New book explores the history of Florida's Lake Apopka and the impact of pesticides on farm workers
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05/14/14 Robert Lorei
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photo by University Press of Florida


Just a few miles to the west and north of Orlando- sits Lake Apopka. The third largest lake in Florida. It was once home to some of the best freshwater fishing in all of Florida. The lake supported thousands of birds and alligators.

In the early 1940’s the lowlands surrounding Lake Apopka were turned into farms- some of the most productive farms in all of Florida. the soil was some of the richest in the state. At the same time- what were then modern chemicals were used in large amounts- DDT, Chlordane, Toxaphene—to keep down the pest population and spur the growth of tomato, corn and the many other fruits and vegetables that grew along its banks.

In time the pristine water of Lake Apopka turned neon green, there were massive bird kills, the fishing declined and alligators grew up with deformed genitals. The effect on the animal populations was widely covered at the time. But what about the humans who worked on the farms? Their stories are gathered in a brand new book- FED UP: THE HIGH COST OF CHEAP FOOD written by Dale Finley Slongwhite

Today on Radioactivity, Rob Lorei speaks with author Dale Finely Slongwhite and Jeannie Economos Pesticide Safety and Environmental Health Project Coordinator at Farmworker Association of Florida.

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