Do you like strawberries? I do. I not only like them, I love them. Reason being, it brings back memories of childhood and the spring of the year for me. Spring is my favorite season because it is a new beginning of the year, a fresh start. That brings to mind another new beginning for me — the starting point of our own demise at the hands of Corporate America.
Step back into the past history of our farms and strawberries. When I was a child, they were about the size of a nickel or a quarter and so sweet, I could not get enough of them. Today, I have seen them the size of a hen’s egg with no flavor, as were the last two pounds that I bought. They came from corporate farms. I could not eat them. My goats loved them, because they did not know any better. The past that I talk about goes back to pre-World War II.
During this time period there were no chemical fertilizers, and if there were, there was very little to be had for the average farmer. The farmer of that day and time took pride in what he was growing for his family and his neighbors. Sure he wanted to make a living just like all people. One thing that he did not do, he did not poison people to make a dollar. Today you have seen the small farmer being run out of business all because he can not compete with the overwhelming corporate farms that control everything that goes into our children’s bodies. The poor of America are the ones who are paying the price with their lives cut short. As I have written in the past, look at the size of our children today. I have a friend that has a 12-year-old son; he is 6-foot-2 ,weighs over 220 and is still growing. This, of course, is just not natural.
Prior to WWII, people ate fried foods and it was fried in lard. But they worked and the work was physical. I am not saying that the lard was good for you, but it was a natural food that did not have a chemical base as most foods do today. Did you know that margarine is just one molecule from being plastic? It’s all about the dollars that these companies want to take out of your and my pocket.
Monsanto, DuPont, and Conagra are and were the major players in the production of insecticides. Sure they were needed to kill off the hordes of bugs the farmers were fighting — in a never-ending battle with grasshoppers, corn borers and ants that ate everything. Agricultural groups had been fighting with reformers who wanted to place limits on the amount of pesticide residue that could be found on food and they were right to do this. Arsenic was used on the apple crops. If it will kill bugs, in time it will kill humans — and it did.
I know I am jumping around a bit, but I will come full circle. One of the sad facts of war is that more people in the past have died from disease than from battle. During the Civil War, 373,458 people died from disease and accidents, where as 185,000 from 1860 to 1865 would die in battle. From 1941 to 1945, 292,000 Americans died in battle and another 115,000 died from disease and other causes. The reason for the decrease in deaths during WWII was due to the chemical know as DDT. It was discovered by a Swiss chemist. It was shown that it would kill bugs. Scientists from around the world knew that the diseases of typhus and malaria were carried by fleas and mosquitoes. At this time, the worlds governments jumped on the chance of being able to save their troops with the DDT powder. It did what it was designed to do. DDT saved lives — but in the end, it would take lives. It was proven that DDT caused male infertility, miscarriages and low birth weights, developmental delays, nervous system and liver damage. There were studies that went back as far as the late 50s that showed what this chemical was doing to people. But the money was more important.
DDT showed chemists how to develop other insecticides and herbicides. Very quickly, chemists were making up new chemicals to kill insects and weeds. Soon after the war ended, the chemical age began. By 1952, there were more than 10,000 new pesticides on the market for the farmers to use, and use them they did. They were used on us in the round-about way of the agriculture chemical business. I know with some people, they will tell you that you have to take the good with the bad. Why? Why should I have to take death with the low cost of an ear of corn? I know this helped to have greater crop yields and lower prices at the market. But in the long run, it has not been cost-effective. Look at the cost of treating someone who has been poisoned through what they have ingested. The government will tell you that it is all for the greater good of the people. The people they are talking about is not the average man and woman. It’s all about the fat cats and how much fatter they can get off of your food dollar. But that’s just off of the insecticides.
The herbicides, such a treat for the troops. Just look at the cost of Agent Orange on the lives of our men and women who fought in Southeast Asia. It was such a wonderful defoliant, a gift from Monsanto. The gift that keeps on giving some 50 years after the fact of it being sprayed all over the jungles and our troops. What’s the problem? It worked, it killed the jungles. Yes it did work. It worked too good. The people who produced it knew it was bad and it did not matter. It was all about production and money. From 1961 to 1974 the chemical dioxin was sprayed onto almost 5 million acres at the unbelievable number of 20 million gallons. It was not only used to kill forest cover, but it also killed crops that might have been used to feed the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops. The health issues would not be just a problem for the troops, but their families as well. Tumors, birth defects in children, rashes — as well as cancer — these disorders have eaten our men to the bone. The Vietnamese people still suffer from this chemical as well.
I know of two families who lived in Obion County, Tennessee that are gone as a direct effect of this dioxin spray. Both were close and dear friends. The vets came home after being in the same area of Vietnam and being sprayed. Both men would be married and have children. The children would die before reaching the age of 6 years old. They would die from leukemia. Both of their mother’s would never see the age of 50. They also would die from leukemia. It was brought home in the blood of their fathers. In time, their fathers would suffer the same fate.
Lawsuits were brought against many U.S. companies, and in the case of the American suit, that was settled back in 1991. Lawsuits brought on behalf of the Vietnamese victims were all thrown out. Seems their lives and their children did not matter in the scheme of things. Modern-day living has come at a cost to all of us. Health issues will continue to plague the world. I also understand that we have gone forward, but the generation after the baby boomers are having more health problems than the past generations. This is all due to the chemical make up of what goes on and into the food chain. The poison is on the land and us.
Robert Lee is a concerned citizen and U.S. Marine veteran who owns and operates Rockingham Guns and Ammo. His column appears here each Saturday.