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What I’m not up to…

Pesticide fill-up

Don’t know who that is in the photo…it’s not me! I last posted this image—I found it online; I think it’s public domain; he’s loading up a herbicide called alachlor—in an October, 2007 post, And now for something completely different… I like the image. It’s a way for me to make quick sense of this organic tiny farming, so I guess I’ll post it every so often, as a reminder, until something better comes along… I have zero first-hand experience with industrial agriculture or its direct effects, all I know about it is what I’ve read and eaten (and I think I’m doing OK so far). I do know that things are never the same when you’re on the inside, so when I think Big Ag is all wrong, it’s just a semi-educated guess. I haven’t seen it DO wrong in person, and (unfortunately), it still feeds me part of the time. But when I see a picture like this, and compare it with what I do in the field, the contrast is pretty clear. With all of the mind-numbing complexities of the green/what-have-we-done-to-the-planet-and-what-should-we-do-now- to-fix-it/save-ourselves debate, I can simplify: I immensely enjoy growing food for people, and I don’t want to be that guy…



  1. That picture also reminds me why I have a garden each year.  Eeeeewwwww. 

  2. Xavier

    and don’t forget what could happened with fertilizer and pork manure, I am french and even tough I lived in the US, I am really sucked by that : ” The Green Wave ” or the nasty green things that turn a wonderful beach in a nasty stinky place

    Don’t give up in your tiny farming and personally, I will do my vegetable garden ….

  3. I totally agree.  The more I learn about chemicals in the garden, the more scary it is.

  4. Amy

    I’m so glad I can garden this year and there are farmers like you all over. I just love driving through farm land and have some plane dump chemicals on my van….

  5. Hear, hear. Go Mike!

  6. Yes! Ugh, there he is all suited up like he’s in a war zone, and those nasty chemicals are going on to *food we eat*. This is the encouragement I needed today to keep hacking at my new veggie beds

  7. Well said. Although I do see a million reasons not to eat industrial ag products (though I am not completely weaned yet myself) the picture really does say a thousand words, doesn’t it?

  8. scary…I mean, just scary…but what a hypocrite I am…I can’t always afford organic, and this is the first year for me to have a garden that will be big enough for us to eat from for a while…

  9. Pobept

    Eeek, scary when you see then looking like men from outer space mixing herbicide’s or pesticides. But on the other hand, what you can and can afford to do on 2 acres is not cost effective on 200 or 2000 acre farms.
    I do think ag-chemicals are over used and many time  improperly applied.  With high crude prices ag-chemicals have doubled or tripled in price, this may be good side benefit of higher priced crude.

  10. This is a moving picture but I can’t say it’s indicative of all commercial farming. “Big Ag” has its place just as Organic does. I appreciate and support both and really think that it’s an economic question. -As long as farmers can afford to produce, and buyers will pay a premium for organic, go for it. I wrote on the topic back in February where I addressed European GMO. ( ) Bottom-line, I am glad to be able to buy my organic tomatoes because they taste better and I like the guy who grows them, but if you or I lived in an area of the world that is more prone to drought and nasty pests, and your best chance for making a nice living or feeding your family is farming, you might want a little more help than what organic framing practices can provide.
    Thanks for the chance to weigh in.
    Alex Tiller

  11. Uncle B

    We have to nuke sewage and apply it to the land for fertilizer, Quit using water powered toilets and make “Humanure” as per Sweden, to replenish our topsoil, remember urine is a fantastic fertilizer, and get GMO’ed bug proof super growing veggies to feed the starving masses of urbanites, about to be tossed out of work and totally defenseless against the foreign investors who own the now bankrupting food suppliers ! The (GRD) great republican depression was not voted away with the election of Obama, the banks are still closing, GM is failing. Chrysler is splitting up into Fiat, Ford is carrying a heavy ball and chain and the war in Iraq rages on! Oil is not going to suddenly spurt out of Obama-land, and the OPEC and Saudi boys still intend shipping less oil for more dollars, mostly in admission to the fact that they are running out of oil – our most dreaded tragedy! We must go Solar, Wind and Wave energies (perpetual energy outside propagandaland USA) before it is too late, and we have to struggle for resources to do so, but will we, or will we do as in the past, take the shortest cut to a steak dinner, pay whatever is asked, put the bill on our credit cards and suffer the consequences later, even a generation later? Is Dawn setting on the American Empire? Is the party over? Will we need aspirin for the hangover? Who Cares?

  12. DeadlyRed

    Well I’ve personally used Lasso, and I can attest that that suit is complete overkill. As stated before, this picture does speak a thousand words. It speaks that on the label of the chemical this is what the EPA describes as what one should where when handling the raw product (not too sure about the gas mask part though.) And as Amy said “Yes! Ugh, there he is all suited up like he’s in a war zone, and those nasty chemicals are going on to *food we eat*.” First off, all of those ‘nasty’ chemicals in the food? I’d love to see the actual amount of this chemical that can be found in your food once purchased from your local grocer since these types of things are sprayed or applied at a time when the crop is at a very small stage, and it is only in the rarest case that the chemical is applied to the fruits themselves (i.e. corn seeds, tomatoes, you catch my drift.) And anyways, if this chemical was able to be absorbed and synthesized by the crop, it would kill it. Just my two cents. Thank god that we have agriculture that is advanced enough to provide the safest and most abundant food supply our planet has ever known.

  13. Mellifera

    Here’s why I’m glad I’m not that guy–
    The stuff that goes out on crops is super-diluted, the part of pesticide application that requires the most protective gear is when you’re mixing it together (like this guy) because you’re working with a very concentrated ingredient.  If he was just doing the spraying part you’d probably see a lot less protective gear.
    Anyway, applying pesticides is more complicated than most people (and I’d have to hazard, most farmers even) appreciate.  You have to wear the protective equipment… in hot summer weather.  Yeah right!  How often do you think farmers (and migrant farm workers) actually suit themselves up like that?  Technically you’re also supposed to fill the machine with water and measure the output on every single nozzle on your sprayer with a stopwatch before each spraying (it can be up to 40+ nozzles on the big rigs), and make sure they’re not worn out.  Every time!  I really can’t persuade myself that that’s always done.  Or even most of the time.  Without the pre-spray calibration check you wind up with possible drift, and can easily apply the wrong amount spottily all over the field.
    After each work day you have to drain that tank, rinse it out, and dispose of both the leftovers and the wash water in a safe manner.  Also dubious.
    So anyway, I do get annoyed with people who object to the idea organic farming on the grounds that it’s “too much work.”

  14. Josh

    As a third generation farmer I believe that there is a lot of misconceptions of Industrial agriculture. Farmers use chemicles like the one in the picture as little as possible. The man in the picture is wearing a suit to protect him from a very concentrated chemical when in reallity the chimicle is diluted dozens of times before it is sprayed onto a  field. If it wernt for these chemicls insects would destroy our nations crops and starvation would follow.

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