An Ironic Path to Organic

a father and his crop duster 1950's

Someone asked me awhile back if I came along the path of organic and alternative agriculture because of my family background.

Ah, life is full of ironies.

My dad made his living after World War II as a crop duster.

At dawn each spring and summer morning through the 1950’s, Dad would take off in his airplane and swoop low over emerging fields of corn, alfalfa and wheat, dispensing cocktails of DDT, chlordane, and other chemicals.

It was the heyday of Better Living through Chemistry, and a few years before Rachel Carson authored Silent Spring, the book credited with launching the modern environmental movement.

The best farmers, according to the conventional wisdom of the day, were those that sprayed their fields before they noticed any harmful insects among the crops.

Dad’s crop dusting career ended abruptly one morning when he inhaled a bit of the chemical he was spraying, became disoriented, and ran his plane into a power line. Miraculously, he walked away.

But the lingering effects weren’t so abrupt.

We moved to a little village in the Colorado mountains shortly afterward, but the legacy of crop-dusting and cigarette smoking followed my father. Even the fresh air of Allenspark couldn’t correct the damage.

In a way, my family background did lead me to a passion for organic and alternative agriculture. For one, I don’t have to be convinced that there is a high cost for food cheaply produced with toxic chemicals.

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