The health department is OK with bare feet; why isn’t Asheville?

Of all the places I've lived, Asheville is the most progressive and open-minded, and that's one of the things I love about it. So I find it disturbing how much anti-barefoot sentiment there seems to be among local businesses.

I avoid wearing shoes whenever possible, for reasons of health, comfort and convenience. Yet many local businesses — such as the French Broad Food Co-op, Rosetta's, and even Firestorm Cafe, to name a few — ask me to leave if I arrive without shoes. These are all wonderful and very progressive businesses, which is why I am perplexed by these ridiculous and arbitrary rules.

I can't count the number of times I've been told, "Sorry, there's a health department regulation" or something like that. Not true. There is no such rule in North Carolina, or any other state. Go ahead, ask them. In fact, there is no law or rule of any kind, in any state, requiring that shoes be worn in public places, businesses or restaurants.

Somehow people have the idea that bare feet are unsanitary or unsafe. There is no rational reason to support this myth: The rubber soles of shoes, full of crevices, hold far more dirt and bacteria than the smooth bottom of a foot. Most dirt that does get on your feet gets brushed off in a few steps. And unlike the moist, dark, hot, anaerobic environment inside a shoe (a perfect breeding ground for bacteria), bare feet are exposed to ultraviolet light, oxygen and moving air, so they stay clean and dry. And in any case, you're eating with your hands, not your feet, and food isn't being served on the floor.

As far as glass, the few times I've encountered broken glass, it has been easy to to step around; and while running, I have intentionally stepped on broken glass just to prove how minuscule a risk it is. Remember that the skin is thicker on the bottom of your feet than anywhere else. Finally, every medical study ever done on the subject has shown that bare feet are far less susceptible to many diseases and injuries.

I'm not some primitivist or anti-establishment hippie. I just think policies should be based on reason, not irrational taboo. Business owners have the right to make whatever rules they wish. But when I'm spending my hard-earned money, more of it will go to those that don't discriminate against bare feet.

— Daniel Africk


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153 thoughts on “The health department is OK with bare feet; why isn’t Asheville?

  1. Asheville Dweller

    Asheville one of the most progressive towns they have ever lived in? Wow someone doesnt get out much, there isn’t much progressive about this little town.

    In reality this town is really ordinary and par for the course unless you think everyone agreeing with everyone is progressive?

    Its not progressive, its called Status Quo . . . . .

    And get over yourself and wear some sandals or something, its called hygine.

  2. Yeah whatever

    I’ve lived in nearly every state and truly Asheville is absolutely progressive and more open-minded than nearly anywhere else, except maybe Key West Fl.
    Go barefoot!! You have every single right to do so.
    Sure, hygiene is an issue, but your own personal one and no one can force you to wear shoes. The catch is that a private business has every right to enforce their own rules. Some consider it a liability issue and it’s too bad you’re the ‘squeaky wheel.’

    • Kieran Ex

      hygiene with bare feet is hardly an issue unless one claims to always wear gloves. I always find it interesting people saying bare feet is not clean while they pick their nose after handling money and opening doors. Bare feet are super clean compared to bare hands.

    • C

      What moron seems to think wearing no shoes is okay. A list of diseases you can catch on numerous get with it little Abner

  3. Trey

    Ding..ding..ding!! We have a wiener!


    In this land of the utterly incompetent, where people like to sue for their coffee being too hot, businesses have to cover their own butts by enforcing some silly rules.

    You could stub your toe, hot coffee(imagine) could get spilled on your bunion, an employee could drop a sheet pan of sugar cookies on your little piggie… and instead of crying wee wee wee all the way home… you could sue.

    Plus there is the psychosomatic response to seeing bare feet… and nobody wants to smell foot funk, real or imagined, when they are having lunch, brunch, dinner, futon shopping, bead browsing, or discussing tiny hats.

    • Kieran Ex

      No business Liability insurance in the entire world requires customers to wear shoes as there is no Liability without gross negligence, in which case the business is Liable regardless of shod status.

    • Mr. Check

      The Hot Coffee incident was not about hot coffee, it was about scolding hot coffee that McDonalds was cited about multiple times and continued to violate the safety mandates. If you spill hot coffee on yourself, you might say ouch and get some redness, this super heated fluid burned near holes in the ladies lap, 3rd degree burns (if you have the stomach for it, you can search for The Truth About The McDonalds Hot Coffee Case and just look for images or read the articl, hell, there was a full movie about it). The trouble with barefeet is not what you’re laying down but in what you’re picking up. It’s the same reason you shouldn’t go flopping around on the floor of a public business (or at a wedding was actually what I was thinking of). The folks are absolutely correct about what is in the crevasous of your boots or sneakers, that’s not what you want to be getting into your body. IN my house, it’s shoes off, but that’s because there are no shoes on in the house. This is not anecdotal.

  4. A-ville fan

    Asheville is cool folks, and progressive. But everyone who thinks it’s unique in it’s progressiveness needs to go to the Pacific North West, or Norcal, or the Bay Area, ie Berkeley, San Fransisco, and Santa Cruz.

    Don’t get me wrong. I feel more at home in Asheville than anywhere else for a few states in any direction. But that’s just because we’re in the BIBLE BELT. It’s all subjective.

  5. Myranya

    I’ve been barefoot for more than thirteen years in Europe, and it’s never been any problem, from fastfood restaurants to upper class places, from hospitals to public transit, from leisure places to work (yes, including the job interview). While very few people go barefoot and it’s definitely not considered fashionable, most people here believe it’s a healthy habit, and ‘no shoes, no service’ signs are non-existent.

    The health thing is backed up by my own experiences; I used to be coughing and sneezing from early fall until late spring, but in my thirteen years of going barefoot I’ve called in sick once, for two days, and even a minor cough is rare.

    There is no hygiene issue with going barefoot; our skin is made to keep pathogens out, and we’re far more at risk of spreading germs with our hands than with our feet, because with our hands we touch our face and food. It should also be noted that even in the US, fellow barefooters report very little criticism and many positive comments from their doctors.

    About liability, that might be a point if sturdy, non-slip footwear were required. However places that have a ‘no bare feet’ rule have no problem with platform shoes or 5″ stiletto heels. Naming risk of dropping anything on your foot as a reason for banning bare feet is particularly silly, look at how many people wear flipflops all summer long -perhaps they wear a special kind of flipflop with an invisible force shield?

    And about the sight of bare feet, in flipflops you still see the entire foot, yet they’re allowed.

  6. Kriss

    Good letter, Daniel. It sounds like there hasn’t been much change in downtown Asheville since I wrote a similar letter back in 2007.

    I rarely get downtown myself, but I’ve found such issues as you describe very rare in businesses away from downtown – perhaps away from downtown is where the progressive and open-minded people are. Indeed you would think a place that is known for diversity and alternative lifestyle acceptance would not have businesses that discriminate against something so innocuous as ones attire.

    As to the places you mentioned, I was surprised that you had a problem at French Broad Food Co-op. Back in 2006, I was in there with my wife, and 3 different employees tried to tell me I couldn’t be there barefoot due to “the health law.” I told them they didn’t have a clue of what they were talking about, got the name of the general manager, and later called him. He agreed the employees knew nothing about what they were talking about and that they had been wrong to give me a hassle. He said I was welcome there barefoot any time and that he would give his employees some training in both health regulations and attitude towards customers. His name is Steve Watts; I just called the store and apparently he is still the general manager. Perhaps there are different employees working there now, as I haven’t had the opportunity to go back since then. Perhaps I should, just to see what happens.

  7. Myranya

    Yes, throwing on any kind of footwear with soles -however thin- is a big deal. I had in my message touched only on countering the arguments a business would have with bare feet, plus the health thing (as if that isn’t reason enough to keep at it!).

    But the most important reason why I started to go barefoot -the health thing I only discovered when year after year passed without my usual colds- is because it is absolutely wonderful to feel the ground underfoot. There are many different surfaces, even on what appears to be a boring sidewalk or mall. Walking around with even the thinnest soles is like visiting an art show wearing dark glasses, or a concert wearing ear plugs.

