animals to make our garden grow better, where they have pooped out any toxins the liver can expunge that hasn’t made it into our bodies via the meat, milk, and eggs, and then we allow our plants to soak them up so we can eat the rest.
So, you don’t have livestock you say? You buy organic? Even the rain and groundwater contain these toxins today. Do you EVER treat for pests on your lawn? Does your neighbor? Do you ALWAYS buy organic everything? Do you compost newspaper and cardboard? Do you or your neighbors treat lawns, ever? Do you use grass clippings from such in your compost? Do you buy bagged mulch or compost from the store (even worse!)? Everywhere you go you are burdened by the toxins, many times not even realizing it.
Here is a story to illustrate the severity of toxins. We have fire ants. Bad, bad problems with them. We live surrounded by public property where they spray to get rid of (notice I don’t say eliminate or kill, because it doesn’t work that way) the fire ants. We don’t, so the ants take refuge in our yard. They love the not-so-toxic food and the pesticide-free lawn. They love our feet while we work in the garden. We tried to get rid of them with guinea hens, and it was working great, but there were so many complaints we sold the birds. THe ants came back. We tried natural remedies, and nothing worked. So…we broke down and used pestacides ourselves. A few of the piles dissapeared, but most just moved deeper in the ground to reapear in greater numbers. A few months later we allowed our chickens to search for food in the yard and garden. Their eggs became weak, the birds sickly and suseptible to parasites. We would coop them, get them well, and release them. Withinn days they were again producing weak eggs and becomeing sickly. 3 years later we still see minor effects from the pesticides on our hens when we let them roam, but it is decreasing. But think….after 3 YEARS the pesticides were showing up in our birds, but the ant population was growing.
Now, think about that in compost terms. You put grass clippings in your compost that maybe got some overspray. You add a apple peels because you didn’t want to eat the pesticide spray off of them, so you peeled the apples and threw the peels on your compost assuming it would not effect your garden plants later. You cleaned a friends horse barn so you could have the manure and straw, and that horse ate a common feed with corn, soybeans, and medications, and you put it in your compost pile. Then, in spring, you took all of this and put it in your garden. If your lucky, half the toxins are gone, but what is left will be soaked up by hungry plants. Then you serve your family the vegetables every day over the summer, and preserve for winter.
So, what do we do? First, thinking about everything you put in your compost as something you will someday eat will help. Feed your animals the best foods you can, avoiding crops that are genetically altered. Take as little from sources outside your yard as possible to limit contamination. Be active campaigning against genetically modified foods, herbicide and pesticide use, and endeavor to support farmers that grow quality organic produce. Demand excellence in what you buy and how you treat your little bit of land, not allowing toxins to be used in and out of your home. Talk to your neighbors and educate them so that perhaps you will have an insulation barrier against toxins at the edges of your property. Our world is polluted, and no doubt we cannot completely alter that in our lifetime, but we can revitalize our small pieces of land, and together create a web of health.