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the dirt on dirt

I love the smell of dirt in the spring when the rains have wet the forest floor and farm fields of Indiana where I grew up. There’s a richness in the promise of green that will soon follow, as the flowers and plants begin to peek their heads up and the trees begin to bud, but on those first early days, when the soil is drinking in the last of the snowmelt, and the warm winds envelop me as I walk or bike through the landscape that is no longer winter but not yet spring, I’m in heaven.

And as much as I’d like to think that this feeling is heaven sent, the experiment is repeatable, not just for me but for everyone. There’s this little guy down in the muck named Mycobacterium vaccae, or M. vaccae for short, and he’s got some happy drugs for us. One of my friends pinged me a couple of days ago with a story over at Gardening Know How that sheds a bit of light on the subject of loam. Because of my extensive research in the dirt, I already knew this intuitively because, well, I like to get dirty. And muddy. And natchurel. I love to go outside, get wild, and reconnect with nature.

But dirt, it seems, in addition to being the most awesome substance on earth, is also a natural antidepressant. There is a lot of evidence that it stimulates serotonin production, which relaxes us and makes us feel happy. How great is that? If you need a financial breakdown of the cost savings between antidepressants and dirt, I went through the trouble of researching it for you. The results follow:

One month of the generic form of Prozac:  $25

One month of the generic form of Dirt: Free

There is an added bonus that the effects of a single session of playing in the dirt can last for up to three weeks, so feel free to indulge. I’m planning on going out this weekend and seeing if I can overdose. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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