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Chelsea Green Blog

WATCH: Will Allen’s Presentation from Bioneers, 2007

In this video, Will Allen, author of The War on Bugs, speaks about the history of toxic pesticides and his work to raise awareness about their dangers at Bioneers by the Bay, 2007. The War on Bugs tells the story of how American farmers in the mid-1900s were convinced that dangerous chemicals were not just good business but, “Necessary, Critical, Essential, Modern, Progressive, Profitable, Economical,  Miraculous, even Heroic—all in capital letters.” From the Preface:
At farm field days, meetings, potlucks, and Farm Aid concerts, we began recounting how each of us had become convinced that farm chemicals were indispensable. All of us recalled how farmers,  extension agents, schoolteachers, feed store salesmen, and billboard ads claimed that the chemicals were miraculously effective and safe. As farm kids, we knew that the chemicals were effective. We knew that arsenic, nicotine, and lead killed pests and that the chemical fertilizers produced good yields, even though most of our folks  were small farmers who rarely used them. All of us knew, however, that the claims about safety  were B.S., because we would get our butts whipped if we went near the chemical storehouse. At my grandma’s farm in Hemet, California, she and my aunt repeatedly told us to keep away from the shed with the chemicals. At home, my mom would always warn us: “Remember Bobby Arbuckle? He played with arsenic, and he’s dead.” Then she would follow with, “And don’t forget that boy Danny what’s-his-name, who lived down the road—he got into that Black Leaf 40 tobacco poison and it burned him like a fire.”
Check out The War on Bugs, which is 25% off until July as part of our Gardening & Agriculture sale.


Inside the Rise of the Local Grains Movement

Our daily bread. Breaking bread together. Bread and butter. These are all common phrases that reflect bread’s foundational role in our diet and in the building of our civilization. The stored energy of grain first allowed our ancestors to shift from nomadic hunting and gathering to building settled communities—even great cities. So why in an […] Read More..

3 Ways Spraying More Herbicides on Public Land is Bad

The following is a guest post by Tao Orion, author of Beyond the War on Invasive Species. It is an open letter to the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regarding its proposal to add three new herbicides for invasive species management on western public lands. Find out below, how you can voice your concerns […] Read More..

Arid Agriculture: How to Reduce Heat Stress in Crops and Livestock

Regardless of where you stand on the climate change issue, there’s one reality few can deny. During the summer, many places in North America are now regularly suffering temperatures above 100˚F, whereas they rarely did in the past. It’s also widely known that such high temperatures put heat stress on crops that are not very […] Read More..

When it Comes to Invasive Species, Just Say NO to Eradication

What if we looked beyond the notion of invasive species as enemies, and instead harnessed them for beneficial uses? Beyond the War on Invasive Species offers just such a bold alternative to the chemical and intensive eradication efforts, one that is holistic and inspired by permaculture principles. First-time author Tao Orion makes a compelling case […] Read More..

A Conversation with Medicinal Herb Farmers Jeff and Melanie Carpenter

In their new book, The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer, Jeff and Melanie Carpenter offer a business guide and farming manual on how to successfully grow and market organic medicinal herbs. The Carpenters cover the basic practical information any grower needs to get an organic herb farm up and running, including size and scale considerations, soil […] Read More..