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DIRT. An Unlikely Gift. -
Written by Robin Ove

As a child I made mud pies and played patty-cake, poked seeds in the garden rows with my grandmother and later, at age nine tilled the soil on the small tractor.

And, as the northern hemisphere tilts towards spring, the earth and the warm sky beckons me back into the garden. To go, ungloved and pull the tender weeds and hand cultivate the beds, and dreamily ponder seed catalogs and amendments.

Not everyone has had this same experience; too often in our organized, sanitary world the idea of getting dirty is a bad thing. Yet, when we taste that vine-ripened tomato, or the mineral, flinty edge of terrior that identifies our favorite wine we are reaping the benefits of this gift, this soil.

When I began researching for this issue I knew that working in the soil made me feel better. The zen of pulling weeds in quadrants and the satisfying look back at the cleared bed, seeing so much accomplished would bring a smile to my lips. Little did I know that science has shown us that the microbes in the soil may act as an anti-depressant.

“Dirt can be good for us! Mycobacterium vaccae, a bacterium in soil, has been found to trigger the release of seratonin, which in turn improves mood and possibly even brain function.”- Anne Cissel, National Wildlife Federation

Last year was proclaimed “2015 The International Year of the Soils – healthy soils for a healthy life.”

Hundreds of events, scholarly projects, and celebrations brought a focus on the real world implications of how soil, and soil management impact our food and our planet. Not just the science, but the societal aspects as well as art and celebration.

Humus, Photo Credit: Melissa De Witte
Humus, Photo Credit: Melissa De Witte

This issue captures that spirit and taste of our research, courtesy of our wonderful contributors in our own World-Eats eclectic way. They are artists, composters, yogi, urban gardeners, agroecologists, bee-keepers, and chef pioneers who share their love of the earth, the dirt, and the soils that feed us.

Maybe it is time, your time, to get a little dirty; and maybe take a little better care of the soils underneath your feet.

Messy Hands, Photo Credit: Linn Marlen
Messy Hands, Photo Credit: Linn Marlen

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Robin OveRobin E. H. Ove is a freelance photographer and writer who lives on the Monterey Bay in California where she was raised. The beauty of local and diverse agriculture on the shores of a pristine marine sanctuary have provided both inspiration and style in her works. She brings a keen sense of observation when capturing moments in food, travel, and lifestyle photography.
Robin also combines her passion for food not only here at World-Eats, but also on her popular blog, What about the Food? and she is currently the Visions Newsletter editor for the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Food Photographers and Stylists section.

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