One farmworker tells of the soil that would "bite" him, but that
was the chemicals burning his skin. Other labourers developed
lupus, asthma, diabetes, kidney failure, or suffered myriad
symptoms with no clear diagnosis. Some miscarried or had children
with genetic defects while others developed cancer. In Fed Up, Dale
Slongwhite collects the nearly inconceivable and chilling oral
histories of African American farmworkers whose lives, and those of
their families, were forever altered by one of the most horrific
pesticide exposure incidents in United States' history. For
decades, the farms around Lake Apopka, Florida's third largest
lake, were sprayed with chemicals ranging from the now-banned DDT
to toxaphene. Among the most productive farmlands in America, the
fields were doused with organochlorine pesticides, also known as
persistent organic pollutants; the once-clear waters of the lake
turned pea green; birds, alligators, and fish died at alarming
rates; and still the farmworkers planted, harvested, packed, and
shipped produce all over the country, enduring scorching sun,
snakes, rats, injuries, substandard housing, low wages, and the
endocrine disruptors dropped by crop dusters. Eventually, state and
federal dollars were allocated to buy out and close the farms to
attempt land restoration, water clean-up, and wildlife
rehabilitation. But the farmworkers became statistics, nameless
casualty's history almost forgot. Here are their stories, told in
their own words.
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