Food & Well being Local Foodies' Corner

Soil Microbes and Mental Health: Decoding the Hidden Connections

The human gut microbiome relies on microbes to function optimally, and the same is true for soil. Josie, the co-founder of Food2Soil and a dietitian has always been fascinated by the role of microbes in human health and the similarities between our digestive system and soil. Microbes play a crucial role in increasing immunity, building resilience to pests, allergies, and diseases, and promoting health and vitality in both soil and the gut. Moreover, certain bacteria found in soil are a primary source of antibiotics and other medicines.

Research has shown that microbial diversity below ground equals abundant and healthy life above ground. When there is thriving life in the soil, plants and crops are less likely to be affected by pests above ground. Microbes support the area around the plant’s roots, called the rhizosphere, by breaking down essential nutrients that plants need to grow and thrive, and plants emit substances that feed the microbes. Therefore, we eat the produce, and the cycle continues.

In areas where regenerative agriculture farming methods are practised, foods not only taste better but also have a wider range of microbial life in and around them, which directly benefits the human gut.

Research has linked microbes to improved emotional and mental health. Modern lifestyles and industrial agricultural practices have reduced our connection with soils, contributing to the depletion of soils and adversely affecting the gut microbiome.

In 1908, Nobel prize winner Elie Metchnikoff first observed that those living in a region of Bulgaria consuming large amounts of fermented food in their diet tended to live longer. This gave rise to the popularity of probiotic foods with health benefits and further studies into what we eat – and the relationship between food, health and well-being.

Researchers are still discovering how microbes, such as the common bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae found in soil, can act as an antidepressant, boosting levels of happy hormones and serotonin while reducing the stress hormone cortisol. In recent years, scientists have also found beneficial bacteria, namely Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium, significantly reduce psychological distress in the form of anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Microbes are responsible for half of the chemical composition of petrichor, the aroma soils emit after rainfall on Earth. Microbial life in the soil produces a chemical called geosmin, combined with broken-down long-chain fatty acids from plant leaves. This uplifting scent can positively impact a farmer’s or gardener’s mood, particularly in Australia, indicating moisture landing on dry soils.

Spending time in nature, whether it be gardening, walking, or simply sitting in a green space, provides a multitude of benefits, including reduced stress, anxiety, and negative thoughts, and doctors are now prescribing these activities to combat various different conditions, as well as factors linked to ill health such as loneliness and isolation.

By caring for, touching, and tending to soils and eating produce directly from the garden, we are unknowingly consuming trace amounts of microbes and receiving the life-enhancing benefits they provide. By eating food from healthy soils, we can feel better and create a more sustainable future. Food2Soil’s core mission is to nourish and return life back to the soil, and you can join the movement by clicking here.


Home gardening Local Foodies' Corner

The Importance of Microbes to Soil and human health.

For a long time, the soil was thought of as something we walked on, built on, buried things in, dug up, and something we grew plants in. But recently, the vital role soil plays in human and planetary health is being recognised. A lot of this “vital role” comes down to the diverse microbial ecosystem in soil, or as we like to call it ‘subterranean workforce’.

Though we cannot see, hear, or feel microbes, they are essential for all life on earth due to their huge diversity in form and function. Nowhere is this truer than in soil, where they are essential in preventing soil erosion, conserving water, promoting plant resilience and growth and breaking down environmental pollutants. They also help fight climate change by capturing and storing atmospheric carbon.

These factors alone are reason enough to sing the praises of microbes; however, research is also showing how the soil microbiome can positively impact human health by boosting our immunity and the nutritional density and flavour of the food we eat.

Historically, soil was associated with its negative impact on humans such as through pathogenic organisms (viruses or parasites), toxins (such as lead or arsenic) or problems in soil causing nutrient deficiency in crops (such as low iodine and iron).  However, in the process of finding solutions to these problems, scientists looked to soil microbes to protect us.  One good example is the majority of antibiotics actually originate from soil microbes.

Evidence suggests that children raised on farms have lower rates of allergy and asthma than urban children, with the main difference being the rich microbe environments of farms and animals. These conditions help regulate the immune response and play a key role in determining the nutrient content of food.

There are many interactions that take place between soil microbes and plant roots. Plants secrete compounds to feed nearby microbes, in return, microbes enable plants to capture essential nutrients they need from soil (such as nitrogen, and phosphorous) and produce a series of chemicals called phytonutrients or, commonly known as antioxidants.

It’s these chemicals that protect plants from pests or other stress factors, and give food its unique flavour, smell and colour. Research shows these chemicals also benefit humans by regulating hormones, stimulating our immune system and slowing the growth of cancer cells.  It’s been said ‘healthy soil equals healthy people’.

It is now widely accepted by soil scientists all over the world that soil with a diverse microbial community promotes plant growth, compared to soil with a limited microbial makeup which suppresses growth. It is also understood microbes communicate and operate in communities and work together in unison with their environments. They can even prewarn a plant that drought conditions are coming! (Soil, M.Evans 2021)

Unfortunately, modern agricultural practices (such as tillage, chemical-based fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides) have been destroying microbial populations in soil, to a point where the nutrients in the food we eat today is said to be 30% lower in nutrients than in our grandparent’s time.

Thankfully there is a growing popularity in land regeneration practices that protect topsoil, producing food with more antioxidants and building diversity and density of soil microbes (biostimulants such as Food2Soil, fall into this category).

Rotating crops and grazing animals, resting pasture, and using cover crops (plants grown to keep soil covered in the offseason) are also valuable ways to reduce topsoil erosion.

