Get the Drift?

What’s it like living in “America’s Fruit Basket”? Elanor at the Ethicurean toured California’s Central Valley as part of the Reclaiming Our Healthy Future conference put on by Californians for Pesticide Reform along with other antipesticide groups.

While many of us try to guard our health and that of our families by choosing organic produce, we often forget that there are people besides the end consumer who are affected by pesticides.

Elanor visits a school in the Central Valley town of Grayson. It’s surrounded “all the way up to the fence” by almond orchards. Tomato and melon fields lie beyond the orchards. Drift testing has found chronic low-to-moderate levels of pesticides in the school’s air. As Elanor puts it: “Chronic meaning constant. These kids are breathing in pesticides all the time.” Nitrates from pesticides have also leached into the drinking water. To add insult to injury, the area is home to a tire-burning facility.

But the good news is that people are starting to organize around these basic health and economic issues—because industrial agriculture has far wider ramifications than just cheap food.