Should we leave Amish and their outhouses alone?

Amish in Hardin County, Ohio are embroiled in an outhouse controversy that’s been percolating for the past year (more details here).

Amish are balking at requirements that new homes have a “proper well”, paid waste removal, and septic system. Common practice in this community is to spread outhouse waste on the fields.

Health and environmental concerns are the reasons given for enforcement.

Interestingly, old homes are not subject to the requirements, which authorities said they would start enforcing last year.  Only newly built homes are.  Two recently-built homes do not comply.

If the owners don’t get with the program, they will be evicted.  A load of Amish are expected today at a Board of Health appeal at Kenton City Hall:

“They think they’re fighting three of us, but they aren’t,” Hershberger said as he stood among the construction materials outside his house last week. “We stand as one community.”

The families haven’t hired lawyers, even though the next step if they lose this appeal will be Common Pleas Court. Hershberger said he doesn’t want Tuesday’s meeting to be confrontational.

“Seems to me, there ought to be some kind of compromise,” he said. “We’ll let them give their sixpence, and then we’ll see where we stand. But I can tell you this: I’m not moving.”

An issue too ugly?

This sounds like a determined community.  The authorities sound determined too. “The health board has bent over backward for these people” says the Hardin County prosecutor, a comment which seems to reveal no small level of frustration.

Amish Outhouse Waste
Hardin County. Outhouse waste final destination

Are non-Amish rallying to the Amish cause right now?  I’m not sure, but I doubt it. Unlike selling raw milk or controlling your child’s education, human waste disposal is an icky subject, and hardly captivating.

So I’m skeptical as to the Amish people getting their way here.  Though perhaps a compromise could be reached.

Why not everybody?

Speaking of which, the way the law is now being enforced seems like a compromise itself, but a peculiar one.  If this practice is such a hazard, why not prohibit it for “old” homes too?

One of the Amishman under fire claims to have had his water independently tested, and that it was graded to be safe.  So is the health hazard as dire as suggested?

I thought of one possible argument in favor of the grandfather clause: perhaps cumulative environmental impact will escalate as more homes are built.  Thus the enforcement on new building only, to control the traditional practice at current levels.

I don’t know if that makes sense.  Readers in the know on this sort of thing, let us know.

Where do your sympathies lie?  Should the Hardin County Amish and their outhouses be left alone, or should they get with the program?

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    1. Tom in KY

      Interesting, I too wonder if this practice is harmful for the environment then why only ban new homes. On another note the Amish in KY may have some help when challenging local laws, according to a new law just passed if a person can show a sincere religious objection to a state law then they do not need to follow that state law. With that kind of vague language it will be interesting to see what becomes of this.

      1. Tom in KY

        Im sorry the law still needs to be voted on again to overcome the Governors veto, but support looks strong and perhaps we will know by today if this bill does indeed become law.

    2. Robert Lewis Gschwind

      The modern world is the problem not the answer. The Amish (and English) have used outhouses forever. There were still places in southeastern Ohio through the 70’s whose primary plumbing was a pump and outhouse. Waste from out houses urdelates through the soil. It is a natual filter. The Amish understand this and place their facilities in such a way as not to contaminated the ground water. They are some of the best sanitation engineers on the earth. Being from Ohio, I believe as in all things government, the heald departmrent is the problem, and they are trying to prove they can force anyone to do anything.

    3. Karen W

      This is just another example of “government” trying to rule & control people. Us “moderns” seem to have an overwhelming desire to make “everyone” think & act exactly like we do, if not, you’re wrong & we’ll “force” you to comply. The Amish are the latest “target”. We “English” have been trying to force them to comply to “our” standards for almost 100 years, this issue is just the latest, look at “school” issues, until 1972. We (us english) don’t have all the right answers, even though we think we do. I think we moderns need to back up & leave them alone. We’ve done enough damage. Just my 2 cents.

      1. Cynthia Lester


        Leave these people alone.

    4. Sarah Lynch


      Our cabin in Colorado had a composting toilet which I would empty on the ground out back…the wild flowers back there loved it. ..several national parks I’ve visited have composting toilets too (that’s what gave us the idea) maybe they could compost their waste as a compromise…just a thought.