The UN reports that if we were to take 2 million of the 5 million acres of degraded land and practice regenerative agriculture, we could pause climate change and give ourselves another 20 years to come up with climate solutions. When I first read this, it was a WOW moment.

So, we know we need to stop practices that are bad for soil and start doing things that we know preserve and protect topsoil and our unseen, underground heroes ‘microbes’.  But how do we get change to happen sooner rather than later?

At Food2Soil we are on a mission to educate people on the connection between soil and health and to change the public perception of soil.  We want to ensure soil is seen not just as dirt but as a wonderous, alive ecosystem essential for human health and all life on the planet.

About the authors

Food2Soil Co-founder Josie Grenfell

Josie’s background is in public health nutrition and dietetics, with particular interest in gastrointestinal complications and the human gut microbiome. She established Little Waste Co sustainable waste consultancy in 2017 and has a long-time passion for gardening and soil health. She spends her spare time with her family, in the garden, active in nature and cooking.

Food2Soil Co-Founder Annabel Schweiger –  Annabel has a cert 4 in commercial cookery, experience working in award-winning restaurants and running a successful market garden. Working as a waste and recycling consultant, establishing Biota Sustainability in 2018. Annabel is a regenerative landholder and a permaculture expert and spends her spare time with her family and animals, gardening, reading and playing basketball.

Food & Well being Local Foodies' Corner

Superfoods: What They Are and Why You Need Them?

The term “superfoods” has become a buzzword in the world of health and nutrition. These foods are highly nutritious and provide various health benefits. In this article, we will explore what superfoods are, why they are necessary, and provide examples of natural superfoods that people can incorporate into their diet. We will also mention some readily available Australian-made alternatives for natural superfoods.

What are superfoods?

Superfoods are foods that are high in nutritional value and offer a range of health benefits. They are typically rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that can help support the body’s immune system, improve digestion, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

While no official definition of a superfood exists, many experts agree that these foods should meet certain criteria. For example, they should be nutrient-dense, meaning they contain a high concentration of vitamins and minerals relative to their caloric value. They should also offer a range of health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, improving digestion, and supporting heart health.

Why do people need superfoods?

In today’s fast-paced world, people are often busy and may not always have time to prepare nutrient-rich meals. Additionally, many modern diets are lacking in essential vitamins and minerals due to the consumption of processed foods. Superfoods provide an easy and convenient way to get the nutrients you need to support optimal health.

Research has shown that consuming a diet rich in superfoods can have a range of health benefits. For example, a study published in the journal Nutrients found that consuming a diet rich in superfoods can help improve cognitive function, reduce inflammation, and support heart health.

Examples of natural superfoods

Here are some examples of natural superfoods that you can easily incorporate into your diet.


 These small fruits are packed with antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and protect against disease. They are also a good source of fibre, which can help improve digestion.


 Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables, containing high amounts of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium and iron. It is also a good source of antioxidants, which can help protect against disease.


Quinoa is a complete protein that contains all of the essential amino acids the body needs. It is also a good source of fibre, iron, and magnesium.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and support heart health. They are also a good source of fibre, protein, and calcium.


Avocado is a rich source of healthy fats, which can help support heart health. It is also high in vitamins C, K, and E and potassium.

Alternatives to natural superfoods.

Alternatives to natural superfoods offer a range of superfood products designed to provide a convenient and easy way to get the nutrients you need to support optimal health.


Superfoods are foods that are packed with nutrients and offer a range of health benefits. Incorporating superfoods into your diet can help support optimal health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Natural superfoods, such as blueberries, kale, and quinoa, are easy to incorporate into your diet and can easily be ordered from a local online market. Also, specially formulated alternative products offer a convenient and easy way to get the nutrients you need to support optimal health. Whether you choose to incorporate natural superfoods or alternative foods into your diet, the benefits of these nutrient-rich foods are clear.

Local Events Local Foodies' Corner

Celebrating Excellence Among Local Food Businesses in Nowra, NSW Community.

Yesterday, May 1, 2023, marked the launch of the Local Food Hero award program to celebrate the best of our local food scene. The Local Food Hero Award aims to recognize and celebrate the most amazing local food businesses around Nowra. Nominations are now open, giving people in Nowra and its neighbouring suburbs the chance to recognize and support their favourite local food businesses.

“We’re excited to launch the maiden edition of this great initiative to celebrate the amazing local food businesses that make Nowra such a vibrant and wonderful place to experience,” said Elizabeth Akinsanya, Founder of Food Markies. “By nominating and voting for your favourite local food business, you’re not only supporting them but also helping to build a stronger and more connected community.”

To nominate your favourite local food business and learn more about the Local Food Hero award, visit and conditions apply.

The five businesses with the most nominations will be put to a public vote starting May 16, 2023. The winner of the final vote will receive a fantastic prize package sponsored by Food Markies and Drummerboy Pictures, helping them grow their business and continue providing great quality food with excellence to our community.

About Food Markies: & Drummerboy pictures

Food Markies is an online market for selling food online, shopping with small local food businesses and building a stronger community. We believe in a local food system that helps local families thrive better. For people who are too busy to shop all over town, we provide easy and convenient access to delicious, high-quality food offered by small local businesses in your community,

Drummerboy Pictures is a highly reputable and professional filmmaking & photography business capturing the rhythm of life in the Shoalhaven region. Harry, the business owner of Drummerboy Pictures, is highly rated for his work in Kangaroo Valley, and he is passionate about supporting his local community.