By Carol Stiffler

Glenda Sharrett wants to know what’s in her food.

Sharrett, who suffers from an auto-immune disorder, is an organic gardener. On her 38-acre plot, she is managing six gardens, working on them when she has the strength. She is growing fruits and vegetables and flowers and trees.

This July, she bought seven bags of Miracle Grow organic soil from a store downstate. She has a myriad of projects going on her lawn, which is so wet it grows cattails in some places, so she was planning to grow grapes and other things in raised beds.

After dumping out a bag of the soil, she smoothed it out with her hands. She had used Miracle Grow’s organic soil for years, planting things like strawberries and asparagus and fruit trees. But this time, Sharrett found plastic, glass, wire, and garbage of all kinds in the new soil. It was anything but organic, and she was horrified. That’s not the kind of soil she wants to grow food in.

“I want to know that my food is clean and healthy, that there’s nothing in it that shouldn’t be there,” Sharrett said. “Especially because I’m sick.”

Here in town, there was no other dirt available to buy except the same kind, with the same lot number and everything.

Unsure what to do, Sharrett got on the phone. It took her two days of phone calls to find the right place to complain. She warned other gardeners in various places online, and learned that many of them had experienced the same thing in their organic Miracle Grow dirt. Some people even reported finding bandaids in theirs.

Reviews on Miracle Grow’s website indicate this problem was going on for more than a year, she said, and there is no reason for this sort of trash to be in an organic soil mix in the first place.

“I had already potted two grape plants into the dirt,” Sharrett said. “They both (since) died.”

Miracle Grow offered to refund her for the soil and come and remove it, so long as she would never speak of it again, she said. She refused.

After speaking with the Michigan Department of Agriculture, a representative came out and took one-pound samples from four of the bags. They are testing the soil.

Sharrett doesn’t want this problem silenced by Miracle Grow; she wants it fixed.

It’s part of a bigger problem she sees in the U.S. marketplace.

“Corporations are ripping us off,” she said. “They don’t care what they’re putting in their products. Even if they get sued and have to recall their products, they have insurance that pays for that. As long as they’re not losing anything, they don’t care. Most of us, our plates are so full. Even when we have a complaint about something like Miracle Grow, we’ll just get a refund and let it go. People don’t know where to complain or how.”

Sharrett hopes other consumers will help stand up against the trash in what should be a clean product.

“If we don’t as a community and human beings fight for each other against these corporations that have nothing to lose, we’re never going to win,” she said.