    Also your gait changes when you walk with a stiff sole like a flipflop. Perhaps if you’re used to being shod and take a few steps barefoot, you may not notice any difference, but those of us whose feet are always bare, we do! When I walk, I land with the ball touching just before the heel. The foot acts as a spring, it’s a light, easy-going way of talking. In shoes or sandals you have to land on the heel.

    Plus going barefoot is a very respectful way of walking on Mother Earth, although this is of less impact in a store or mall where the surfaces are all man-made and sometimes not even at ground level.

  8. shadmarsh

    With all due respect, I don’t think “Mother Earth” really gives a crap if you walk on her with shoes or not…

  9. Uh huh sure..

    I wear ear plugs at a concert so I don’t damage my hearing. It’s common sense. I wear shoes so I don’t damage my feet on rocks or man-made projectiles. It’s common sense. I don’t get colds because I wash my hands, eat healthy and avoid sick people. It’s common sense. But, ya know, some people just don’t have any these days. Vote Shadmarsh for Mayor yo!

  10. shadmarsh

    I still think this thread (and last years version) is a sign that the Apocalypse is nigh.

  11. travelah

    shadmarsh doesn’t respect dirt and that makes him the most qualified candidate for whatever office he wishes to trash.

  12. shadmarsh

    In all seriousness– if such a phrase can even be applied to this “discussion”– What rubs my rhubarb is the demand that we take their own personal idiosyncrasy and elevate it to the level of cause. Not to mention the utterly baseless (and perhaps idiotic) claim that somehow not wearing shoes will keep you from getting a cold or the flu.

  13. brebro

    There seem to be many studies suggesting that wearing shoes is unnatural and antithetical to evolution’s strides in human foot design. While I am too scared to even get my mail without shoes, if The Foot publishes it, it could be true.

    “Last year, researchers at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, published a study titled “Shod Versus Unshod: The Emergence of Forefoot Pathology in Modern Humans?” in the podiatry journal The Foot. The study examined 180 modern humans from three different population groups (Sotho, Zulu, and European), comparing their feet to one another’s, as well as to the feet of 2,000-year-old skeletons. The researchers concluded that, prior to the invention of shoes, people had healthier feet.”

  14. Danny boy

    Great letter Daniel. I hope you never spend any of your money in places that don’t welcome barefeet. You brought up some great points, but no matter how many great points you get out there, there is still going to be some Prudes telling you to cover your feet. It’s sad that people even care.

  15. useurhead

    Is throwing on a pair of flip flops a big deal? Is wearing a hair net every time you walk into a restaurant a big deal? Is wearing gloves everytime you enter a business a big deal? If you are so concerned about bacteria, virus’s or decency then why aren’t you worried about people covering their face with their hands when they cough, then touching door handles, hand rails, elevator buttons, money, then touching a product on a shelf that you may pick up and buy. Or touching a ladel in a salad bar that you are going to touch when preparing your salad.

    Get over it. Google the many studies which show how much bacteria is in a shoe or flip flop or the damages which occur to feet by wearing shoes, flip flops, and high heals. Is walking barefoot really that bad????

  16. (Hm, last night’s comment never got placed, guess it was after office hours and didn’t get to moderation anymore)

    Shadmarsh, I don’t believe the Christian God exists, but I respect those who who chose to wear crosses or even nuns in full habit, and I certainly wouldn’t tell them their God won’t give a crap. Anyhow, as I said the religious/spiritual part is the least important of all reasons anyhow. The other reasons should really be enough.

    As for the claim bare feet prevent colds; that wasn’t a reason I started going barefoot. But as I said, I had colds all the time, ever since my teenage years, went to doctors, got various kinds of meds, nothing helped. These colds are gone now. No other lifestyle changes at the time. It may be coincidence but I’m not going to try it out :-)

    What I want to know is, why is it that your preference not to *see* bare feet should count for more than someone else’s preference to actually walk barefoot? First, when we have to wear footwear, we not only see it, but *feel* it as well. Second, while you may run into a barefooter at a business & may spot our bare feet, that would only be a brief moment of discomfort for you. On the other hand we as barefooters, to prevent such a brief moment of discomfort, would have to wear footwear all the time while in public (because we can’t know if/when we just might run into you). Sorry, but your request sounds pretty selfish!

  17. $$maker

    Liability….isn’t it a great thing. So, if I wear flip flops into a business and spill hot coffee on my foot, do the flip flops protect me? If not, would the business be liable for not making me wear something which offered more protection?

    Let’s say a lady is wearing high healed shoes for a special occasion or work. She hates them, they are uncomfortable but because of some shoe rule she has to wear them when entering a business instead of taking them off and entering barefoot. While wearing the high heeled shoes she looses her balance and falls, as often the case with that type of shoe. Is the store liable for making her wear an unsteady type of shoe as opposed to walking barefoot?

    Just curious. Could you forward insurance contracts issued to businesses which specifically state footwear must be worn in the insured establishment. Thanks Tray :)

  18. Trey

    FWIW I go barefoot pretty much everywhere all summer… I’m barefoot right now… but my flops alway ride around with me in my car just so I can chuck ’em on to go in a store, restaraunt, over-priced hipster doofus tiny hat store, what have you. I think of it as a courtesy to others who may not like my feet. Some people are just absolutely disgusted by feet… and I’ve seen quite a few banged up “bear claws” that I wouldn’t want next to my food.

    I don’t like to wear pants. Who does. My guys are much more comfortable hanging out in the breeze… and boy oh boy does mother earth not just love a good hang down. It’s natural. What’s the big deal. Haven’t caught a cold in weeks.

    Oh, and BTW, what do you guys do in winter. Are you averse to socks as well? Have your feet just naturally acclimated and become hairy to the point of sasquatch proportions? Like hobbits?

    And yes, every one of my comments is silly… like this whole thread.

  19. shadmarsh

    It’s not that I care about you going barefoot, I really don’t. It’s that you seem to care so much about it that is funny. How can you not see that?

    Also, I am just waiting for the renewed Rosa Parks comparisons.

  20. $$maker

    Ha Ha. I get your humor Trey and shadmarsh. I’m pretty much a full time barefooter. What I was wondering is, what difference does it make if someone chooses to walk barefoot as opposed to wearing shoes? There is very little harm by walking barefoot and sometimes shoes really go good with an outfit or shoes are more comfortable on a hot or cold day. So why care so much about what someone wears or doesn’t wear? Aren’t there more important things to worry about?

  21. $$maker

    Uh huh sure has alot of common sense because he wears shoes so as to not damage his feet on man made projectiles or rocks.

    When wearing some type of footwear makes us know better so that we are able to walk over rocks, glass, feces, needles and all other dangerous objects. I for one, when wearing footwear don’t walk over glass, feces, needles(never seen one on the ground), nails or any other bad object. I avoid them even when wearing shoes or flip flops.

    It seems to me that anyone who walks barefoot is more aware of their surrondings as apposed to someone who wears shoes and trops across glass and yucky things because he is wearing shoes, so must be using common sense.

  22. useurhead

    shadmarsh, I don’t want to make this a civil rights issue. Yet, what does it matter what someone is wearing or not wearing on their feet? Should people who are wearing flip flops or high heal shoes get kicked out of a business due to lack of protection or liability?

    What if the social norm changed tomorrow where people had to wear surgical masks and gloves. We wouldn’t want to pick up the nasty H1N1 virus or any other germs. You could decide not to wear a surgical mask and gloves, since there were no laws or regulations requiring them to be worn at all. But businesses and restaurants would give you a hard time if you patronized their store without them. Wouldn’t you be a little upset. Any how, you eat healthy, wash your hands, sneeze into the crook of your elbow (not your hands) and stay away from sick people. So what’s the big deal with a business telling you what you should wear and how to dress???? Is it their right even though there are absolutely no laws or regulations governing how a customer should dress???

  23. Kriss

    Trey wrote: “FWIW I go barefoot pretty much everywhere all summer… I’m barefoot right now… but my flops alway ride around with me in my car just so I can chuck ’em on to go in a store, restaraunt, over-priced hipster doofus tiny hat store, what have you. I think of it as a courtesy to others who may not like my feet.”

