The Pervasive Power of Poop

Poop, by the strictest definition, is the waste product left over from the digestion of a food source. Call it what you will — scat, number 2, muck, feces, manure, etc. Sure, it can be gross and disgusting, especially when it’s fresh. But our lives would be so much poorer without it, although for some people, their lives are poorer with it, in which case, may I suggest a laxative? But I digress.

As gardeners, we all know how important manure is as a relatively inexpensive source of nitrogen, a critical nutrient, for our garden vegetables. For many of us, if it wasn’t for this “fruit of the cow’s butt” (or horse’s butt or bat’s butt), the fruit of our gardens would be considerably reduced. Ever heard of castings? Castings are another excellent source of critical garden nutrients. They’re also a fancy name for worm poop.

When we make cheese, we add a starter culture to our milk. The bacteria in this starter culture will chew up the sugar (lactose) in the milk and convert it to lactic acid. This lowers the pH of the milk and prepares it for coagulation. So you can think of this lactic acid as bacterial poop.

When fungi colonize a growing medium, they secrete enzymes to break down the food source. They then absorb the nutrients through their cell walls and excrete waste products. They literally swim through their own fungal poop. Then, when the temperature, humidity, and light are just right, the fungi will produce their fruiting bodies, a.k.a. mushrooms. Then we eat the mushrooms — that came from the fungi that was swimming in its own poop. And speaking of mushrooms and poop, do you like portabella mushrooms? You do? Excellent, because they are grown in a pasteurized substrate which often contains horse manure as one of the ingredients.

And last, but not least, how in the world would political campaigns ever even get off the ground without manure to propel them forward?

So remember folks, love may make the world go ’round, but poop is the grease that keeps all the gears moving!

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