    5. Debra

      “The health board has bent over backward for these people” says the Hardin County prosecutor, a comment which seems to reveal no small level of frustration.
      THESE PEOPLE??? Prosecutor sounds like an Atheist to me. Where are the documented cases of disease,pestilence and sanitation problems directly resulting from the Amish way of dealing with sewage? Where are the sick,dying and dead from their “groundwater contamination”?
      Yet, meanwhile,government officials turn a blind eye to “fracking” as it contaminates ground water. They strain at gnats and swallow camels.

    6. Lily

      There is a book out called “The Humanure Handbook” by Joseph Jenkins. It’s an interesting read.

    7. State Law in PA

      Legal definition of outhouse is on a property that includes an indoor pressurized water system. With no pressurized system it is called a Privy.
      Over 10 acres in PA is exempt from septic regulations. (They can have a cesspool or in-ground system without testing) Also a structure without pressurized water system is exempt. (on an acre or more) Townships have ordinances against new outhouses or privys, existing systems can be used.

    8. Dale

      Why not everybody?

      Well, because codes change over time and it would bring an undue hardship on the community if every time the code changed all buildings in the community had to be brought up to current code. If you live in an older house just look at the placement of electrical outlets at home and compare that to a new build.

      That’s how my relatives in Smith Center Kansas lived their whole life on the farm with an outhouse instead of a toilet. As soon as the folks got too old to stay out there (in the late 70’s) and needed to move to town the privy was pushed over and indoor plumbing was put in so the house could be brought up to current code so it could be sold.

      But I’m wondering if in this age of water conservation what argument could be made about flushing human waste vs converting it into fertilizer.

      1. What's the basis for the change?

        The follow-up question I would then have is why is the code changing or what has motivated them to enforce it? In this case there was apparently a complaint made by someone calling the health department last year. Is there a sound scientific basis, or are we appeasing the opinion of a vocal minority with a delicate sensibility?

        Don’t get me wrong, I am open to there being a scientific rationale, but it seems that when a practice is in place for a long time and changes are disruptive the onus is on the ones doing the changing to justify why. Has that been established?

        1. Dale

          What's the basis for the change?

          The basis is that there is benefit found in the change, or harm found if the change is not made. Buidling codes always change after earthquakes, major fires and huricanes because the engineers get in there and find out what failed and find ways to make things stronger and safer.
          Without all the facts I would assume that this issue may be based on the population density and concern about water quality. If your next door neighbor is using a privy that is 15 feet from your property line and you are using a well you may be more concerned with them than the family that lives 40 acres away.
          Septic systems would seem to be the answer but your have to have the right kind of soil and the right size lot to make one work AND you have to avoid any surface water and pay attention to the water table. They don’t recommend planting a vegetable garden over the top of them either.
          It will be interesting to see what comes of this issue. I hope you post updates.

          1. Thanks for the response on this Dale. I can understand some might have concerns, but I’m just curious if this has actually been backed by something tangible showing a reason for concern. It seems there could always be more benefit, but does it measure up to the cost involved.

            I could see this being an issue if there were a lot of expansion going on, but the area where the Amish live still seems pretty rural…I was just glancing through my photos from my visit to this community 2 years ago.

            More concretely, the Hardin County population (around 32,000 in 2010) grew just 0.4% from 2000 to 2010, a decent chunk of which would be Amish. Assuming nothing has changed to cause a boom in the last 2-3 years, it doesn’t seem like that would be the issue, unless there’s been a big shift out of the towns for some reason.,_Ohio

            I’m speculating, but this brings to mind comments I’ve heard from other Amish about people from the city moving to the country, then raising a lot of complaints about the smell or the dust. I’ve only read of the one complaint here, perhaps there were others. I’m not saying there is no issue here, but I also know that rural/suburban expectations can clash.

            Will try to post any updates that appear on this.

    9. Debbie

      This is a perplexing problem. Some of the previous comments make sense. Grandfathering in, larger population, etc.

      Where is the science? Look at 3rd world countries where over population and lack of sewer facilities creates health and environment problems. Plus other environmental studies have been done in areas where no Amish live. Why wait until disease and pollution are a problem. The Amish moved to other areas partly because of no land available. Also, I was under the impression that Amish were environmentally conscious.

