Who hasn't heard (and somewhat believed) the saying "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" whose origins can be found in the Bible? To me, it implies that we are merely molded, living, mounds of dirt.

Now whether or not you are religious - I will not pit religion against science and vice versa - I don't think anyone can argue that we are made up of the same substances as that found in the earth. In fact, aside from the testament in the Bible (for those who are religious), it has been scientifically proven, sorta, that man came from dustThe human body contains 59 elements and all of these elements are also found on the earth's crust. The major elements are of comparable proportions in both. And even more interesting is the fact that when there is an excess of some of these elements, such as aluminum, the body suffers various ailments and disease. With most of the human body being comprised of water, when dust is mixed with water you get clay. We are real live, walking and talking, claymations!

Mineral graph of earth and human body

Of Mice and Men

For some reason, people almost always associate dirt with dirtiness in a negative way. But little do we know, research has shown that playing in dirt is actually beneficial. Not only has it been shown to make kids smarter, but It also contains the anxiety-reducing natural soil microbe Mycobacterium vaccae. Okay, now, I can see dirt being an alternative to anxiety-reducing medicines as many things in nature have medicinal benefits. But, to make you smart? Come on!

Well, turns out that the bacterium causes an increase in the production of seratonin in mice. Seratonin reduces anxiety and aids in learning in mice and men. Mice exposed to bacterium ran the experimental maze faster than those not exposed to the bacterium. Apparently, this benefit could be linked to the reduction of anxiety and increase in learning in children as well. Soccer moms, let the children play... just be prepared to clean up the footprints on the white carpeting in the formal living room as they make a bee-line to take off their dirty dungarees and hop in the tub.

Photo of boy playing in mud
You Should Eat What You Are

If we are made of dirt and can benefit from playing in dirt, would it also stand that we should eat what we are? Hah! Research has also shown that eating dirt may be beneficial too. Believe it or not, clay absorbs toxins and is believed to be particularly beneficial in pregnant women. Many cultures from ancient Greeks to sub-Saharan Africans eat dirt, also called geophagy. Who'd a thunk it?!? Dirt, the new green brown mineral supplement! But again, just like playing in dirt, there are stigmas against eating it. I bet most people didn't know that Kaopectate is made with clay! 

Six Feet Under

We humans are created from dirt and we can maintain a healthy body and mind by playing in and eating dirt. And then what? We DIE! Our bodies turn into lifeless lumps of clay. Then why is it that we spend thousands of dollars to have the lifeless lumps preserved in harmful chemicals (embalming fluids) and placed in fancy-smancy coffins with nonbiodegradable metals and other materials and topped with a tombstone as if icing on the cake... er, mud pie?

With everyone "going green" would it not make sense to have "green burials"? Okay, here comes another "aha" moment, for there is a movement towards a greener death. In the 1990's, it was unheard of for Americans over 50 years old to desire eco-friendly burials. But in 2007, 21 percent preferred green burials. And the trend of green funerals is starting to catch on. However, it seems that people are more interested in reconnecting with nature rather than helping to save the environment. Do they not realize that, they will be added to the other end of the food chain and will, in a manner of speaking, become compost rubbage? How can they not glorify and gloat at the chance to give back to Mother Earth some of what has been taken away?

Regardless of the reasons people decide to pass fashionably green from this life to wherever, everyone can take to heart the sing-song of children rolling around in the dirt chanting "god made dirt and dirt don't hurt"... and even take it to their grave for the benefit of the plants, earth, mankind and even creepy crawlies. At least kids aren't singing David Bowie's "Ashes to ashes, funk to funky. We know Major Tom's a junkie."