Editorial: November-December 2014
Positive about poo
By Marg Land
Back in the spring, I had the honor and pleasure of being part of a panel discussion at the EPA AgStar’s annual meeting in San Diego, Calif. The topic? The media’s role in promoting anaerobic digestion.
I’ll be honest – I don’t consider myself much of a public speaker. In fact, I believe I express myself much clearer in print than in person. But after the talk, a very nice gentleman approached me and praised my enthusiasm for the topic because, after all, it’s pretty hard to find people who are enthusiastic about manure.
He had a point. Most of my days are filled with negative stories about manure – several thousand gallons spilled here, thousands of dollars in fines there, a tipped tanker or spreader accident over there. So when I find information promoting the benefits of animal excrement, I tend to get excited. But this latest pro-manure story has left me with mixed views.
About a year ago, an elderly woman in the Hunan province of China was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. But rather than waiting to die, she decided to do something about it. Why she decided to do this particular something, I’m really not sure, but eight months ago, she began preparing and ingesting her own treatment. Now she says she’s cancer free. And what is this miracle cure, you ask?
Why, manure infused water of course.
In a cringe-worthy article currently making the rounds of the Internet, it’s claimed this Chinese lady, plus 20 of her neighbors, is cooking up her own poop soup using air dried cow and goat manure that is then stir-fried and ground up. One spoonful is mixed in a cup of water and drank twice daily. And everyone is feeling as healthy as a horse.
But how can this be? Here in North America, where leafy greens have to be practically sterilized before they’re considered free of E. Coli, the idea of drinking manure water would send the local health department running to your door. But it seems there is some truth behind this stomach-churning Chinese fad.
According to a research scientist with the Cancer Prevention Institute of California, who is also a member of the Stanford Cancer Institute, the human body needs to be regularly exposed to nasty bacteria and microbes because they can help people fight off illness.
According to Dr. Christina Clarke, the immune system can be stimulated by inhalation of endotoxins, which become airborne when cow or dog manure dries. It’s believed exposure to these microbes might play a role in cancer and inflammatory diseases.
Back in 1996, an Italian researcher by the name of Giuseppe Mestrangelo discovered that dairy farmers are 35 percent less likely to develop cancer and 51 percent less likely to develop lung cancer to other farmers. Why? Cow manure, of course.
He also found that the longer a dairy farmer worked with cattle plus the more land and animals he or she had, the less risk they had of developing lung cancer.
While it’s an interesting idea, I’m not sure if I’m 100 percent convinced. But if there are any readers out there who would like to put this hypothesis to the test, feel free. I’m sure Dr. Clarke would be interested in the end results as well.