      Of course none of us writing here know what all the discussions have been. Did the “government” offer environment and health studies? Did they offer a compromise of compost toilets or any other?

      And the wild flowers flourishing from human waste compost? Yes, but I do not want to eat vegetables grown from that compost. Science has definitely shown that is not healthy fertilizer for human food. That is why I never by produce from Mexico. They have a history of using human waste for fertilizer.

      Yes there is over regulation by government. But we tend to support that regulation when we agree with it and when we benefit from it.

      I could go on and on but I probably have said to much and upset some already. I only add this one thing. Maybe we should all just be still and listen for our creator’s opinion in this controversy.

      1. Why do the Amish object to sewage regulations?

        I also find it interesting that this has become a battleground for the Amish in this community at this point in time. For that matter I am still not clear on their argument against it, whether it is religiously-based or something else.

        From what I’ve read, their line of argument sounds more like someone upset by having to comply to the regulations, rather than someone making a principled stand on conscience (the assumption if Amish are involved is typically that religious conviction must be too…but maybe not always).

        If the same “resistance” energy was being consumed by state pressure to consolidate schools or the threat of military service, would this issue slip by unopposed? In other words is this the equivalent of a “first world problem” for the Amish?

        That’s not to say that I’m not sympathetic to their situation.

      2. Debra

        Our Creator HAS spoken on the subject. He has allowed the Amish a nation where they can live “off the grid” unmolested…a human experiment, as it were. We had ALL better allow them to continue, in peace because one day……..we may need them to help us pick up the pieces of a nation that has experienced unspeakable catastrophe (i.e. nuclear attack,electromagnetic pulse attack,New Madrid fault earthquakes, etc.). Their religion exists of living outside the normal confines and parameters of society.They keep to themselves,don’t force their religious beliefs on anyone,want as little as possible to do with government and respect the earth. They don’t need Obamacare or Social Security. Leave them alone.

        1. Dave

          I respect & like your specifics, and the over arching simple, living & godly culture. However, Amish farms have damaged the Chesapeake aquafer & water shep with manure run-off, and the privy issue seems like more of same. Amish have to work with local and state authorities. Just like they pay properrty tax, but rarely go to school.

          1. Dave Seems to me Pa. has bigger fish to fry than the Amish.


    10. Sara Mandal-Joy


      I don’t much like your poll, since my answer would be “none of the above” but you don’t give that option.

      1. Sara, feel free to write in which issue that would be here, or just “none of the above”. I probably should have suggested that above.

        These are three of the most prominent public Amish controversies of the past couple years. I’m mainly interested in the relative feeling about each one.

    11. Anne, the mom!

      water problems

      We’ve had lots of frustrations over the clean drinking water issue. When Ed first joined the Amish, he lived with a family who had ONLY spring water. He quickly developed giardia (we think) due to parasites in the water. He continues to have problems with this, and only antibiotics will clear it up for him.

      I’m mailing him more antibiotics today for this problem and it will be the 3rd time since he joined. Yes, he now has a good well (up in MN one has no choice!), but when he visits other families, he’s having to drink what they use.

      It’s also of note that the first family he lived with lost their wife/mother due to something these Amish never could figure out. She had extreme digestive stress and lost weight until she died. I think there may be a link to the terrible water they drink, and feel very sad that this is not taken seriously by many of these communities, when it’s a relatively easy fix.

      1. Lattice

        Hi Anne, the mom.

        Sorry that Ed’s sick. I’ve had it a couple of times from drinking contaminated water, too. The antibiotics that treat Giardia infection are really kind of bad for you. Have him take Garlic pills and Goldenseal Root Extract (make sure it’s extract, it’s stronger). It will gradually improve, and resolve it within a week or two. Any time he fears he ingested bad water, have him treat prophylactically for a couple of days. That prevents the little guys from taking up residence. I never have any more trouble with it that way.

        Most people who have had Giardia a few times, or else who regularly drink infected water, build up a resistance, of sorts, or else they have a chronic infection without any of the acute symptoms. Now, a doctor will tell you that it must be treated with antibiotics, but if Ed is going to continue to be re-exposed (like me) he might as well go another route. Good luck.