    That makes about as much sense as saying:

    “As a courtesy to others who may not like red shirts, I don’t wear one.”
    “As a courtesy to others who may not like tank tops, I don’t wear one.”
    “As a courtesy to others who may not like men wearing earrings, I don’t wear them.”
    “As a courtesy to others who may not like Democrats, I keep that a secret”.
    “As a courtesy to others who may not like rap music, I never let anyone hear me playing it.”
    “As a courtesy to others who may not like Jews, I’d never reveal that I am one.”
    “As a courtesy to others who may not like people of a different race, I don’t associate with anyone not of my race.”

    It could go on and on and on. These are just a few examples of some things that make up human differences in various ways (they don’t necessarily apply to me personally), but have no effect, negative or otherwise, on any other person. If some people “may not like my feet,” that is really their problem and their issue – sorry, I’m not going to reinforce their paranoia by showing any “courtesy” for it.

    “Some people are just absolutely disgusted by feet…”

    Yeah, some people are disgusted by a lot of things. Too bad. Nobody is guaranteed the right to not be disgusted over something they may happen to see when out in public.

    “I don’t like to wear pants.”

    You’ve talked about that before. So, what do you wear? Skirts? Just curious.

    “Oh, and BTW, what do you guys do in winter.”

    It all depends on the temperature and wetness of the surface we might be walking on. Most barefooters who’ve done it for a while can walk around in temperatures of 28 to 30 degrees, sometimes lower, without a problem, especially if it’s dry. Remember, the ground temperatures are usually warmer than the air temperatures. When toes start getting numb there’s danger of frostbite, so we would need to get them warmed up some way. As to snow, walking barefoot in the snow can be done for a while, all, again, depending on the actual temperature.

    “And yes, every one of my comments is silly… like this whole thread.”

    I don’t know; I thought you had some pretty good questions. As to the whole thread, silly or not, you sure seem to be enjoying it.

  24. So Shoe Me

    Oh man, this whole “debate” is cracking me up so much! Who knew bare feet could be such a point of contention?

    The next time someone from out of town asks me what Asheville is like, I’m just going to refer them to this page. Pretty much says it all.

  25. Piffy!

    [b]I don’t like to wear pants. Who does. My guys are much more comfortable hanging out in the breeze… and boy oh boy does mother earth not just love a good hang down. It’s natural. What’s the big deal. Haven’t caught a cold in weeks.[/b]

    Well, then fight the power, my friend, fight the power. Go pantsless. But don’t lash out at those who wish to go shoeless because you are not brave enough to do the same with your nether-regions.

    We are all in this fight against clothing together! We must make society conform to our standards, because we are being oppressed in the same way the Native Americans and Polish were.

    Fight the power!

    Seriously, don’t you people have any other pointless issues to debate?

  26. JWTJr

    Shadmarsh sounds like a conservative stifling others lifestyles. Did you switch parties?

  27. Ryan

    Looks like we’re choosing up sides here, so…

    I also go barefoot as much as possible, wherever possible, simply for the sheer enjoyment of it. And I’m not some counter-culture type either. I’m a college-degreed professional, specifically a CPA, as well as an Army veteran & Reserve officer.

    It seems to me that given the economic circumstances of late, & how so many businesses are struggling to stay afloat these days, it makes very little businsss sense to chase away paying customers simply based on footwear or the lack thereof, but if management feels that strongly about the issue, I will gladly take my bare feet & my green money to their arch-nemesis of a competitor.

  28. Trey

    All issues are pointless, and pointless to debate… because everyone has their mind made up about the given issue before the debate begins.

    I only wear tu-tus… maybe the occasional moo-moo.

    I am too courteous. It is a personal flaw I must work on. Screw everbody.

    I only enjoy the silly threads.

    I believe the “swine flu” is being spread by barefeets.

    I am super cerial you guys.

  29. Uh huh sure; while many things that are known as ‘common sense’ are true, it should be ‘common sense’ to keep your eyes open and check for yourself. Because sometimes, myths or other bunk slip in among all the good sense. First, bare feet are a *lot* stronger than most people think. They hold up surprisingly well, even on city streets and manmade surfaces, and injuries are very rare, even minor ones.
    And secondly, there are many kinds of footwear that can be risky, yet no one feels the need to protect wearers of high heels, platforms or slick-soled dress shoes against their choice of footwear. No, it’s only bare feet that are ‘unsafe’. How is that common sense?

    Trey, about pants -pants cover private parts, and just a string won’t do when you go shopping. Feet are not private parts, and the narrow strap of a flipflop is somehow enough to ‘cover’ them in places requiring footwear.
    And yes, I do go barefoot in winter. Again, feet are stronger than they appear. By dressing warmly from the ankle up, I have gone barefoot even in snow and ice, without cold or numb toes.

    Shadmarch, keep in mind that my posts here are the only thing you’ve seen of me. Since today was my day off I looked in a few times throughout the day and replied to a few posts. But that only takes a few minutes total (I have decent typing speed :P). The rest of the day I did regular, everyday stuff & never even gave my (bare) feet a second thought. If that’s ‘caring so much it is funny’ then well, hope you have a good laugh :-D

  30. shadmarsh

    And to clear all this up, I don’t think anyone here is debating the merits of going barefoot, or saying you shouldn’t have the right to do it…we just think it is a bit of a strange thing to make an issue out of.

  31. useurhead

    shadmarsh, you and others who are degrading barefooting and telling us barefooters to wear shoes are making a big deal about this issue. Those of us who like to walk barefoot are only reponding to the myths you are spreading and comments on how we should dress. Really, who cares how we dress. It doesn’t affect you or anyone else. Lets worry about real issues.

    Trey, have fun wearing your tu-tu and moo-moo. I’m not going to tell you what to wear or make up some rule and/or myth about it. It doesn’t affect me personally.

  32. Daniel,

    That was a great letter. Thank you for standing up for yourself and others like you (like me). My knees are already screwed up from wearing shoes too much, yet I am not permitted to ease the pain in the best way possible. Perhaps someday the narrow minded will understand what perpetual shoe wearing has done to them.

  33. Eric

    This issue is important to me because of two reasons: Firstly, my barefooting is a huge part of my sense of touch. Forcing me to put on footwear is akin to jamming earplugs into my ears. It’s uncomfortable and it reduces my sensory abilities. Secondly, the no shoes policies contributes to the wrong idea that barefooting is unhealthy. This will lead more people to stick to their footwear, which studies have shown to deform feet, decrease their flexibility, increase risk of foot fungus, etc.

    It’s just sad that businesses in the US are so misinformed, following the no-shoes policy that began as a counter hippie movement while believing that barefooting is against the law or unhealthy (both false).

  34. vas

    Shadmarsh wrote: “we just think it is a bit of a strange thing to make an issue out of”

    I agree with you. Why should those businesses make an issue out of it?

  35. JWTJr

    “What rubs my rhubarb is the demand that we take their own personal idiosyncrasy and elevate it to the level of cause.”

    That sounds like it came off of the Limbaugh or Hannity shows. Maybe even Savage.

  36. Karma

    How is it strange to speak up against an unfair discrimination based on footwear? The strange thing is the unfair discrimination, not the reaction to it.

  37. Kriss

    Yeah whatever wrote, “Sure, hygiene is an issue…”

    Whenever there’s a discussion about going barefoot, the word “hygiene” always seems to come up. It’s just another one of those buzzwords, like “health code,” that always gets bandied about by foot-phobics who usually know little to nothing about what they’re talking about. (I’m not at all implying that Yeah whatever is a foot-phobic, but that’s where the word first appeared here.)

    Myranya wrote, “There is no hygiene issue with going barefoot…”

    She’s right. The relevant definition of hygiene as defined by Encarta dictionary is:

    “cleanliness: the practice or principles of cleanliness”

    However, in regard to bare feet and hygiene, I’m not sure what the issue is or how it really matters. Bare feet walking around naturally get dirty. Feet were created to make contact with the ground or other surfaces. There is nothing unhealthy or unsanitary about that, because bare feet, just like shoes, will always remain on the ground or floor, never touching anything else. Bare feet should be of no greater hygiene or health concern than someone’s shoes would be. In fact, bare hands, which touch practically everything, such as doorknobs, food, utensils, faces, mouths, noses, money, other people, etc. are much more problematic as to contracting or spreading infections or disease. And bare feet can be easily washed, unlike most shoes, which never get washed. Very few things are filthier and less hygienic than shoes, especially the inside of shoes.

