I was going to ignore this comment — can’t get to everything, not always enough time to respond to questions etc — but having to justify why eating actual soil from the ground is bad for you is probably my favorite thing that’s happened so far this week.

So, justification:

  1. We know that soil contains harmful pollutants. This is true regardless of where you live in the world. Even far away from cities, there are often things like lead, cadmium, etc just waiting to be eaten and poison you.
  2. We know that soil contains many infectious bacteria. This is hardly surprising, especially in agricultural areas, because animals poop on it. Eating soil means eating animal poop. Delicious.
  3. We know that many parasites live in the soil. Again, not surprising, because, you know, animal poop.

There are some studies that link the practice of eating dirt directly with these contaminants — see the last link if you’re interested — but generally speaking it’s not a hugely studied topic. That’s mostly because a) not many people eat dirt and b) it’s unethical to give people things that are known to be poisonous in a clinical trial. So tying geophagy directly with clinical outcomes is not easy, aside from case studies in sub-Saharan Africa.

On the other hand, it doesn’t take rigorous research to conclude that eating literal poison by the handful is likely to have poor health outcomes. No one has conducted a clinical trial on fatal headshots to see if they’re problematic either.

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