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A friend of mine just informed me of a local herb farm that uses human manure fertilizer.  The farm/farmer has a composting toilet that they harvest the manure from.  

My friend was upset when she learned of this because the farm doesn't advertise they uses of human manure fertilizer on their herbs and vegetables. At first I didn't understand her concern until she pointed out the fact that the folks who supply the "poo" may be on antibiotics, birth control and other proscription drugs.

I would love to hear your feedback on this practice. 

Lizz

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There is a book called Humanure about composting toilets, and from what I understand, the drug levels in composted human manure are burned in the process, and the microbes in the soil somehow neutralizes those things. The book does a better, more scientific explanation of it all... lol It even talks about radiation levels in Chernobyl that have been eliminated in certain once contaminated soil, and that it has something to do with composting. 

You might mention also to your friend, that if she's worried about those things, she can ASK the farmer about their practices, and whether they are using the family's manure, or the public's, and whether they withhold manure that is medicated. (there are different kinds of composting toilets, and with some, it's easy to withhold a "batch" from the compost pile.

Personally, humanure doesn't bother me at all. I'd love to have a composting toilet. The hubs, on the other hand... lol

Thanks Rachel! I just  requested that book from my local library. 

It's a good book! Hope you like it!!

I completely understand where your friend is coming from. The concept of consuming human feces no matter how far removed is simply considered taboo to most people. I think farmers should disclose when they use human waste so that people can make informed purchases.

I didn't get the impression that the farmer was trying to hide the fact... I think Lizz' friend only just realized it... I think that most people greatly misunderstand what exactly using humanure means. I mean, I get that it's strange and even gross to think of, but after reading about it and understanding it more, I see how it's a valuable resource. In fact, it makes HUGE improvements in countries/townships that don't have sewer systems. Sanitation is made better, and in turn, soil is improved for farming. It's a shame so many people in America are so far removed from "the way things work" and how much we waste. Including our waste!! lol

I am all for sustainable practices, so I will educate myself on the process. I just wouldn't want to be the person trying to convince the rest of America.

rachel whetzel said:

I didn't get the impression that the farmer was trying to hide the fact... I think Lizz' friend only just realized it... I think that most people greatly misunderstand what exactly using humanure means. I mean, I get that it's strange and even gross to think of, but after reading about it and understanding it more, I see how it's a valuable resource. In fact, it makes HUGE improvements in countries/townships that don't have sewer systems. Sanitation is made better, and in turn, soil is improved for farming. It's a shame so many people in America are so far removed from "the way things work" and how much we waste. Including our waste!! lol

LOL NO KIDDING!! That's how I feel... it's definitely not the starter conversation you want to have with people... lol I'm not sure WHAT number it is...  At least on here, people are open to "different" ideas... makes things a little less awkward. lol Humanure is a good "everyday english" book to read... and quite possibly might be one of THE only books out there about it...  I'm not 100% sure.

For me it's not so much the fact that it's "people poo" it's the diet of the human I question.  We eat meat and take proscription drugs.  If we can't filter the Prozac out of our water and they are finding  synthetic  hormones  in our marine life how does it not stay in the finished manure? 

Thank goodness for a place like HomeGrown.org where I can ask such a crazy question and get serious answers LOL

The writer of the Humanure book has a forum too! http://www.jenkinspublishing.com/messages/ There's a pharmaceutical thread. http://www.jenkinspublishing.com/messages/messages/1366/2167.html?1...

I guess I'm not totally convinced that all diseases, medications, pathogens could be eliminated by composting and made safe for food gardens...I'll stick with the compost that I make myself from shredded leaves, grass clippings (we use no chemicals at all) and stuff from the kitchen...I'm a vegetarian so there's always lots of fruit and veggie stuff to go into the compost. Better safe than sorry is my motto...but each has to work out what is good for them. I don't look down on those who think it's fine to use composted human manure.  But I do hope growers who engage in such practices are upfront about it because I wouldn't purchase if I knew, and now I know to ask what their practices are. :)

This is why I suggested that the OP's friend ask Q of her farmer. They may USE humanure, but not on food crops, or only on say, orchard crops, where compost never touches the food source. Not all contaminants are eliminated, but it's also true that composted manure's end result is more sanitary than the end result of water treatment at a sewar plant. If you're watering (or your farmer is watering) with city water, don't forget those contaminants we are talking about are still there in that source as well.

We live on 3 acres in the country and have our own well, thank goodness!! We do have a small orchard but we keep it fertilized using our own compost and the only watering it gets is from rain....

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