    12. Rose

      Yes, leave them alone

      I think Debra said it best; they strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. I bet this issue would just ‘go away’ if the Amish were like the fracking industries or the factory farms. Hmmmm….do the factory farms flush their waste down their nice sewage systems, hormones and all?

    13. Anne, the mom!

      water problems

      One more thing…we collected this drinking water Ed first used, and had it tested. Virginia Tech said it was not safe to even swim in!

      1. Good for Ed and everyone else involved that they got to the bottom of this Anne. Maybe the answer in this and similar cases is testing to catch these cases if and when they occur. Not sure of the expense involved, but I’d bet it smaller than the proposed upgrades.

        1. Debbie

          Eric, why would you wait until people were sick or water was already contaminated to stop polluting?

          1. I wouldn’t wait until people were sick, but can you tell me where is the pollution of water happening now? In other words, I hear “concerns” cited, but is there a basis for this? I’m not just picking on anybody by asking, if it’s out there it would be useful to hear about it.

            Maybe someone has run some tests showing water quality problems or maybe a lot of subdivisions have gone up near Amish farms outside Kenton resulting in a basis for concerns (possible, but see my above comment to Dale…looks like Hardin County’s population is hardly growing). So far the only thing I’ve heard about is Amishman Joni Hershberger’s test, which apparently shows safe water.

            It’s not pleasant to think about, but animal waste (and even human in this case) is regularly used on fields. I’d call it fertilizer before I’d call it pollution.

            So to reword the question, I am not saying wait until people are sick, I am saying you could monitor water with regular testing if there is really a basis for concern.

    14. stephanie

      Are these Swartzentruber Amsih? Here in Holmes county, every Old order person I know has indoor plumbing. We bought an Old order house and have W nice large bathrooms. I dont know. Spreading the waste on the fields? Yuck! But English farmers do that too. They actually buy it! My husband said as a kid their neighbor’s field stunk to high heaven and had all kinds of horrible things laying around. That was Ashland county. Not sure what the fuss is about

      1. They’re not Swartzentruber Amish Stephanie but they’re pretty conservative.

        They have a rather unique buggy style, where they don’t use the SMV triangle either, but do use a box pattern of silver reflectors on the back. Here is a photo I took of one:

    15. Margaret

      I don’t know if the Bishops would permit the use of filters but some are simpler to make than others. It could help on picking up nasty bugs. The tv show the colony showed one. Several layers of sand and crushed charcoal. It could help. There are also hand held filters that you pump. My sister has one she uses on hikes.

      As disgusting as it sounds all that solid waste does break down and makes good fertilizer. Not sure about human but I know my dad taught me tht horse makes the bet fertilizer.

      I can understand the reluctance. If the Amish involved “cave” on this how much more will be forced on them? It’s simple. Amish really want to be left alone to live and practice their religious freedoms as granted before our Conctitution was ever written. It’s part of their First Amendment Rights.

      I have a horse advocate friend who is embroiled in legal battles over First Amendment access to see the Wild Horses and Burros at roundups. Our Government refuses her access even after ordered to do so by the Courts. This case was referred back to the presiding Judge in NV.

      I believe it’s worth the Amish lawyers time to review this case. We were actually able to get new law written. It being part of First Amendment it might prove useful.

      I know Amish want to stay Plain. I respect that. It’s one reason I read Amish fiction. If a sound reasonable compromise can be had with both sides giving–everyone might feel better. I’m not saying super filters, super flush bathrooms. I don’t know enough about all the science etc. guess I just feel that rather than government coming in and forcing folks–why not talk, chat, let the Amish see and truly understand. Instead of cramming their ideas down the throats of everyone regardless of feelings.