  38. Kriss

    Brebro, thanks for posting that article. That is actually one of many similar articles out there that have come out in recent years, but that one is a very good and comprehensive one in regard to the health benefits of going barefoot versus the detrimental aspects of wearing shoes all the time. A lot of recent articles relate to barefoot running, which has gained in popularity in recent years as a healthy and natural alternative.

    But of course the point of the letter that started this discussion was not necessarily to convince anyone that bare feet are healthier than shod feet, but that the arbitrary discrimination regularly practiced by some businesses – usually based on misinformation or myth – is completely illogical, unreasonable, and unnecessary.

  39. Mister Blister

    You have to wear shoes and shirts and cover your butt and privates in restaurants. These are health codes. Yeah life sucks.

    • jbjwavmj

      @ Mister Blister “You have to wear shoes and shirts and cover your butt and privates in restaurants. These are health codes. Yeah life sucks.”

      U really think I have to wear shoes to cover my butt and privates ? lol

      Yes, I do realize the timestamp of this topic :) Unfortunately 6 years later arguments pro and con are still alive.
      Something changed in plus – the mainstream science now fully supports dependency between wearing shoes and development of feet fungus.

  40. Piffy!

    wow, mister blister–i think you might want to read the letter and thread again.

  41. useurhead

    I don’t think Mister Blister can read because obviously he hasn’t a basic clue about what the article says and the fact that there isn’t a single health code in the entire U.S. that states what a customer has to wear.

    As his name implies, he must wear shoes and probably ill fitting ones which would cause blisters. Life sucks when your feet are trapped in shoes.

  42. Kriss

    Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Maybe he can provide some code section references if he is so sure about that. Besides, what does covering your butt and privates have to do with feet anyway?

  43. Kriss

    Actually, health departments do not address what a customer wears at all, unless they are back in the kitchen or work area, where a customer is not supposed to be anyway. Health codes do have something to say about how an *employee* is attired – not a customer or patron of a business – any business, restaurant or otherwise.

    You would think that someone who runs or works in a place that sells food would have a better knowledge of actual health code requirements, rather than just going by and believing the myth they’ve always heard. Makes me wonder about some of these people who serve us food – what else about health regulations and requirements are they ignorant or misinformed about? Kind of scary in a way.

  44. Daniel Africk

    Thanks for all the comments. I appreciate the excellent points made by fellow barefooters, and
    also the willingness of those who disagree to at least engage in a dialogue.
    No, wearing sandals isn’t a huge deal, and I usually keep a pair in my car and backpack. I often put them on before entering a business that I know does not allow bare feet.

    But it is annoying when I’m turned away from a business and my sandals are in my car on the other side of town. It is frustrating to choose between the burden of carrying sandals everywhere
    I go, or be denied access to many businesses.

    I have nothing against shoes, they are very useful inventions. So are gloves, but I don’t wear those every day. I often where boots when backpacking, and on certain hikes. I usually wear
    shoes when trail running. But most of the time, I don’t need them, and walking is far more enjoyable and healthy without socks and shoes. Plus, it saves me time getting dressed in the
    morning, and I have less laundry to do.

    By the way, I do have hobbit feet. I often do walk barefoot in the winter. And my feet never
    smell, except when I’m forced to wear shoes for long periods of time.
    I’ve walked barefoot for many years, everywhere from New York City(lots of stares!) to Alaskan
    wilderness. In all this time, the closest thing to an injury I’ve ever had was a small splinter. Once.
    In comparison, when I used to wear shoes all the time, I constantly had painful ingrown toenails which required frequent medical treatment.

    One more thing- perhaps I am making a bigger deal about this issue than I need to. The fact is, it
    bothers me when people believe absurd myths, and I feel compelled to correct them. Just like
    when someone says “we only use 10% of our brains” or “turning off that light bulb uses more
    electricity than leaving it on”, I want to stop the spread of misinformation, especially when that misinformation leads to harm(such as wasting energy) or makes the lives of others more difficult(the anti-barefoot issue).

  45. Katy

    Nobody wants to see your ugly, stinky feet while shopping or eating. Get over it.

  46. Eric

    @Katy- Ugly feet come from people who wear shoes. It’s a correlation thanks to how shoes deform feet and promote athlete’s foot, toe corn, yellow toenails, etc. Also, stinky feet is caused by sweaty feet being muffled in shoes. Someone who doesn’t wear shoes would not have ugly or stinky feet.

  47. Karma

    Katy: Hello, troll!

    But just to give an answer anyway; feet that are trapped in warm, wet and dark shoes smell. Or rather, the marinade of bacteria and fungus that thrive in there. Feet that are usually bare are neither smelly or unhealthy for anyone. They’re usually not deformed from their natural strength and appearence like those forever molded and squished by shoes. Then again, even in old China people found deformed feet to be less ugly than natural ones, so…

    There aren’t really many who cares, so “nobody wants to see your ugly…” is just a load of garbage. The point however, before you say “so if no one cares why bother exclamation mark one one”, is that some DO care and put up restrictions without any other basis than “don’t like”.

    Which, by the way, is very different to other sort of dresscode that for example cover sexually “charged” body parts. That is a complete other discussion.

  48. Kriss

    Daniel, great to finally hear from you. I was wondering if you had been reading any of this stuff. That was really a great letter.

    I was also wondering, are you a member of the SBL?

  49. vas

    Katy wrote: “Nobody wants to see your ugly, stinky feet while shopping or eating.”

    Katy, how would sandals or flip-flops hide the sight or smell of feet? They cannot hide anything, and yet they are considered appropriate. Why?

  50. Kriss

    Katy, you raise some interesting issues. And precisely to prevent ugly feet or stinky feet is why some people have chosen to never wear shoes. As has been pointed out quite well by both Eric and Karma, feet damaged and deformed by shoes over time make them ugly; and feet contaminated by the sweat, dead skin cells, bacteria, fungi, and other filth that lives inside of shoes causes them to stink.

  51. travelah

    Start wearing open toe sandals and kick them off when you are at your table. Now if you start picking your toenails please don’t be surprised when you are asked to leave.

    What in ha’el gives you cause to think that your bare feet walking all over everybody elses nasty ‘bacca juice, spit, snot and whatever else oozes out of a congregation of ‘fards in downtown Asheville leaves them clean and acceptable to bring into anybody elses domain??

  52. vas

    travelah wrote: “Start wearing open toe sandals and kick them off when you are at your table.”

    How would those open toe sandals make a difference? You can still see the bare toes, can’t you?

    travelah wrote: “What in ha’el gives you cause to think that your bare feet walking all over everybody elses spit… leaves them clean and acceptable”

    Travelah, what gives you cause to think that the bottoms of your shoes walking all over everybody elses spit leaves them clean and acceptable?

  53. evolved

    to return to the barefoot health subject, i heard that the reason you stop getting sick while being barefoot all the time is because you have healthy worms that enter your body from the feet and literally eat sickness. Its a crazy world and everything’s backwards

  54. Karma

    travelah: Are shoes, usually with far more places for dirt to get stuck, immune to that “ooze” you are talking about?

  55. Travelah, People walk with shoes on all those things, and they’re welcome in those businesses. Fortunately there’s a very simple solution to tracking in dirt; it’s called wiping your feet, and it can be done barefoot also :-)

  56. Kriss

    Travelah wrote: “Now if you start picking your toenails please don’t be surprised when you are asked to leave.”

    I agree. Anybody that would pick his or her toenails at a dinner table deserves to be asked to leave.

    “What in ha’el gives you cause to think that your bare feet walking all over everybody elses nasty ‘bacca juice, spit, snot and whatever else oozes out of a congregation of ‘fards in downtown Asheville leaves them clean and acceptable to bring into anybody elses domain??”

    Assuming the stuff you mentioned is all over the place, as you seem to imply, are you saying that anyone wearing shoes would not be walking on the same stuff? What’s the difference?

