It's already been mentioned that entire civilizations have recycled humanure for thousands of years. That should provide a fairly convincing testimony about the usefulness of humanure as an agricultural resource. Many people have heard of the "Healthy Hunzas," a people in what is now a part of Pakistan who reside among the Himalayan peaks, and routinely live to be 120 years old. The Hunzas gained fame in the United States during the 1960s health food era, at which time several books were written about the fantastic longevity of this ancient people. Their extraordinary health has been attributed to the quality of their overall lifestyle, including the quality of the natural food they eat and the soil it's grown on. Few people, however, realize that the Hunzas also compost their humanure and use it to grow their food. They're said to have virtually no disease, no cancer, no heart or intestinal trouble, and they regularly live to be over a hundred years old while "singing, dancing and making love all the way to the grave."
According to Tompkins (1989), "In their manuring, the Hunzakuts return everything they can to the soil: all vegetable parts and pieces that will not serve as food for humans or beast, including such fallen leaves as the cattle will not eat, mixed with their own seasoned excrement, plus dung and urine from their barns. Like their Chinese neighbors, the Hunzakuts save their own manure in special underground vats, clear of any contaminable streams, there to be seasoned for a good six months. Everything that once had life is given new to life through loving hands." 7 (emphasis mine)
Sir Albert Howard wrote in 1947, "The Hunzas are described as far surpassing in health and strength the inhabitants of most other countries; a Hunza can walk across the mountains to Gilgit sixty miles away, transact his business, and return forthwith without feeling unduly fatigued." Sir Howard maintains that this is illustrative of the vital connection between a sound agriculture and good health, insisting that the Hunzas have evolved a system of farming which is perfect. He adds, "To provide the essential humus, every kind of waste [sic], vegetable, animal and human, is mixed and decayed together by the cultivators and incorporated into the soil; the law of return is obeyed, the unseen part of the revolution of the great Wheel is faithfully accomplished." 8 Sir Howard's view is that soil fertility is the real basis of public health.
A medical professional associated with the Hunzas claimed, "During the period of my association with these people I never saw a case of asthenic dyspepsia, of gastric or duodenal ulcer, of appendicitis, of mucous colitis, of cancer . . . Among these people the abdomen over-sensitive to nerve impressions, to fatigue, anxiety, or cold was unknown. Indeed their buoyant abdominal health has, since my return to the West, provided a remarkable contrast with the dyspeptic and colonic lamentations of our highly civilized communities."
Sir Howard adds, "The remarkable health of these people is one of the consequences of their agriculture, in which the law of return is scrupulously obeyed. All their vegetable, animal and human wastes [sic] are carefully returned to the soil of the irrigated terraces which produce the grain, fruit, and vegetables which feed them." 9
The Hunzas composted their organic material, thereby recycling all of it. This actually enhanced their personal health and the health of their community. The US Department of Agriculture was apparently unaware of the effective natural process of composting in 1928 when they described the recycling of humanure as "dangerous and disgusting." No doubt the USDA would have confused the Hunzas, who had for centuries safely and constructively engaged in such recycling.
Source: The Humanure Handbook. Jenkins Publishing, PO Box 607, Grove City, PA 16127. To order, phone: 1-800-639-4099.