As summer winds down quickly here in Alberta, there are a number of garden tasks demanding my attention. There are perennials to divide, root vegetables to harvest and plants to relocate. These are all messy jobs that involve getting my hands dirty.
I used to be quite a germaphobe: antibacterial soap, alcohol hand sanitizer, and bleach were used daily. During this phase of my life, I would have worn gloves and thoroughly sanitized my hands (sometimes with bleach!) after any garden work.
I have struggled with chronic sinusitis dating back to this period. My cleaning strategies did me little good and perhaps some harm. Academic journal articles are available on the potential negative consequences of Triclosan and of the possibility that antibacterial soap could contribute to antibiotic resistance.
I’m changing my relationship with dirt and accepting that I need it to live. Here’s a great article from the David Suzuki Foundation: Microbes, biodiversity and the benefits of getting dirty
Armed with a (mostly) reformed perspective, I get my hands dirty in the garden most days. I eat fresh carrots with traces of dirt on them. Today I’m going to make another batch of apple, beet and carrot salad (ABC Salad) and relish the earthy flavors.
ABC Salad recipe, from my friend Annette, is as follows:
- Grate approximately equal amounts of carrot, beet, and apple into a bowl (say 2-3 small carrots, 2-3 beets, 1 large apple)
- Squeeze into the mix the juice of a small lemon
- Add a 1/4 cup of nuts (I like walnuts or pecans) and 1/4 cup dried fruit (dates, figs or apricots are good)
You can tweak this to your taste. I added some zucchini last time because as anyone who grows it can attest there is always more zucchini! Note to anyone new to beets: if you eat a healthy portion your pee might be pink — referred to as beeturia it is the natural red pigment passing through. Your hands, however, will definitely be pink after grating the beets.