Health Hazards?

(Question)

Good evening,

I’m starting my third year of urban and organic gardening, so I’m really new to this. I’m a big advocate for organic, integrated pest management and soil life, but I’m always worried whenever I see some unknown insects, fungus or disease that affects my plants.

Let me explain – I’m worried it could be a problem for my health and the health of my family. I know it’s a bit extreme, but I can’t help to wonder. Like, for example, when the government recalls a particular brand of lettuce because of some Ecoli bacteria, how did it got infected in the first place? Or that not so long ago people used to have worms in their flour…

Can you enlighten me on what I should pay attention to to make sure we don’t get sick? I obviously won’t eat a tomato that has bird poop on it, but if that poop gets into my soil, should I worry? You know, that kind of thing.

I’m not sure if this is the right place to ask this kind of question, nor if I convey my point properly.
In any cases, I would be very grateful if you had any ressource you could give me to help answer my big question ;)

Thank you so much for your time,

Have a wonderful day!

* Maxime *

 

(Answer)

Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.

You’re right being a big advocate for soil life. Soil consists of both solid matter — soil particles — and the space around the soil particles, called pore space. In this space there is air and water. Usually the solid matter is made up of mineral matter like particles of various sizes from sand to clay, organic matter and populations of soil organisms including both animals and plants. The animal organisms in soil are divided into macroorganisms such as small mammals, insects, earthworms, and slugs and microorganisms such as nematodes, protozoa, bacteria, and fungi. The plant organisms in soil include algae (responsible for nitrogen fixation). The organisms living in the soil, both large and small, play a significant role in maintaining a healthy soil system and healthy plants. These organisms help to break down and incorporate dead plant and animal material into the soil and release nutrients for plant use. They aerate the soil with their burrows and thus improve the soil structure.

Here are some articles for helping you to answer your big question.

Canadian Public Health Notice on E. coli infection:

Well documented and informative source on Good and bad microbes:

Soil and Compost: