Like millions of farmworkers who have labored in America’s fields and orchards, I know what it’s like to grow the food we eat using toxic pesticides. At 12, I worked as a “flag man,” waving in crop-dusting planes that would swoop down close to the plants — and us workers — to blast out a foggy spray of toxins that killed every bug in sight.
Along with the bugs, we were also sprayed.
Nobody told me these clouds of pesticides were dangerous, so I didn’t even wear a handkerchief over my face. My father almost died one time when a hose broke and exposed him to toxic fumes while he was applying ammonia treatments on a farm.
Many thousands of farmworkers, and some farmers, have been hospitalized and developed chronic, life-threatening illnesses from the chemicals we use to grow our food.