2 years ago, if you asked me what the difference is between soil and dirt...I couldn't tell you. But now I definitely have a pretty good understanding. In learning everything I do about gardening now, (which is still quite limited) I have been contemplating the link between lack of good soil and poverty. In developing nations, if there is a drought or if there is no good soil, there is absolutely no way that community can have income, and it leads to famine, hunger and eventually conflict.
We also see this link to poverty in Australia too. In many small rental houses, there is either not enough yard, or not enough good soil because the whole landscape has been stripped bare before they put a house on it, for a person to start growing from scratch. Gardens can be developed, but soil is expensive and gardening equipment is also expensive. So if a person can't afford to move, has little to no income, and not enough good soil, there is no way that they can produce the food that they need to be able to survive. However, if the soil is present, then one tomato can become lots of tomatoes. One bean can become lots of beans.
I really think that our current culture around knocking down a whole bush, completely killing everything on that land, putting in a house (which by the way, Australia has the largest homes per person based on number of square metres to a person in the world.. which we simply do not need), and then having the cost of soil way too high is a recipe for environmental and social degredation.