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Worms Riding High E-mail
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Sunday, 11 September 2005

by Stephen White, from our issue #3

Worms are riding a high wave of publicity and we aren't the only ones to be touting their benefits.
Sunday New York Times, Sept. 26, 1993, headlines, "The Lowly Worm Now Exalted", proclaims, "The gardener's good and faithful friend, the worm is an engine for making fine soil" and, along with the two thirds page article, displays a large as (or larger than) life picture of a bunch of worms crawling across the page.

Smithsonian magazine, July 1993, headlines an article, with very colorful accompanying photographs, definitely larger than life, "On the lowly worm we earthlings pin our loftiest dreams", and further, "Getting rich, catching a whopper, composting our garbage, growing the perfect melon - you name it, worms can help us get it done." This is a charming eight page article with high quality photographs in which I learned about "grunting", the age old process of "calling worms" or bringing worms to the surface of the ground by vibration. The author of the article reported as he watched one 'grunter" do his stuff, "Worms are poking their angry pink heads up through the blackened soil. They shoulder themselves out of their burrows, shimmying, dancing, twitching along on their six-inch-long bellies, driven to frenzy by this infernal vibration." Sounds like fun doesn't it. At least for the "grunter".
I also learned that the Latin word for worm is "vermis", hence worms were the original "vermin". And it seems that before Charles Darwin began his research on earthworms (mid to late 19th century) they had a pretty bad name and were generally despised by most.
But this is to be a "short", so let me end by recommending you read this entire article.
Garbage magazine, Jan/Feb. 1992, may have had the honor of being the first in this wave of worm publicity with Robert Kourick's article, "As The Worm Turns". Featuring a full page color photo of the Worm Woman herself with a playful expression of disgust on her face (I know she really loves worms) this article focuses more on the "how to's" of vermicomposting and announces in bold letters, "As close to all mouth and gut as a critter can get, the lowly worm is a prodigious digester of food leftovers."
Sunset magazine is "Putting Worms to Work" in their Nov. 1993 issue's Northwest Garden section. Kathy Elshire of Lake Oswego, Oregon was interviewed about her worm bin and gives some useful tips to Sunset readers.
And finally, Audubon magazine, in their Nov./Dec. 1993 issue, is trumpeting "WORMS STAND TALL, A LOWLY CREATURE GAINS NEW STATUS IN THE COMING AGE OF COMPOST". Suggesting that the worm might become the "tag" for the 90's, they've even cartooned a bronze-like monument to it in which a (giant) worm stands tall in an overflowing garbage can.
It's been our observation, too, that worms are definitely rising once again in popularity. This time, however, it is with a revised mission, not to make us rich like the scams of a decade or so ago promised, but with a down-to-earth method of helping us solve our enormous waste problems, and enrich our soils, too.
With publicity like this our friend the worm hardly deserves the term lowly any more. Next step, The Wall Street Journal!
Last Updated ( Sunday, 02 October 2005 )
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