Written by Judith Klinger

Welcome to DIRT, our second edition of W-E Digest.

Again, it’s a labor of love and perseverance.

This issue has an incredible range of contributors. People who are passionate and committed to helping us live on a sustainable planet. From using meditation to improve yields, to strong women doing courageous things, to the effects of a communal kitchen garden, there is passion and energy in abundance.

I’ve learned a lot about soil and dirt with this issue. The concept of permaculture, where people work in various ways to conserve and preserve our resources is probably the strongest takeaway issue for me. I'm curious, what will you gain from reading this issue?

In the Grass, Photo Credit: Judith Klinger
In the Grass, Photo Credit: Judith Klinger

We have an obligation to the next generation to hand over this planet in better shape than it is now.

We are developing resources to help us better understand ways to feed more people with less water, less land mass.

We have university students with enormous energy and dedication who are digging deep into composting and inventing food systems to make us think differently about food. It’s an exciting time to be involved in the world of food advocacy; and I rest easier knowing these students are out there digging around to find solutions to our food issues. I’m happy knowing people are out there helping us understand what it takes to get a chocolate bar make in a responsible way.

Francesco in his grandfather's orto. Photo credit: Judith Klinger
Francesco in his grandfather's orto. Photo credit: Judith Klinger

This summer, in Italy, we made friends with six-year-old Francesco. His grandfather, Pasquale has an incredible orto (Italian for vegetable garden). It’s on a small Mediterranean island where land is scarce and the terrain is steep, so the orto is only 1 or 2 meters wide of terraced strips with rocky steps and paths between the layers. Each strip is packed with capers, lemons, tomatoes, and basically any vegetable or herb you might need. Francesco knows every single plant, he’s sucking up all the knowledge that Pasquale is giving him and he is bursting with pride. If we could bottle that explosive passion, the world would be better place for everyone.

When I was kid, there was an organization that my friends belonged to called Future Farmers of America. It’s where the cool kids hung out.  At the beginning of doing the research for this issue I was feeling a bit pessimistic about the future of farmers, but not anymore.  The Future Farmers of America is still an active organization. Farmers in remote places are turning to technology to help them. It’s all encouraging news.

But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be paying attention to history.

Photo Credit: Dorthea Lange, Library of Congress
Photo Credit: Dorthea Lange, Library of Congress

Ichose to dig deep into the tragic story of the Dust Bowl years in the United States. It was a confounding story of national pride and willfulness. The government thought we could simply plow our way to food and fortune; there was a complete confidence that hard work would yield the results we wanted: more wheat, more cattle. All the while turning a blind eye to the reality of the soil, terrain and water. It makes you look a little more closely at the agriculture situation in California, Australia and other places where food is coming from a desert like terrain.

I feel as if we are arriving at some sort of turning point where the logjam of entrenchment is breaking up. I think we may have the tools to help us turn this planet into a wonderful place to grow up.

Judith Klinger is a Founder and Director of World-Eats.org. She believes in eating well, laughing hard, and sharing meals with anyone who shows up at the table.
World-Eats developed out of a firm belief that our food is better when we share local knowledge on a global scale.
Judith has been a food blogger, personal chef, and cookbook author for Aroma Cucina. She was a Director and Operations Manager for the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
When not at the stove, or the keyboard, she likes to go outside to play.