Kids Need Germs and Dirt. And I Eat Bugs.Sunday, July 15, 2012
I saw a surprising (local) news spot this week that talked about why kids need to dive into dirt and be exposed to germs in order to be healthy. But then again, these stories have been all over the media this year (see here), as folks are starting to actually think about the health and cost ramifications of a hyper-sterilized society. Of course, we (and especially kids) do need exposure to germs to boost our immunity, but to hear a feature story stressing this fact on the local news is remarkable.
A couple of years ago, I wrote this post, “Sanitization or Stupidization?”, where I criticize the government-medical-antibacterial complex hysteria over germs and anything that hasn’t been sanitized by some mega-industrial chemical process. Butler Shaffer wrote, “On Sanitizing America,” also making a similar point. What perplexes me is that folks have bought into the hysteria, willingly, and then they serve as ambassadors of sanitization stupidity with their little, portable sanitizers with special custom skins you can buy for them that clip to your waist so you can have a cool, decorative hand sanitizer. And then these folks chide you for not sharing the same habits. Suddenly, as the sanitization mania loomed large, the rest of us became the great unwashed.
A 2010 article in Hour Detroit noted the exponential surge in sales of sanitizers, from 2007 – 2009, as the media and marketing blitz sold people on the idea that non-sanitizing was a public health threat, and therefore, people needed to germ-proof their lives to save themselves – and the rest of us – from health calamity.
Imports to the United States rose by more than 1,000 percent from July 2007 to December 2009, according to market research firm Panjiva. Although both Johnson & Johnson and the Walgreens drugstore chain decline to release sales figures for Purell, the popular hand gel manufactured in this country, they noted a surge in sales with the outbreak of H1N1 in the spring last year, and then again last fall, when the virus resurfaced.
…Some researchers also say the hygiene hypothesis may account for rising incidences of allergies and asthma, as well as for Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and other auto-immune diseases.
But now, after the failure of the government’s so-called pandemic, folks may once again wake to the fact that humans can peacefully co-exist with germs and dirt.
I also laugh at how folks are so concerned about buying fruits and vegetables and washing the heck out of them before they will eat them. I am not an obsessive food washer. I buy all of my salad stuff (arugula, romaine, greens, spicy lettuce mixes, etc.) from local, mostly urban growers. Of course, it is all fresh-picked the day or two before the farmer’s market, and so there is some visual dirt and bugs in the leaf mixes. They wash it to some degree, but while the process is not perfect, it is good enough for me. I don’t wash it again at home. Sometimes I note the dirt, and even bugs, but I bag the lettuce when I buy it, and I figure what I don’t know when I eat it won’t upset me. It’s the same with the fresh vegetables and greens I buy, such as broccoli, collard greens, swiss chard, etc. I see the bugs and dirt, and I ignore it. Certainly, there are lots of little germ monsters buried deep within my huge bunch of freshly-picked swiss chard. But it all tastes good to me, and, I never get sick anymore.