Fed Up – The High Cost of Cheap Food
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 disturbing 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 repeatedly covered with organochlorine pesticides, also known as persistent organic pollutants. The once-clear waters of the lake turned pea green from decades of pesticide-related run-off. Research proved that birds, alligators, and fish were all harmed. And still the farmworkers planted, harvested, packed, and shipped produce all over the country, enduring scorching sun, snakes, rats, injuries, substandard housing, and low wages. All the while, endocrine-disruptor chemicals were dropped over their heads by crop dusters as they labored in the poison-saturated fields.
Eventually, state and federal dollars were allocated to buy out and close farms to attempt land restoration, water clean up, and wildlife protection. But the farmworkers became statistics—nameless casualties history almost forgot. Here are their stories, told in their own words.
“Poignant, gut-wrenching, and real, this book should be required reading for everyone who eats.”—Barry Estabrook, author of Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit
“Presents compelling and heart-wrenching stories about profound social and environmental injustices. Yet these are also stories about strength, survival, and the victory of the human spirit.”—Joan Flocks, director, Social Policy Division at the Center for Governmental Responsibility, Levin College of Law, University of Florida
About Dale Slongwhite (Orlando, Florida Author)
Dale Slongwhite is a diehard New Englander who migrated south in 2007. "You don't have to shovel heat," she says of the hot months in central Florida. "I just treat those hot days like I did blizzards in the north--I don't go outside."
She has been writing since forever and facilitating creative writing workshops and retreats since 2004. After moving to Florida, she learned of the African Americans who had worked on the muck farms surrounding Lake Apopka who became ill due to pesticide exposure. Many died or became seriously ill. When she discovered that a book from the African American point of view had not been written. She embarked on a four and a half year journey of interviewing, transcribing, and writing. Her book, Fed Up: The High Cost of Cheap Food, was picked up by the University Press of Florida and reviewed by journals around the world.