    In fact, there is a difference, but probably not what you’re thinking. I certainly try to avoid certain things like chewing gum, dog poop, spit, or other obvious things that no one, shod or barefoot, would want to step on or get stuck to their foot. The thing is, there is a much greater chance of a shoe wearing person stepping on those things you mentioned than a barefoot person. The obvious reason is, barefooters are much more aware of where they’re stepping. It just comes with the territory. And, in the unlikely event that we are unlucky enough to accidentally step in some undesirable substance, we immediately know it, and can immediately wash it off or take other measures to get it off our foot. If you are wearing shoes, quite often you’re not even aware you’ve stepped in something “gross” until after you’ve tracked it all over the place, including your car or home. And even then, some of the filth on your shoes may not be visible enough for you to notice, so it would just remain there forever, continually being tracked all over the place – including “anybody elses domain” – plus probably being touched over and over by your hands as you take your shoes off or put them on.

    So don’t try to tell me bare feet get dirtier than shoes. It just isn’t so.

  57. travelah

    All I am pointing out and you are confirming is that your bare feet are as dirty as the bottom of every shoe sole in whatever place you enter. I have the advantage of being able to wear grime off my shoe or wipe my feet.

    Stop playing the health card. It’s simply not true.

  58. useruhead

    travelah: Can u read?

    I don’t think you have read a post in this thread since you last commented. The point is, how is it cleaner for someone to walk over a nasty substance with shoes on rather than barefoot. Do shoes magically clean themselves?

    If you were to step on something gross with shoes on, would you immediately sense it and clean your shoe? If you did would that completely disinfect it so that bacteria could no longer be tracked with every footstep?

    Have you read about the studies about flip flops being just as dirty as the ground they walk on. If so, how much cleaner is that than barefeet. Do flip flops every get washed? Yet flip flops are perfectly acceptable??? Feet get washed every day.

    I know when I’m barefoot, if I were to step on something nasty I’d immediately wash it off with soap and water. Fortunately I haven’t stepped into the types of gross things that you imagine are everywhere. Perhaps that is also why barefoot people watch where they are stepping.

    Maybe if you didn’t wear footwear all the time you wouldn’t step in gross things and track them everywhere you went.

  59. Yes, feet get dirty on the bottom, but that is not a problem to our own health, because our skin keeps pathogens out. And it should not a problem to a place of business, because bare feet can be wiped on a door mat at least as easily as shoes can (or indeed easier than some soles, since bare soles are quite smooth and don’t have the deep ridges walking shoes or work boots have). Why do you think we can’t/won’t wipe our feet?

  60. Kriss

    Travelah wrote: “All I am pointing out and you are confirming is that your bare feet are as dirty as the bottom of every shoe sole in whatever place you enter.”

    If, as you say, bare feet are as dirty as the bottom of every shoe sole in whatever place one might enter, then what is your issue? Based on your previous comment, it sounds like you’re now saying shoes are not “clean and acceptable” either. However, I’m not sure where you’re reading that anybody has said that bare feet are *as* dirty as the bottom of shoes. The point is, as a rule, bare feet are *not* as dirty as shoes, as I explained before.

    “I have the advantage of being able to wear grime off my shoe or wipe my feet.”

    The advantage? That is actually the advantage of being barefoot, not of wearing shoes, again, as I explained before.

  61. Piffy!

    i had no idea this was such a hot topic.

    what are the politician’s stances on this issue (other than shad, who we know has taken money from the shoe lobby)?

  62. Kriss

    I’m not sure if there’s a shoe lobby or not, but there’s a very powerful shoe industry which would love to, and make every effort to, keep us shod from the cradle to the grave, with a special shoe for every purpose in life.

    Shoes also keep podiatrists in business. And have you ever noticed what most podiatrists recommend for people’s feet that have been damaged by shoes? More shoes. They know how to ensure their economic future.

  63. travelah

    Ha …. Asheville has it’s resident radical barefoot activist lobby … this is actually funny.

  64. shadmarsh

    Yes the radical cobbler and podiatrist lobby has kept many a good man down.

  65. $$maker

    What’s funny is that barefeet make as much of a fasion statement as shoes. If you enjoy walking barefoot, do it. If you don’t enjoy walking barefoot, wear shoes or something. But don’t go around telling others what to wear on their feet.

    I think this horse has been beat to death.

  66. vas

    travelah wrote: “All I am pointing out and you are confirming is that your bare feet are as dirty as the bottom of every shoe sole in whatever place you enter.”

    This is not true. I wash my feet at least once a day, when did you last wash your shoes with soap? And anyway, even if bare feet and shoes were equally dirty, as you say, why are shoes acceptable in businesses while bare feet aren’t? If bare feet were unsightly, as you say, why are flip-flops and open-toed sandals acceptable?

    travelah wrote: “I have the advantage of being able to wear grime off my shoe or wipe my feet.”

    What makes you think that a barefoot person cannot wipe their feet? So stop playing the hygiene card. Your logic is flawed.

  67. Kriss

    Activist? I agree, that is funny.

    No, we don’t need any lobby. As the letter stated, what we need are policies that are based on reason, not irrational taboo.

  68. Karma

    travelah: OMG! Resistance to my lashings! Must ridicule!

    Any sort of badly motivated discrimination should, in my opinion, be fought. It’s when people like you actually fight BACK when things start to get absurd.

    And it usually ends with people like you saying something like “OMG why do you care when there are war in the world omg” or something remarkably similar – every single time. Yet… you obviously care enough to argue yourself.

    Resident radical shoe activist lobby much?

  69. travelah

    Karma, what in hael are you dribbling about? I don’t have a clue as I don’t think I have responded to whatever it was you were trying to say.

  70. Kriss

    Travelah: “Liberty, they don’t …. that’s why we have to watch what we step in.”

    I read what Liberty wrote; then I read what you wrote. There’s a disconnect there somewhere. Your comment doesn’t make much sense.

  71. travelah

    Kriss … you just have to tap your bare toes three times and think harder.

  72. Kriss

    Instead of the necessity of someone having to “think harder” in order to make sense out of some of your posts, maybe you could just do us all a favor and simply write better.

  73. Kriss

    Evolved wrote: “i heard that the reason you stop getting sick while being barefoot all the time is because you have healthy worms that enter your body from the feet and literally eat sickness.”

    Of all the wild and crazy myths out there about being barefoot, I’m afraid that’s one I’ve never heard before. Rather than “healthy worms,” a more plausible explanation might simply be that being barefoot challenges the immune system to build up a good supply of antibodies that help ward off sickness (come to think of it, maybe these antibodies do actually “eat sickness” ;)).

    Evolved also wrote: “How bout a barefoot petition?”

    Not very practical I’m afraid, but a good thought anyway.

  74. travelah

    What kinds of sicknesses are barefooters bulding up immunities against and have you let the Center for Disease Control know about this startling find?

  75. Kriss

    Travelah, it appears your reading skills are not much better than your writing skills. But since you brought it up, I’m sure the CDC is well aware of how the human immune system works. So what you’re suggesting would not be any great revelation to them.

  76. travelah

    Kriss, perhaps you could shed some light on the nature of these diseases that barefooters are building immunities against? What particular diseases are you building immunities for? Would walking around barefoot help in protecting against swine flue, malaria, the common cold, particilar viruses? Come on, sport. Share the good news! Maybe you have the new soluton for HIV!

  77. travelah

    Kriss…. I forgot to discuss one of the dangers of running around barefoot. You see, Kriss, running around barefoot is actually unhealthy. Necator americanus, a pesky little parasite was quite a problem in the southeastern US during the early part of the 20th century particularly among barefoot children. The problem is commonly called hookworm. Here is a CDC article about it (you know, those fellows you claim are in your barefoot camp)

  78. Travelah, there is no specific disease going barefoot protects against, but it is nothing new to the medical community that being *too* clean isn’t good for us. Coming into regular contact with many different pathogens helps us build up a strong immune system, while those who constantly go around cleaning, washing, disinfecting etc are often more susceptible to illness. Also children growing up in a too-clean environment are more likely to suffer from asthma. Thus the dirt we walk on can in fact be a good thing, but of course it is not limited to going barefoot; having pets, playing outside in nature, etc, are good too, for those who don’t like to take off their shoes :).

