Local Organizer Offers Shining Example of Successful Activism
Joe Speeney is a dynamo, the kind of guy who get things done. Galled by the pesticide spraying that he saw as a threat to his son’s health several years ago, he has since taken action by organizing lectures, creating other educational campaigns, helping to pass local legislation.
The Environmental Working Group has recently released their Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce. This list provides health conscious shoppers with a list of the Best and Worst fruits and vegetables based on the amount of pesticide residues detected on them. The full list can be found at http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/
Keith Starvrum stands on the banks of Willapa Bay, where the low tide has revealed long lines of mudflats speckled with empty oyster shells. The sun is making a rare appearance in southwestern Washington State, but the perfect spring weather fails to cheer up the lumbering Starvrum, whose loud outbursts and biting sarcasm keep his employees' eyes rolling. He served overseas as a special ops soldier in his youth and he has some interesting things to say about the recent uprisings in Arab countries and the CIA's dirty habit of quietly "rearranging" governments amid apparent political turmoil. But he has a lot more to say about oysters.
Starvrum points to a lone oysterman gathering the day's catch from neighboring mudflats and shakes his head. Starvrum used to harvest oysters from the thick mud exposed by the low tide, but he has not brought in a catch in three years. He refuses to participate in the lucrative business, a traditional mainstay of the local economy, because the pesticides sprayed on adjacent mudflats drifted onto his oyster beds.
"That's why we don't sell our oysters, 'cause we know what they're in," Starvrum says. "But when we do, they will be 100 times better." Other oystermen have used pesticides to kill pests for generations, but Starvrum did it differently. He harvested oysters by hand, without using chemicals, and hauled them right from the bay to the kitchen of a small hotel on the same property. The rest were shipped to natural foods restaurants. Starvrum says his oyster farm was "as organic as you can be in Willapa Bay."
This article explains the history, cost, and future of lawns in America.
Re: "We need to change our tune if songbirds are to survive," Naomi Lakritz, Opinion, June 14, "Weed wisdom," Letter, June 14, and "Start spraying," Letter, June 14.
I challenge all those who state pesticides are not dangerous to humans. Would you take a bottle of it and drink it, even one sip, and expect no serious side-effects?
Editor`s Note: This month`s newsletter was supposed to focus on organic lawn care. Instead the following multi-part story ensued which in all my training in writing short story fiction, plays, novels, I could not have invented. Unfortunately it is not a pretty story and speaks of this toxic addiction that has taken over middle class suburban America…. It is also a story of the rich and super rich, the epidemic that is pesticide ridden landscaping that has taken over and destroying our health, our water and our planet!
Ahhhh Needham.....For those of you who are unfamiliar with my natal village, we are celebrating our 300th year of New England quaintness with steepled churches, including a Unitarian that dates to revolutionary pewter and stark whiteness. Modern Needham is brick public buildings including the recently refurbished public library. N.C. Wyeth, talented 19th century illustrator of Civil Wars and 'Indian raids' was born and raised in Needham. He is scion to the Wyeth legacy, Andrew and Jamie. Our library's front parlor houses numerous original N.C. Wyeth oil paintings, always wondering about value and adequate insurance.