The Root of Health: Why Roots Matter More Than You Think

You are what you eat, or so the saying goes. At Gills Onions, we like to take it a few steps farther. You are what you eat, and what you eat is what is in the soil, and what is in the soil are roots. 

We know what you’re thinking, “Are you really about to spend an entire article talking about roots?” You bet we are! Roots are one of the unsung heroes of health. Our health is connected to what we put in our bodies, and healthy food starts with healthy soil. The countless connections between soil and food are roots. 

So, let’s dig deeper into the wonderful world of roots hiding just beneath our feet.

Roots and Microbes Working Together

About 470 million years ago, soil microbes like fungi and plants formed what Chris Topp, an associate member at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center calls “an ancient alliance.” 

Plants were new to the scene, having just finished the migration to land from the water. The first thing the plants did was grow roots. Roots helped hold the plants in place and mined for the resources needed to keep each plant alive. Then, in biological terms, the plants teamed up with fungi to help get resources they couldn’t grab on their own. 

When a plant pulls carbon dioxide from the air, it converts it into sugars. The plant can then use the sugars to fuel growth in roots or leaves, or it can swap the sugars with microbes like fungi in exchange for some of its nitrogen or phosphorus. Other microbes taking part in the swap can include bacteria and even viruses. 

Thousands of tiny interconnected roots make the swap happen, reaching out and working together with microbes to find essential nutrients and water. Some of the microbes help exchange and assemble carbon — one of the most basic building blocks of soil. Others fix atmospheric nitrogen. Meanwhile, the roots excrete organic acids that control the soil pH and make delicious elements like phosphorus more readily available for the plant.

In short, roots rule the soil. They feed the plants and manage the microbes. 

What exactly does this crazy subterranean bartering system have to do with you? Everything. 

Healthy Soil, Healthy You 

Healthy roots are the key to healthy soil and healthy crops. Healthy crops are key to healthy people. And yet, most of us don’t go around chatting about roots every day. We probably should. 

Think about it. During the spring in Oklahoma, one acre of pasture has about 1,000 pounds of plant mass aboveground, but there are about 3,500 pounds of roots below the ground. Healthy roots can increase crop yields, reduce the need for fertilizers and chemical pesticides, and filter more carbon dioxide out of the air. Roots make better air, better food, and more of it. 

The Root of Our Commitment to Soil Health

At Gills Onions, we know the difference that healthy soil makes. Our onions are the best because our soil is the best, and our soil is the best because we care about our roots. 

Our farmers grow each onion “The Gill Way.” We take the time to understand the composition and microbiology of the soil and boost soil health with a balanced blend of macro- and micronutrients that work together to create a microbe-friendly environment. With healthy soil in place, our onions can grow larger, more aggressive root systems, creating healthier stalks and leaves. 

We also promote sustainable ag practices like regenerative farming, drip irrigation, and innovative seed development that reduces the need for pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. 

We’re passionate about caring for the environment and educating everyone around us about the importance and the beauty of where our food comes from. That’s why we wrote an entire article about roots. Roots matter, and it’s time we all got back to ours. 

Ready to try onions grown “The Gill Way”? Contact our sales department to learn more. 

Onion Field With Farmer