[Trigger warning for slavery and other dehumanization]
I recently finished reading Barry Estabrook’s excellent book, Tomatoland. I won’t spend much time promoting it, because holy cow the folks at Andrews McMeel have [TW] gotten the word out.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about abortion rights, because that’s been in the news once or twice lately. That’s unfortunate, because holy cow given the war that powerful people are waging against reproductive health, it should be in the news a helluva lot more frequently.
That was pretty much my vacation: tomatoes and abortion.
Stay with me here.
Estabrook’s book explores Florida’s industrial tomato industry. Early on, he explores the conditions under which many tomato workers labor. There’s a chapter on poisons, and a chapter on slavery. I’m not sure I recommend taking Tomatoland to the beach.
As an occasional entomologist, the discussion of pesticides caught my eye. It turns out that the EPA allows growers to use methyl bromide on tomato crops (they’re one of four crops the EPA has carved out exemptions for). Methyl bromide is the stuff of legend. If you’re ever at a party with an entomologist (I recommend this), buy hir a drink and start talking about methyl bromide. That shit kills everything. Needless to say, bathing in the stuff can be “problematic” (you can thank Wikipedia for that phrasing). Read more…