Human Remains as Compost for Crops?

A Seattle, USA architect named Katrina Spade has proposed a new solution for urban food production: convert the recently deceased into nutritious compost to feed the food crops.

The project is called the Urban Death Project, and it describes the process of turning dead humans into food as follows:

The Urban Death Project is a compost-based renewal system. At the heart of the project is a three-story core, within which bodies and high-carbon materials are placed. Over the span of a few months, with the help of aerobic decomposition and microbial activity, the bodies decompose fully, leaving a rich compost. The Urban Death Project is not simply a system for turning our bodies into soil-building material. It is also a space for the contemplation of our place in the natural world, and a ritual to help us say goodbye to our loved ones by connecting us with the cycles of nature.

The donate page explains, “Your gift supports the creation of a meaningful, equitable, and ecological alternative for the care and processing of our deceased.”

Yes: in America today, if you buy compost from the big box stores — or even directly from some cities — you are growing your garden vegetables in composted human waste. Lovely…

The Urban Death Project wants to take it one step further. Instead of just composting the feces and sewage from humans, their idea is to compost the entire bodies of the deceased and turn them into nutrients for urban food production.

From an environmental perspective, of course, the idea of composting human bodies into nutrients for plants isn’t as strange as it might sound. In fact, the far more bizarre ritual is pumping dead bodies full of embalming fluids and burying them in overpriced luxury caskets full of synthetic resins and fibers. Embalming fluids are extremely toxic to the planet, and it seems far more respectful to put the body of a deceased person in the ground and let nature run its course.

After all, your body isn’t YOU. The body is just a vessel for the non-material spirit (consciousness) which leaves the body at the moment of physical death. If your time with your physical body is over, then why not return the body to the Earth from which it came in as natural a state as possible?

So from that point of view, at least the intention of the Urban Death Project can’t be faulted. The architect, Katrina Spade, appears to be approaching this from what she sees as a holistic community solution. But she’s so far missing some huge problems with this plan, as I’ll detail below. In fact, the Urban Death Project, if pursued as described on the website, would actually accelerate the death of the very same population it claims to help sustain.

Composting does not eliminate heavy metals and toxic chemicals

To understand the contamination problem with the Urban Death Project, consider this Q&A on the project website:

Q: Is it safe to compost bodies?

ANSWER: Composting creates heat, which kills common viruses and bacteria. Research into mortality composting of livestock has found that the temperature inside the compost reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which is high enough to kill off pathogens. Farmers are using mortality composting in order to safely dispose of their dead livestock, as well as to control odor and runoff. The Urban Death Project is fine-tuning this process to be appropriate and meaningful for humans in an urban setting.

The problem with this explanation is that compost heat does not eliminate toxic heavy metals or toxic chemicals. It also doesn’t eliminate prions, the folded proteins associated with Mad Cow Disease.

The average urban dweller’s body, it turns out, is a toxic stew of lead, cadmium, mercury, fluorine, pesticides and other chemicals.

A typical city-dweller living in America today has an atrociously high level of toxic mercury in their teeth. On top of that, they have also bio-accumulated extremely high levels of lead, cadmium, arsenic and other toxic heavy metals which persist during composting. Lead is often bound to calcium in the human skeletal system. As those bones decompose, they release the lead which becomes part of the composted soil. This lead, in turn, is taken up by plant roots and shuttled into the food crops to be eaten by other humans.

Composting human bodies, in other words, would concentrate the toxic heavy metals and chemicals which are already causing a wave of degeneration and disease around the world. In fact, the mass of a modern human body would be considered “environmentally hazardous” by the EPA if it were water. That’s because humans bio-accumulate and concentrate the toxins of modern agriculture, animal feed, toxic medicine and toxic home building materials.

The Urban Death Project advocates precisely the kind of activity which would concentrate these toxic heavy metals to higher and higher levels in the urban food supply:

Loved ones are encouraged to take some compost back to their own yards and gardens. The compost is also used to nourish the site, and city parks use it to fertilize plants and trees. In this way, the dead are folded back into the fabric of the city.

From a scientific point of view, if a society is composting human bodies and human waste back into the food supply, that same society is inadvertently accumulating toxic heavy metals into higher and higher concentrations with each successive death. Over time, this creates an acutely toxic compost system giving rise to an acutely toxic food supply that accelerates disease and death, thereby reinforcing a vicious cycle of poisoning and death.

From: Natural News, 24 March 2015

Embalming Course

The first 8 learners successfully completed the 2-week embalming course held at Thom Kight & Co, Johannesburg. They have received NFDA certificates and will each have a business card with a unique number.

Luvo Titi Titi Funerals, Mthatha We are going to advertise on our website that we offer embalming and this will change the face of funerals.
Chantel Channer Thom Kight & Co, Johannesburg The course was presented very well in that the theory was combined with the practical, so that when I came across a blocked artery, we had a long discussion about it and I could apply the knowledge right away.
Lovemore Nhiwatiwa Collinge & Co, Fourways I see this as the future of the industry. We are prepared now to meet clients’ requests.
Wickus Dreyer Sonja Smith Funeral Home, Centurion I don’t regret attending this course. This will give our company the edge.
Oshir Jadoo Imbali Funeral Furnishers, Durban I learnt very quickly because we could also follow the information in our notes.
Edward Louwrens Olivier Grobbelaars and Church Street Funeral Services, Pretoria I have done a course in Embalming previously and could show the other trainees different techniques. This was a good refresher.
Vishnu Nellathumby Rand Funerals, Benoni The most difficult part is finding and lifting the arteries. Once you have achieved that the rest is easy.
Qaasim Muhammad Mogoai JD Funerals, Johannesburg It was wonderful to open up a body and see how the Creator has put a person together.


Only one space left.

Deadline for bookings and payment 8 April 2015.

Inland Region Golf Day

Planning is underway for the exciting fun day to be held on 23 September at Zwartkops Golf Course.

Tee off at 11:00 for 11:30. Halfway lunch and a supper will be served.

Dale Hayes, who won the World Cup of Golf for South Africa in partnership with Bobby Cole in 1974, will be the MC at the auction.

Since he stopped playing tour golf Hayes has remained involved in the sport in a variety of ways. He has worked as a broadcaster in South Africa and for the Golf Channel, started and edited a golf magazine and helped to found an internet golf shopping business. He is involved in golf course design. Hayes also works as a public speaker and gives golf clinics.

2015 Expo

DATE: 26 – 27 AUGUST 2015


EXHIBITORS: 15 have paid their deposits so far and booked stands. Do you know of anyone who will be interested in exhibiting? Please send us an email.

WORKSHOPS: planned to run consecutively with the exhibition in a separate venue.

REGISTRATIONS: watch your emails for dates to register online