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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Why Dirt Matters

Feb 26, 2021 02:40PM ● By Sharon Bruckman

In a perfect world, every meal would be organic, locally-sourced and as unspoiled and delicious as possible. Most of it might come from our own backyard plantings, a local community garden or through a personal relationship with an organic farmer. 

According to the National Gardening Association, 22 million new gardens were planted in the United States since the pandemic began. We are coming to understand that the more connected we are to our food sources, the healthier we become. 

Eliminating the intensive farming practices of “big agriculture” that maximize yields and profits, disrupt natural habitants, pollute the environment and deplete our soil would be a huge step forward to healthier eating and a healthier planet.

In this month’s feature story, “The Promise of Regenerative Organic Farming,” Sandra Yeyati describes farming and grazing practices that reverse climate change by rebuilding soil and increasing carbon drawdown, improving the water cycle and ultimately, growing healthier food (page 28). 

Thanks to progressive organizations like the Rodale Institute—a pioneer of the organic food movement for the past 70-plus years—we are making headway. In our exclusive interview with Chief Impact Officer Jeff Tkach, we learn about an emerging concept called regenerative healthcare (page 31).

Rodale is focused on bringing farmers and healthcare professionals together to embrace a prevention-based approach to human and environmental health. Can you imagine the improved health of the world if we quit supporting some the worst practices in health care, stopped growing food full of chemicals and pesticides and put an end to those scary, experimental genetically modified organisms full of toxic Round-Up grown in lifeless soil? Let’s dedicate all of our fields and gardens to growing organic food that supports our health and environment instead. 

If you are starting to get excited about growing more of your own food at home, why not start right in your kitchen? I’ve been sprouting seeds for years, as well as growing wheatgrass, microgreens and one of my favorites: sunflower seeds. Did you know that when you sprout a seed, the nutritional value increases tremendously? Check out “Indoor Edible Gardening” on page 24 for inspiration. 

I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated living in Southwest Florida these past 40 years more than I have since the COVID-19 pandemic hit a year ago. I feel blessed to be able to get out and enjoy a sunset walk on the beach where things seem “almost” normal. 

If you are new to our area, welcome! We’re glad you picked up this copy of Natural Awakenings. Be sure to visit our website at, where you’ll find our updated Healthy Dining Guide, archived features and so much more from our 26 years of publishing in Southwest Florida. 

Stay Healthy,

Sharon Bruckman