    About hookworm: last time I looked, we don’t live in the early part of the 20th century anymore, and hookworm is very rare even in the Southeast since modern plumbing has replaced the outhouses. Also the hookworm isn’t even that bad; as someone mentioned earlier (although he didn’t name it I believe), according to the same hygiene hypothesis, it too can help boost your immune system. For me personally this is going a bit far and the dirt from going barefoot, gardening and owning a cat seems to do well enough in keeping my immune system strong. :-P

  79. Karma

    And that “OMG resistance! Must ridicule!” statement is still totally off, you think?

  80. useurhead

    Travelah, once again you haven’t read……

    If you would have read the CDC section on Hookworm you would know how is transmitted.

    First, it favors warm soil. The soil has to be contaminated with feces. The contaminated area is usually used frequently by those using the same spot to relieve themselve i.e. farmworkers going behind the same bush to defecte. Then, one would have to stand in a contaminated spot for more than a brief moment. Not simply walking over a contaminated spot, but standing for more than a minute.

    I don’t know anyone who would stand on the same ground with feces, shoes or no shoes. Although you haven’t read the previous posts, it was mentioned many times that barefooters are more likely to watch where they are stepping. It’s called situational awareness. For you, common sense, which was mentioned earlier.

    Thankfully, hookworm is not contagious. I don’t know how this is relevant to not being able to enter a business with out shoes. What do you think Mister Blister?

  81. JWTJr

    I haven’t agreed with much of what Mr Blister said here, but I frequent the City Market and other tailgate markets. When you smell outside when its windy .. you really smell!

  82. travelah

    Myranya … oh yeah … being dirty with a big stink is healthy and makes you stronger

  83. travelah

    useurhead …. please start.

    Fecal contamination increases the risk and is not a requirement for hookworm contamination. I am not sure you actually read it carefully or not. The reason it was common in the south was because barefoot people were spreading the contamination in soil. … the fecal contamination issue is not talking about a fresh turd laying out there for some poor soul to step in. A septic leach field in a back yard that looks reasonably dry is a more likely source.

  84. LOL travelah, dirt yes, smell no. Regular dirt like the dirt on the soles of your feet, garden soil, cat (or dog) hairs etc doesn’t smell. And believe it or not, the hygiene ‘hypothesis’ has by now been backed up by quite a bit of research. Google it.

    About the hookworm, it *was* common in the South, it no longer is. We’re talking about going barefoot today, reasons why it was more of a risk in the first part of the last century really aren’t relevant. But just in case you want to come up with more reasons from almost a century ago, let me head you off and tell you there’s been a vaccine against Tetanus available since the 1920’s.

  85. useurhead

    Please help me translate this copied and pasted from the CDC reference above:

    Notice: “eggs, which are excreted in stool.” “when infected persons defecate on the ground.”

    Hookworms have a complex life cycle that begins and ends in the small intestine. Adult female worms produce thousands of eggs, which are excreted in stool. Hookworm eggs are not themselves infective. However, if they reach soil (for example, when infected persons defecate on the ground or when “night soil” is used to fertilize crops) and if the soil conditions are favorable (warm, moist, and shaded), the eggs hatch into larvae

    Where does it say that barefoot people were spreading the contaminated soil?

    I don’t believe the CDC information says that fresh fecal contamination is required. Just a collection of it. I would take that to be fecal matter that could be days old.

    In your opinion, what percentage of the ground is prone to hookworm infection and what is the statistical chance that by walking barefoot someone will become infected with this parasite?

    More from the CDC:
    Necator americanus was widespread in the Southeastern United States early in the 20th century. The Rockefeller Sanitary Commission was founded in response, and hookworm infection in this area was well controlled.

  86. useurhead

    This topic is going around in circles.

    Isn’t there risk involved in just about anything?

    All the myths about health codes and dangers of walking without shoes have been proven false.

    If you prefere to wear shoes, by all means wear them. If someone isn’t wearing shoes, let them proceed at their own risk. To each their own.

  87. travelah

    hookworm is not widespread in the south because of two things … shoes and indoor plumbing. Remove shoes and start running around your rural backyards on a widespread basis and it’s likely hookworm will have a resurgence.

  88. aj

    Extremely stupid people think bare feet are a hygiene problem, as if the bottoms of their shoes are any cleaner. Other don’t have a problem seeing bare feet in flip flops, but are suddenly grossed out by the lack of flip flops, how stupid is that? Some think that bare feet stink. Fact is, shoes make feet stink, if you don’t wear them at all, your feet don’t stink. Kind off like how your hands would stink, if you wore plastic gloves over them all day. Others think being barefoot is dangerous, truth is a quarter inch of foam is not going to help you a whole lot, if at all.

    I don’t like to see men with rings in their noses, metal in their faces, or blue hair, but I thought that this was a free country, and how they look was their business.

    By the way, if you worry about hygiene that much, better start wearing gloves everywhere, hands are the primary spreader of disease.

    If you get upset seeing bare feet, maybe you have a deeper problem. Really, feet are just another body part like hands. Now what ever floats your boat is OK with me. I just say, don’t ask, don’t tell, and don’t let your problem hinder my freedom.

  89. spanky

    [b]Ha …. Asheville has it’s resident radical barefoot activist lobby … this is actually funny. [/b]

    It’s great how everything travelah disagrees with is a “radical lobby” of some sort or another.

  90. shadmarsh

    No one cares about your feet. We just think you are asinine for turning something so trivial into a cause.

  91. Kriss

    Spanky wrote: “It’s great how everything travelah disagrees with is a ‘radical lobby’ of some sort or another.”

    Actually I think Travelah is way out of his league on this topic. It would be like me trying to tell a brain surgeon he’s doing his job wrong.

  92. hal

    what is wrong with wearing sandals or crocs? personally i think it would be a safety hazard to wear nothing on your feet in a city. that’s probably the thought processes of those shop owners too- they don’t want you to sue them for getting something in your foot in their store…maybe. you know if you did what you are talking about in some cities you might step on a used syringe or something.

  93. shadmarsh

    I don’t know I’m going to have side with Travelah on this…which should tell you something.

  94. travelah

    Myranya … er … do you know what a septic system is and where they are used and why?

    shadmarsh … look at you .. what a natural politician!!

  95. Travelah, yes. Do you? You seem to think it’s simply a pipe where the raw waste is deposited directly unto the leach field, for people to walk through and pick up parasites. If yours does this, have it checked out, it’s failing.

    Shadmarsh (sorry about the miss-spelling earlier), why put down those who write letters about all kinds of things that are of no interest to you? When I see a letter that doesn’t interest me, I just skip it, I read the next letter or go do something else entirely. You find it funny how much time and effort we put into this subject; I find it funny how much time you have on your hands to keep coming back to this thread and comment even though you consider it so trivial.

  96. Kriss

    Travelah, you know, this hookworm thing you keep harping about is such a red herring. If there were any really “negative” aspects of going barefoot, risk of hookworm infection would be so far down the list, it wouldn’t even be listed by most rational people. For all practical purposes in today’s world, and especially in this country, the chances of a hookworm infection are nil. You’ve made a lot of statements on that issue based only on your own spin and distortion of the facts that have not only been refuted by several posters here – posters, I might add, that certainly have a lot more expertise and experience in being barefoot than you do (actually you know next to nothing about it) – but by the actual words in the CDC article that you yourself cited.

  97. Kriss

    Halcyon wrote: “what is wrong with wearing sandals or crocs?”

    You mean other than the obvious safety concerns of wearing such footwear? Other than that, your question is kind of like asking, “What’s wrong with wearing a hat?” It’s not that there is necessarily anything “wrong” with wearing one thing or another; the point is, people have a choice of what they wear or don’t wear. Where that choice does no harm to any other person – such as the choice to be barefoot – then it should be of no concern to any other person.

    “personally i think it would be a safety hazard to wear nothing on your feet in a city. that’s probably the thought processes of those shop owners too- they don’t want you to sue them for getting something in your foot in their store… maybe.”