    16. Don Curtis

      Amish Outhouses

      Hmmm. Seems like Amish relieving themselves is not a relief to Hardin County officials. Pardon the pun. It was very intentional. I asked my son, Mark, about it. He says that in his community all the homes have indoor plumbing. However, all three of the schools have outhouses. Also, a number of Amish homes have old outhouses way out back that are still in use, especially by the menfolk coming in dirty from the fields or women out working in the garden and they’re close. But the Belle Center outhouses are not pit toilets. They have containment tanks for the waste. When the tanks are full then a waste hauler is called. The tanks are pumped out. The waste is hauled away to a waste treatment facility and disposed of safely. Mark feels that the Hardin County Amish need to do this, too. It doesn’t say in the Bible that you have to poop in a hole in the ground to be saved. Also, it is not a good witness to the world to be so intransigent on issues like this. Mark told me that a teacher friend of his related a similar incident that happened near her Ashland County, Ohio home. The Amish family in that situation built their outhouse on a stream bank so that the outhouse projected over the stream and the waste just dropped into the stream. Again, the Amish got all riled up when confronted about it by the Health Department. Claimed religious persecution. Mark wasn’t Amish back when this happened and related the incident to one of his Belle Center Amish friends. This friend replied. “Well, Mark, you don’t have to poop in the creek to prove that you’re Amish.” To summarize; Mark feels that if the Hardin County Amish can have outhouses that conform to the health regulations and just refuse to do so then they are in the wrong. He doesn’t know about spreading human waste on the fields. If the fields are not used for human consumption like vegetables in the garden then it might be alright. But, Mark says, he doesn’t want to be the one driving the manure spreader.

    17. Debbie

      Amen to that

      Mark seems wise to me. Yes people buy and use animal manure for food but not human manure. The Hardin County Amish seem to me are not modeling Peace. They are professing to live as Jesus instructed but I haven’t seen where this fits in. Is it peace, patience justice or the greatest of these love that they are modeling as a conviction?

      1. I realized I’ve got two lines of commentary going here, that sort of go in opposite directions. One is about regulations–let’s have them if needed, but let’s try to make sure they’re needed, otherwise we may be unnecessarily burdening people with mouths to feed (English people included).

        The other is wondering what the basis for Amish kickback is here. Is there a reason besides just not wanting to comply because this is the way we’ve always done it (and of course the financial reason)? I think “the way we’ve always done it” is a stronger argument in some areas than others.

        I also think you can judge some struggles more integral to maintaining a way of life than others. Claiming religious persecution over outhouse issues as Mark says happened in Ashland County may be getting into “crying wolf” territory.

        1. Lattice

          According to some Amish friends, they wonder when the line will be drawn. Will the government continue to push until they’re all having to buy city water and use city sewer? I think it’s a valid concern.

          1. And I think that’s a good counterpoint. Even better if that concern is articulated well by someone from the community in these instances when there is a public spotlight on them.

        2. Debra

          Google “milorganite”. What the Amish are putting on their fields is pure gold. And young man, “progress” does not always infer moving forward. What will you do when you are old and no one listens to you about “the way we’ve always done it.” Once fracking has destroyed the ground water, there is no going back.

      2. Nadja

        Milorganite is human waste

        The highly touted, expensive, “environmentally responsible” Milorganite fertilizer is simply sewage solids.

        Personally, I just let my chickens running around in the yard take care of fertilizing my garden beds over the fall and winter. They’re happy to do so while they search out juicy bugs, mice, etc.

    18. Lattice

      First of all, human waste CAN be commercially purchased and spread on fields. What do you think happens to the solids that are removed at wastewater facilities? We have used human litter before, but we usually buy chicken litter – it’s cheaper, although I actually think it smells worse.

    19. Brad of the Brethren

      Eric, I have recently retired here to Ft Scott, Kansas and was thrilled to find, a small, yet thriving Amish community. And the exact same problem has arisen which has the town sharply divided and has led to hard feeling between the Amish and English communities. The town council has yet to amke any decissions as I think they are reluctant to get involved. After reading your posts these many months I belive the Amish to be Swartzentrubers but am not sure. Also another problem is the horse poop in the Wal-Mart parking lot. I hope these problems get resovled as I really enjoy the clip-clop of the bugies that go by !

      1. Thanks for sharing Brad, I remember that story popping up shortly after this one last year. Here’s the post we did on that one, maybe there is something of interest to you there:

        The other long-established Kansas Amish groups are fairly progressive so I’m sure a more conservative group gives a different perspective.

