I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve (finally) started paging through my favorite seed catalogs, thinking about seeds, planting and the soil in which I grow my food. I live in South Philly, so the vast majority of my gardening is done in containers, and as my favorite gardening guru said (or perhaps wrote in one of her books), for all intents and purposes, the soil is the garden.
Beyond growing the living things that we, eventually, eat, soil is actually teeming with life that goes well beyond earthworms. Tons of bacteria, from C. botulinum to our lactic acid friends, make their homes there as well. Things that grow in the soil (aka plants) are covered in a wide variety of bacteria as a result. You can read more about how to help the good bacteria thrive after being plucked from the earth here.
Since those bacteria start in the soil, they are primarily present on the peels or skins of the vegetables. I took a big ol’ class with Sandor Katz last summer and one of the (many) things I asked in the class was whether or not it is true that the bacteria lived pretty much exclusively on the peels. Katz confirmed that it was, and made a fun analogy that has stuck with me. He compared the bacteria on the peels of vegetables to the bacteria on our skin and throughout our digestive tract (from mouth to intestines). Other than that, our bodies are generally free from bacterial life. Since vegetables don’t have a digestive tract, the bacteria with which they co-exist inhabit their skins, almost exclusively. Click to see which vegetables should keep their peels and which can lose them