    Well, of course any business has to occasionally deal with liability claims. That’s what they have insurance for. (And btw, NO insurance company “requires” stores to ban barefoot customers – another excuse I’ve occasionally heard from misinformed store employees or managers.) The point is that barefoot injuries historically are almost nonexistent, and logically the potential for a barefoot injury in a store or restaurant doesn’t even approach the potential for an injury related to footwear – such a flip-flops or high heels – and stores and restaurants wouldn’t even consider banning them. I have in my files a long list (much, much too long to include here) of court cases from around the country involving injuries due to footwear or lack thereof. The vast majority relate to injuries caused by footwear, not bare feet. There is a very small section that deals with cases in which the injured person was barefoot, even if the bare feet had little to do with the injury. Most of the barefoot injuries are either outdoors or indoors at a pool or locker room, not in a store or restaurant.

    I’ve found that most people who never go barefoot have a really distorted view of how vulnerable feet are. Almost nothing usually found on the ground or floor can actually cause injury or serious harm to bare feet, especially for someone who’s used to being barefoot. I know – I’ve been doing this for many years. There’s probably a greater chance of getting a paper cut on your hand than any kind of cut on your bare feet.

    “you know if you did what you are talking about in some cities you might step on a used syringe or something.”

    More irrational paranoia. In order for a used syringe lying around to actually do you any harm, a number of conditions have to be in place:

    1. Someone needs to have been shooting up in the area you’re walking through – not likely in most places you’d normally be walking in.
    2. The syringe needs to be somewhere directly in your path, not in the gutter or up against the wall of the building the users were probably leaning against.
    3. Nobody could have seen it before, or they likely would have kicked it out of the way into the gutter.
    4. You would not see it yourself, even though it’s right in your path.
    5. It needs to be pointing up at just the right angle so that it actually sticks you.
    6. It needs to be carrying a communicable disease.
    7. The use of it needs to have been very recent, since most such germs don’t survive very long outside the body.

    There’s probably a greater chance of being struck by lightening. And if the area in which you’re walking is all that bad, a discarded syringe would probably be the least of your worries.

    • jbjwavmj

      My kid once stepped on a nail pointing out from shuttering board. Badly hurt.

      Yes, he was wearing appropriate boots for safety (construction site).

  98. Karma

    And now someone is going to make fun of Kriss for writing a very long (and well written) post. *starts timer*

    And that “syringe” thing I’ve heard plenty of times, and every time I mention even one of those criteria you list, the person first mentioning syringes are kind of baffled themselves at the sillyness of the idea. And personally, having walked through “Plattan” in Stockholm (where, reputably, there are syringes EVERYWHERE) I’ve never even seen anything remotely looking like a syringe (and yes, I’ve been looking just to figure out what people have been talking about :P).

  99. shadmarsh

    It is my firm belief that conversations such as this are ruining America, turning us into a collection of bare-footed, latte toting, NY Times reading, America-hating wussies.

  100. useurhead

    Travelah, are you sure hookworm has been eradicated in the south because of people wearing shoes and indoor plumbing?

    Once again you have proven you can’t read. In the CDC link YOU quoted states that hookworm infection was reduce through the efforts of the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission. Please have someone read your own quote from the CDC to you. Then research the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission with someone who knows how to read so that they can explain it to you.

  101. travelah

    useurhead, are you taking the wrong pills? As late as the 1940s federal workers were building sanitary outhouses to hep eliminate the proplem in Florida. I may be using a bit of hyperbole, but the primary cause for eradication is preventive rather than active treatment … thats where shoes and indoor plumbing make the biggest difference….. take a blue on next time.

    Kriss, the biggest problem with your bare feet in a place of business is the liability to the business owner. Put something on your feet or stop worrying about patronizing businesses you feel are unfair to you.

  102. useurhead

    Travelah—-knowlege is power.

    Find someone with reasonably good reading and comprehension skills to read about the Rockefeller Sanitation Commission at

    Then have them explain it to you. It was a project to erradicate hookworm from 1909-1914. 1940 is a ways off from 1914 and state sanitation workers not federal workers ran the program.

    Why are you hung up on the liability issue. Please once again find a trusted friend who can read well and research business law and liability issues. Barefeet are extremely low risk. Just look it up.

  103. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Can one “acquire” a foot fetish? Why else would I continue following this thread? Do they make a pill for such obsession? Perhaps a Pisgah Forest happy mushroom would do? I think I’m in need.

  104. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Well, seriously, in Asheville proper, children’s sandboxes in neighborhoods that have large numbers of free-range cats are the prime source of hookworm in children. Good parents know that and keep their children’s sandboxes covered. The turtle-shaped ones with lids are especially cute, and functional.

  105. Kriss

    Betty Cloer Wallace wrote: “Well, seriously, in Asheville proper, children’s sandboxes in neighborhoods that have large numbers of free-range cats are the prime source of hookworm in children.”

    Betty, I love reading your posts about our Appalachian heritage and the dignity of our people, but I’m afraid you’re quite misinformed on this issue.

    I know of no proven evidence that human beings can get hookworm infections from animals, and that includes cats. Have you ever known of a documented case of what you’re describing? The reason is that hookworm, as are most other diseases and infections, tends to be species specific. That is, any hookworms that would infect animals are extremely unlikely to infect a different species, such as humans.

    I know some people do believe there is some risk there, but that’s pretty much just misinformation and myth, just like a lot of other beliefs in this country about going barefoot.

    Just think about it. People in this country and other parts of the world have been doing farm work barefoot around animals (involving a lot of walking and standing in manure of all kinds) for a very long time – and presumably many still do today, and have not experienced this as a problem. My own father was raised on a farm in Madison County, and he has spoken many times about always being barefoot, including going to school barefoot. He never had hookworm and never knew anyone else that had it. Being around animals, whether they are farm animals or free-range cats, is no reason not to be barefoot.

  106. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Kriss, the only documented case I personally know about is that my toddler-age nephew got hookworms. Testing of his urban backyard sandbox showed hookworm egg infestation that was the likely source because of the cats his mother regularly had to chase out of the sandbox. The child’s pediatrician said there had been other cases in children who played in open sandboxes in that neighborhood.

    I, too, grew up on a farm and spent every summer barefoot along with my siblings and neighbor friends. One of our favorite “dare-ye” games was to dare each other to step in fresh warm cow patties, after which we washed off our feet in the creek. Even so, it was not uncommon for us to end the day with rims of dried cow poo outlining our toes. I do not know of any of us having any worm problems, but who knows how long assorted parasites can lie dormant within us. (There’s a very unsettling current TV show about such parasites.)

    Our barn cats, of which there were many, sometimes got worms imbedded under their skin that caused leaking disgusting sores, usually on their heads and necks. We called them “wolfs” (wolves?) and treated them with coal oil or turpentine and garlic, which worked.

    I still live on a farm but have given up animals for forestry, and I still go barefoot in the summer. I regularly get “stove-up” toes, but no worms that I know of (knock on wood). There are lots of dogs and assorted wild animals around, including snakes, but I don’t worry much about them. My only complaint is that they keep me awake on full-moon nights such as tonight.

  107. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Kriss, I just googled words relating to hookworm in humans transmitted from cats and other animals. The subject’s worth a bit of internet research…lots of information. Evidently there are several kinds of hookworms, some transmittable from animals to humans (from cat and dog feces) and some not. All in all, rather disgusting research, but important for people in areas with known infestation. I guess the important thing is to know the ground upon which you walk.

  108. vas

    Betty, it seems there are two species of hookworm: Ancylostoma duodenale and Necator americanus. The first one can infect humans, cats and dogs. The second only humans. A Russian site on infectology says in that Ancylostoma duodenale is transmitted mostly through dirty hands, unwashed vegetables etc while Necator americanus is mostly transmitted through skin while walking barefoot and lying on the ground. I think your nephew got Ancylostoma duodenale, perhaps by putting his fingers into his mouth or something like this. Was he also barefoot in the sandbox?

  109. The parasites-from-sandbox things is true, but is not a barefoot issue. Small children playing in sandboxes are likely to stick their sandy fingers in their mouth, and the parasites from sandboxes often enter the body by ingestion. The cat roundworm is a common culprit here, but these are of no concern to barefooters who are beyond the age of sucking their own toes while playing in the sand.

