by Todd Walker
Is our obsession with sanitation healthy? Venture out into any public space and you’ll find hand sanitizer in the form of wipes, gels, sprays, and foams. It’s a desperate attempt to build a barrier against the creepy crawly “uncleans” lurking at every turn.
We’ve forgotten this dirty little secret: Dirt don’t hurt.
This goes out to all helicopter moms… dads too.
In our war on dirt, we may be causing more harm than good. Helicopter parents shriek when their two-year old takes a bite of the mud pie she proudly made. “Grab the wet wipes, quick!” The “five second” rule no longer applies today. Heaven forbid a chicken wing fall off the plate at the family picnic and make it to your lips. Who knows who or what touched that picnic table.
As a kid, my family camped a lot, even on horse back. If food hit the ground, we ate it. Uncle Otha called the soil “camp salt.” I have adopted the term “caveman seasoning” for those specks of dirt and ash on a campfire hotdog.
Many people actually eat dirt…intentionally. And not just in starving third world countries. Geophagy (eating earth) happens in developed parts of the world as well.
I’m not saying you need to give your toddler a spoon and a bowl of dirt. What I am suggesting is that you land your helicopter from time to time and let your little one get his daily dose of good bacteria. A dirty mouth helps build healthy gut flora and a strong immune system in growing kids. Just keep them away from non-organic matter and dog poop.
Did you know that one gram of uncontaminated soil hosts 10 billion microbial cells? Sprinkle that on your yogurt and eat it.
Our immune system, especially when we’re young, needs a good workout. In a sterilized world of Purell, young children never get a chance to exercise their immune response to bacteria, which by the way, are everywhere. Like the keyboard your using right now. Eww!
The introduction of good and bad bacteria to the body is like putting your physical body through a CrossFit workout for the first time. Your muscles might ache for a few days, but will recover and be stronger.
Even adults need good dirt. Here’s a couple of suggestions to re-connect with your inner child and get dirty.
- Take your shoes off and walk in the dirt. Get grounded.
- Dig in your garden – without gloves. Clean your nails later.
- Eat some veggies from your organic garden that haven’t been washed yet.
- Actually play with your kids (if you have any) in the mud puddles after a rain.
- If you’re into competition, get a group of your friends together and run the Tough Mudder or other dirty race.
- Go fishing, bait your own hook, and rinse the worm slim off your hands in the pond water… then eat your can of sardines. What a great source of Omega 3’s.
- Take a hike or go camping… anything outdoors, really. Being in the dirty outdoors can improve your memory by 20%.
- Go swimming in a lake, pond, or stream.
- Re-establish the “5 Second Rule” on dropped food.
- Land your helicopter and join the fun.
There’s obviously a time and place when it’s appropriate to be clean. You don’t want your doctor stitching you up with filthy hands and suture tools. Duh!
Keeping some hand sanitizer in your purse or bug out bag would be useful if you need to start an emergency fire. The stuff is really flammable. It’s also handy when there’s no water and soap available and clean hands are absolutely needed.
For everyday life though, obsessive cleaning is way overrated. Sanitize-everything gets hyped to SHTF proportions…
Repeat after me, “Dirt don’t hurt. Dirt don’t hurt.”
Now, say it out loud.
You feel better, right?
Don’t hate me. Ditch the hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial soaps and wash up with plain old soap. Wash your hands after handling raw meat, changing the oil in your SUV, and before exiting the restroom. Give yourself and your kids permission to get head to toe dirty.
By reading this far, you’re one step closer to destroying your dirt deficit. How about a dirty little grin?
Your turn to talk dirty. What’s your thoughts?
As always, if you found this helpful, please share. Thanks so much. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for more dirt on our journey to self-sufficiency and resilient living @SurvivalSherpa.
- Hand Washing vs. Hand Sanitizer (everydayfamily.com)
- 7 reasons to prefer soap and water over hand sanitizers (voxxi.com)
How very, very right you are! If you look at other countries, they have survived for a long time without an obsession with hand sanitizer and are very healthy. When we go to their countries, we can get sick or get “Montezuma’s Revenge”. Why? Because our bodies have been sheltered from any germs and we have built up no resistance. My theory: The cleaner you need to be now, the sicker you will be if SHTF – when you run out of that hand sanitizer. Might as well get it over and start on a path of living in the new normal world we will live in. As for me? I will try to purposely expose myself to a variety of germs – like it or not – and start “training” my body to deal with it.