Monday, August 22, 2016

Dirt: Cure or Love Story?

Found this dirty little gem in the *NEW* section of the library's offerings. (Gem means book, not dog.) This is one of the most ambitious books I have ever read. Maya Shetreat-Klein, MD undertakes a massive project in The Dirt Cure (2016).

In 332 pages, we review all the environmental, supply-chain, attitudes and ethos, additives, media-influences, family and cultural pressures, recipes, menus, kitchen layouts, camping, shopping, thinking and issues of emotional landscapes..... (breathe).... that result in our ruined gut-bacteria, cause headaches, allergies, and behavioral, neurological, hormonal, mental, emotional, endocrine/pancreatic, and cardio-vascular problems.

Beginning with a quote from Albert Einstein, we move to the revised "you are what your food eats," which points us to our first philosopher/foodie, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (3, 6). Then comes more.

Marcel Proust, Hippocrates, John Muir, Ralph Waldo Emerson, (John Muir again, then Albert Einstein, again), A reference to PETA with "Chapter Ten: Meet Your Meat," Henry David Thoreau, Wendell Berry, Rachel Carson (20, 61, 131, 159, 167, 169, 181, 233, 271, 297). Everyone from the bookshelf above, minus Beowulf there on the bottom. Ambitious.

If your home/office bookshelves look like mine, you are likely not the target audience for this book. But if a diet of take-out and soda makes you feel gross and you legitimately don't know why, or if you are more familiar with literary pigoons (from Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake), than their real-life facsimiles, then this intense book is a good intro of all the things!

(Yes, those are Beanie Baby Pigoons. Limited mash-up edition, 2004-ish. My dad made them for me after my first conference presentation. Believe it or not, my presentation was on Oryx and Crake. It all started there, I suppose.)

If you see some repeats on my bookshelves and yours, I'd point you instead to the documentary "Dirt! A Love Story!" [That one is more about dirt, and not, well, everything. Even though dirt is everything.]

Or I'd point you to Helene A. Shugart's Heavy (2016). Heavy takes us through the stories about obesity that we've naturalized. The thing about those naturalized stories, though, is they aren't just about obesity, they're about eating in our rhetorical situation in general. They explain what's going on in The Dirt Cure. But more on this later.

If you've read Heavy, then the place to point you is back to Das Kapital. Light summer reading, and trust me on this: NO ONE will bug you if you have your nose in that while you're at the coffee shop. The Dirt Cure? You will make friends. I speak from experience.

Read on, comrades, read on. Yes, that is a piggy bank. A Pigarx!


  1. totally worth reading post.. thanks for sharing

    Hni Crude Call

  2. I really wish you would post more often. From somebody who reads 100+ books a year, it would be great to have some guidance on what is worth reading for whom (it isn't that difficult, the question is if you like X, Y, and Z, does this particular wok satisfy?)

    I also want to plug a book by one of my former classmates. Tripping Back Blue was written by a woman in my high school graduating class. We weren't more than casual acquaintances, but I think, given the appropriate attention, that she will be successful, and deservedly so (at least inasmuch as I know her). I haven't finished it yet, but since i'm more of a computer person than a literature person, I'm not really qualified to comment on the quality of the content any more deeply than I ever could. Maybe if it were written in perl or python I'd have a chance, but english....

    Anyway, have a wonderful holiday!