    Also, animal hookworm usually has a hard time entering the human foot, since the skin on the sole is tough, but kids in a sandbox sit/lay/crawl in it, exposing more, thinner parts of their skin to the larvae (in many cases today, lots of their skin *except* the soles of their feet; many kids play with their shoes on even in the sandbox, but are still exposed to these parasites). These hookworms may cause an infection called cutaneous larva migrans, which can show up on the thinner skin between the toes but often happens on the buttocks, lower legs, knees and hands as well.

  110. Kriss

    Travelah, early yesterday I responded to halcyon (in part, along with other back-up information): “The point is that barefoot injuries historically are almost nonexistent, and logically the potential for a barefoot injury in a store or restaurant doesn’t even approach the potential for an injury related to footwear – such a flip-flops or high heels – and stores and restaurants wouldn’t even consider banning them.”

    Eight hours and one minute later, you posted: “Kriss, the biggest problem with your bare feet in a place of business is the liability to the business owner.”

    Do you just jump into this thread occasionally and post whatever thoughts might be in your head at the time without bothering to read anything else that might have been posted? Just curious.

  111. travelah

    I recently had an Asheville busines owner inform me that they do not allow barefoot customers because of the business liability issues. I’ll take his word on the matter.

  112. Kriss

    “I recently had an Asheville busines owner inform me that they do not allow barefoot customers because of the business liability issues.”

    Well, that’s not surprising at all, as some business owners simply don’t look at such issues with logic or a reasonable perspective. You might ask him when was the last time a barefoot person was actually injured in his store/business that caused him to have that concern.

  113. useurhead

    Here we go again. Footphobics, please read the previous threads.

    Could you please quote a business insurance contract that specifically regulates a customers attire. Not just: well…some business owner told me. Please copy and paste the exact wording. Many corporate lawyers haven’t been able to do this and I’ve been able to walk barefoot freely in many businesses.

    Travelah posted a link to the CDC, which also references the Rockefeller Sanitation Commission on the erradication of hookworm. Please read it.

    As stated in previous posts, hookworm and many other parasites are mainly induced through the mouth. The only way to get hookworm by walking barefoot would be to walk onto and stand in fecal contaminated soil.
    sidewalks or streets
    floors, tiled or carpeted
    your average walking trail
    your yard

    Once again, I don’t know anyone who stands on fecal contaminated soil. But if someone did stand on fecal contaminated soil AND certain conditions favorable to hookworm existed, then there might be a chance to get infected. I doubt its a 100% chance but I’m sure all you knowlegable folk posting on here can educate me.

    Listen people, life is short. I’ve been reminded of that too many times unfortunately. Why limit yourself and live your life in fear? As long as you’re not hurting yourself and other people, then live your life with out limitations, within reason. As mentioned above, everything has risk. It just has to be managed to an acceptable level.

  114. travelah

    er …. they do not allow barefoot people in the store … hence, no injuries due to barefeet.

  115. useurhead

    Good correlation travelah. Likewise, if you don’t use your (bare)feet to push wood through a band saw, you most likely won’t cut them off.

  116. Travelah, we’ve pointed out how many people mistakingly believe there are laws or other regulations against bare feet, so why are you *still* willing to take such a statement at face value? I am sure this business owner is convinced he is right; I also give you odds that if he were to look it up, he won’t be able to find anything about barefoot customers in his insurance policy. So far, quite a few barefooters I know online, from all across the US, have asked business owners to look, and however convinced these folks were they would find something about bare feet, none of them did. Not one.

  117. AmericanFreedom

    Maybe the better question would be what kinds of injuries and diseases do wearing bad shoes cause? Everything from bunions to hammertoes to back problems to … ugly, stinky feet.

    So why, in the name of (I dare say) American Freedom, do you anti-barefoot folks persist in pretending that others (not even yourselves) going barefoot somehow presents a health risk to you, be it on a “health” level or a “liability” level? It just isn’t true.

    As for shadmarsh saying no one cares about bare feet and that people who prefer to go barefoot are asanine for turning this into a “cause,” how would you feel if every time you went to a store you were told you had to take off your shoes to come in? Assuming you preferred wearing shoes, do you think at some point you would speak up and question the policy that required everyone to remove their shoes at the door?

    I would hope that you would, because in most public buildings I can think of, that would be a ridiculous policy. Just like the “No Shoes, No Service” policy is ridiculous in the vast majority of situations where it is posted. I wouldn’t think you were “asinine” for pointing out the wrong-headedness of such a policy, I would be glad to see a free person in a free country standing up for his or her freedom.

    Diversity is a wonderful thing, even from the ankles down. Let’s learn to celebrate it, not be frightened by it.

  118. shadmarsh

    As for shadmarsh saying no one cares about bare feet and that people who prefer to go barefoot are asanine for turning this into a “cause,” how would you feel if every time you went to a store you were told you had to take off your shoes to come in? Assuming you preferred wearing shoes, do you think at some point you would speak up and question the policy that required everyone to remove their shoes at the door?

    I’d take 15 seconds to take off my shoes,then do my shopping.

  119. AmericanFreedom

    Compliance would be one option, shadmarsh, you are absolutely correct. And it’s one that many people who would prefer to walk barefoot choose on a regular basis simply to avoid potential hassles.

    But I would guess that after a week or a month or a year of following the shoes-off-at-the-door rule, you might just wonder about the logic behind it. You might even suggest to management that they change the rule.

    And management might review the policy and decide that even though you’ve been wearing shoes that have tracked through who knows what, shoes that have probably never been washed even once (unlike the barefoot people who scrub their feet with soap and water on at least a daily basis), that you are right; you should be allowed to spend your hard-earned money while wearing shoes if that’s the way you prefer to walk.

    That would be a good thing, and I would be happy for you.

    You might still get a few funny looks from some of the barefoot shoppers, though. You’d be on your own in that department, but it’s no biggie. You could handle it. Some of them might even be curious as to how you can stand having your feet cooped up in shoes and socks all day long when they don’t really have to be.

    Be patient with them, and if they are well-meaning, it’s not going to hurt you to answer their questions about why you want to keep your feet inside shoes all your waking hours. But if they start getting ugly about it, like saying that your shoes are a health threat to them or something irrational, don’t take any guff. If that happens, it’s time to put your foot down. Even if it is inside a shoe.

  120. Karma

    Oh, would you really now? Every now and then, everywhere you go, having someone tell you that you are denied service unless you took your shoes off – and if you, tired of having to do so every time ask why, you get some strange argument that “it’s because the turtles on the roof have allergies”?

    You know the argument is completely broken, but you are forced to conform to it anyway.

    But then again, you are you. And if you have some wisdom up there, you really shouldn’t feel surprised if I tell you that there are other points of view and specifically, that YOUR way of seeing things aren’t the “right one”. It might work for you, and that’s awesome. For others, not so much.

    I personally don’t accept unfair discrimination at any time. That’s me (and that’s a lot of others as well). And that is regardless of the “magnitude” of the thing discriminated against, because it really doesn’t matter in the end whether it’s because you are a red-head, if you wear a turban or if you are barefoot – in the end a person have been denied service because of some arbitrary and irrelevant reason – and in some cases been humiliated in front of others as well as being lied to in the face (“health department dictates that…”).

    For me, being me is paramount. Let me be me, I let you be you, that sort of thing. Especially when it comes to what clothes we wear (and I know it really must tickle your fingers to write “but what if I come naked?” and then I must write a new post explaining how nudity is in many cases seen as sexual, might cause arousal, etc etc and that it belongs in a thread about bare feet as much as killing thing belongs in a thread about throwing dart. Not that I compare nudity with killing, or anything else that is bad for that matter.)

  121. $$maker

    I’ve read many comments in this thread which say this is a silly topic and there are more important things to worry about. Yet, some of the persons who posted those comments carry on and on about all the supposed pitfalls of walking barefoot…anywhere.

    It has been repeatidly pointed out in links about health and disease transmission, using the very anti-barefoot threads by the footaphobics, that walking barefoot is extremely low risk. If this is a wasteful and silly topic, then why would anyone say that walking barefoot is dirty, unsanitary, a liability and against the law? These claims are proven to be completely unfounded and urban myths. Does anyone really care that much?

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