In the time since Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring raised a warning flag about the dangers of rampant pesticide use we have come full circle as a nation of toxic chemical users. The outrage caused by Carson’s book sparked the environmental movement that swept America in the 60’s and 70’s. Though we have started to clean up certain sectors of the environment, other hazards continue. Pesticide poisoning of farm land and farm workers occurs throughout America.
The situation is most dramatic among the approximately 300,000 farm workers and their families who live and work in California’s Central Valley. The area is America’s richest food producing regions, yet the water, the air and the food carry known carcinogens. Years of using these chemicals have built up immunities in the pests; the farmers find they must use more of the pesticides each year to achieve the same results. Through out the Valley and particularly in the small grape growing towns of McFarland, Delano and Fowler, there have been regular poisonings of the population and dramatically increased incidences of cancer among farm workers, families and Valley residents not directly involved with agriculture. This project was funded by the National Press Photographers Association and Nikon Documentary Sabbatical Grant.