I must admit I am pretty proud of my little vegetable garden. After several months of tilling, watering, pulling weeds, pruning and tying and lacing, I am ready for a rest – except I can’t rest. Now I have to get my produce to the market, in this case – my friends, who are eagerly waiting to crunch down on cucumbers, tear apart some basil, parsley, oregano and tarragon and bite into some of the biggest reddest tomatoes around.
Although the tomatoes won’t be ready until late next month they are already showing signs of bursting into the world. I can’t believe it, my little tomatoes I grew from seed are now real plants that will produce real fruit. When I deliver these vegetables and fruits to others they will know exactly where they came from and exactly who grew them. They will also know that there were NO insecticides or herbicides used to protect their food – only me. They will also know that no vehicle transported them or no refrigeration preserved them, or no warehouse housed them. Only me.
Only me is important because the less we depend on insecticides the healthier we will be.
Although I oppose using pesticides, those advocating their use point out that herbicides and insecticides make farming more profitable. Pesticide is a BIG business – $50 billion dollar business to be exact. And, about 40% of the crop is exported to other countries. Because of the use of pesticides it has been estimated that millions of lives have been saved from death through malaria, yellow fever, sleeping sickness, Black plague and typhoid fever.
But opponents say that pesticides spread. Each year, nearly a billion pounds of pesticides are sprayed in fields and orchards across the country. As the families who live nearby can tell you those pesticides don’t always stay in the fields and orchards where they’re sprayed. Aerial application reaches only 10% of the crop and only 2-5% of insecticides sprayed actually reach the pests for which they are intended. This means that more than 95% of the pesticide that is sprayed is left in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. Environmental pollution from runoff and from people who don’t know what they’re doing when applying the repellant has resulted in wildlife and fish losses.
Just so you know – every single time I place my hands in the earth and pull the weeds from around my vegetables and fruit, I feel good, tired and relieved. Good, because I’m not endangering anyone’s health by not using insect repellant. Tired, because it’s labor intensive. Relieved, because I’m delivering on a promise.