This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
We find the following in an English paper: "Dr. Lowe, New York, has recently tested a sample of earth eaten by the Ainos, or aborigines of Japan. Several pounds of the earth are mixed with the bulbs of Japanese lilies and boiled into a thick soup, which is reputed very palatable by the Ainos. Dr. Lowe rinds it to be a silicious earth, in composition closely resembling other earths eaten in Java and in Lapland. It contains less than one per cent, of nutritive matter He appears to think, and we have no doubt he is right, that the unctuous feel of these earths originally suggested the idea of their nourishing qualities, and, once commenced, the eating has become a confirmed, and in most cases a diseased, taste." We suspect this is simply some newspaper reporter's story, who was desirous of earning his money by getting up a novel paragraph. The earth which comes to this country around the roots of Japan lilies is placed there by the Japanese to prevent evaporation. These bulbs, so treated, come in excellent fresh condition.
Some of this material was given by the editor to one of the leading microscopists of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, who reported that the organic materials had been added to the earth, for the purpose of binding it; just as in grafting clay the old school added horse droppings or cut straw. The idea of making an " infusion" of any "silicious" material for soup, is especially rich, whatever richness the soup may have.