"Celebrate food...from field to table": cherish the soil

Because it's almost spring (at least according to the calendar if not the weather), I've had my hands in the soil. This has prompted many thoughts about the Nutrition Month theme and how much there is to celebrate -- but might overlook if we rush to the table.

Pots of freshly mixed organic soil & compost - ready for spring sowing

Vegetable gardens...are much more important than houses in the overall scheme of things. Agriculture is the foundation of civilization. Houses come and go, but soil must be cherished if food is to be grown for us to eat.  ~ Joan Dye Gussow, This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader

Every time we eat, we owe a nod of gratitude to the soil for supplying us with the nutrients that keep us alive.  ~ Jeff Nield, Soil: The Real Black Gold
These two quotes (from two of my favourite "earthy" writers) prompt us to consider the soil for in fact it is the ultimate source of healthy food.
Jeff Nield's compelling, elegant essay describes some ways urban dwellers can protect and preserve soil. It ends with a positive but sobering message:
We are blessed to live in a physical environment [Metro Vancouver] that simply hasn’t been exploited long enough by human activity to be seriously degraded. But if we don’t learn to protect what lies beneath our feet, all our talk about local food will be moot as we munch on dirt cookies.