    20. Marcus Yoder

      Columbus,Ohio composts human waste with wood chips and sells it as a product called comtil for landscape and vegetables.
      Marcus Yoder

    21. I just recalled we had a post called “Waste Not” on Friday:

      I burned a good title a few days early, could have saved it for today 😉

    22. Jeannie

      Oh For Poops sakes

      In other countries like the Asian ones defecating in the fields is normal and they do it in the rice paddies .. that rice we eat…

      Here is another thing… What makes it any different than lets say animal fecal matter? wild or domestic.. I mean unless the sharmen bear actually uses a toilet I highly doubt he has once never pooped in the river… and how many kids gone swimming have never not peed in the swimming hole.. Does that water just miraculous stay there and not get seeped into the ground or carried up stream..

      Unless there is absolute reasoning and proof that the water is contaminated then let them be…

    23. Alice Majka

      Oh, ...poop!

      Spreading human waste on a field is different than waste that has naturally leeched through a septic system doing the “fertilizing” naturally. All I know is that over the past couple of years, there have been illnesses in the general area (salad greens were one common thread) caused by fecal matter. About 15-20 yrs ago, a local restaurant (the kind that also hosts banquets, weddings—a nice place, not a dive) had recurring problems that were traced to human fecal matter—staff were not washing their hands after using the bathroom. (Sure, it could be that someone purposely got human fecal matter in the food—as disgusting as it sounds, but the point is, it was still human feces that sickened dozens of people over several months. The place was shut down, cleaned, re-opened, but within less than a year, same problem.

      Again I must bring up the fact that this type of intestinal illness (caused by fecal matter) can be deadly to people with leukemia, cancer, or others with “compromised” immune systems. I wouldn’t want to subject any of these people to severe illness or death just because “that’s how we always did it”. Well, maybe that’s why so many families, communities, eventually died out…they couldn’t get with the benefits of “civilization” (true health benefits—like washing hands after using the bathroom, or during cold & flu season.)

      I agree with Mark Curtis & others who opt for the more “modern” septic system, with ground water contamination considered when installing the system.

      Alice Mary

      1. Debra you think going after the Amish will make all food handlers wash their hands after they defecate? Good luck with that.

    24. Tracy

      Should we leave Amish Outhouses alone?

      I really myself used an outhouse for years and don’t see a problem with it!! I think people should be aloud to use them, especially the Amish, it’s line everyone trying to make the Indians run, why be so picky!!! These people have their beliefs and their life, let them live how their God sees fit!! And if there’s freedom of speech, let there be freedom of rights! Let these humans have human rights!! People need to quit with all the things that try to change the lifestyles of the Amish! I’ve seen people use buckets, at least a outhouse is cleaner!! And the cost if modern septics are very expensive, also they would not work for the plain living!! I guess they can just go in the trees!! Don’t take away their freedom, their lives, their way of living that God has chosen for them! Let them live the way they want to live! I like outhouses and think they should be aloud!! I for one can’t always make it into the house to the pot!! And a out house would be great out on a farm, it the trees would be the place, you gotta go when you gotta go, it’s a natural thing,, I don’t see animals using toilets and there’s a lot of nasty dog, cat, rabbit, chicken crap etc. next they will need a legal septic. Also I am a legal septic installer, I’ve seen poor people that can’t feed their family’s and borrow money, they can’t pay back to install a legal septic, it’s ok for some, but I really think that. The outhouse should also be an ok deal for the Amish or even a poor person!!

    25. Debra

      I love my country…not because of our government, but because of our people, rich with diversity;combining their knowledge and experience for the good of all.This is that thing called “American Exceptionlism”…not arrogant nor snobbish…just fact.In hindsight, some of our “wars” are just plain dumb. Johnson’s War on Poverty,Reagan’s War on Drugs,Bush’s War on Terror.Wars never won,but constantly fought. A good lawyer for the Amish would merely require that the county PROVE with documented evidence how the Amish septic system is causing death,disease and other problems.They need a good lawyer or they need Erin Brockovitch who will sniff out these county government people to find out where their interests really lie. Leave the Amish alone.

      1. Sara Mandal-Joy

        “Leave the Amish alone.”

        Amen to that…. It feels to me like we are so so
        culture-centric. We assume we know everything, have all the answers, that we “know” science and science rules. We know so very very little about our world.
        Here are folks attempting to live simply with God and Nature. is it perfect? No, of course not. But a necessary balance I believe to mainstream way of life.
        I am so tired of hearing judgments made with nothing to back them up, just assumptions, just preconceptions, habitual ways of thinking and doing from “our” culture. There is far more in and of life than we know or understand. Could someone have a polluted spring? yes, more likely from the upstream (underground) factory or mainstream agriculture poisons than from the outhouse remains. Manure (of any kind, including humanure) if laid in the sun covered with straw, dry grass, leaves, etc. will turn into rich nutrients faster than we can come up with a new rule governing how “s—” is to be controlled. Sigh… can we please try to stop deciding what is right and wrong about another way of life. Once we’ve “fixed” our own lives and culture than – dealt with the mote in our own eye, then we can maybe look beyond… Whatever the Amish are doing with their wastes is NOT what is damaging our water and air. WE, mainstream culture, are responsible for that. My 2 cents. Sara

        1. Rose

          You are so right Sara! And if all of you think that human waste is not used on the food sold in your local grocery, think again–it’s done by factory farms and it’s legal.

    26. Don Curtis

      Human waste

      I’ve already posted Mark’s thoughts on this situation. One thing that kind of bugs me about this is that so much pressure is being put on the Amish because of an outhouse. Yet these oil companies can pour poisonous chemicals into the soil by the tons and that’s safe? They say it’s being injected deep into the ground but isn’t that where the well-water comes from. Another thing that bugs me is that such a big deal is made about human waste on the fields. A great deal of the food sold in the supermarkets comes from out of the country: Mexico, Brazil, China, and Lord knows where all else. Who knows what they’ve got on their fields. I read an article where they were investigating Chinese fish farms. They were combination chicken and fish farms. The chicken’s cages were on top of the fish tanks. The chidkens’ poop fell in the fish tanks and that was the fish’s food. Yumm! Remember that next time you have a nice tilapia fillet in a restaurant.

      1. Sadie

        Don, that was one of my first thoughts on the subject, honestly, the fact that it is not just Amish farmers who do this. I joke about it, but I don’t truly mean anything had toward them. All kinds of things are on and in foods of all kinds now, imported and even domestic, it’s just that the general public rarely hears of it, except in cases like this or during e-coli outbreaks and such. I mean, it’s a way of advertising now, if the chicken you buy at a grocery store was fed an appropriate diet for chickens, and it’s not that long ago now that cows weren’t being fed feed made up in part from other dead cows or pigs ( I can’t quite recall ).

        And I’d guess that most family farms worked exactly the way the Hardin Co. Amish farms being condemned worked, before society changed and urbanized.

        But still, I think it’d be nice if the bishops up there would agree to the regulations. It just seems like a “fight” they are not going to win.

      2. Don I write this response through chuckles…I find myself simultaneously repelled yet somehow admiring the cold efficiency of the chicken poop-fish setup you described. But yes, that’s pretty gross, so I think I will pass on the tilapia 🙂

    27. Debra

      When I visited my brother in law in an upscale Gainesville,Fl neighborhood, there was an odor than permeated the air and nearly ruined our front porch visit.His landscaping is manicured by the finest professionals. When I questioned the repugnant odor, he replied, “Oh that’s milorganite”. I said, “What’s that?” He said it was treated sewage and the smell would dissipate in a few days, but it was THE BEST fertilizer he’d ever had on his lawn and flower beds.
      But it was more expensive than traditional fertilizer.
      Milorganite is a fertilizer created from treated sewage sludge, but it still stinks.
      That’s not all that stinks when I consider what this county is doing to the Amish.
      Follow the money, always.

    28. Nadja

      Composting toilets

      Why not just build and use composting toilets? That eliminates the health hazard, and does not require the Amish to buy expensive, stinky commercial fertilizer – especially the “sewage fertilizer” promoted by the eco-activists that has a rather high level of heavy metals due to various urban waste products.