Writing about conventionally grown (which really means chemically grown) potatoes this week, our memories were triggered. Where had we heard about farmers who grow separate plots of potatoes for their own use, afraid to eat the potatoes they sell to stores and fast-food restaurants?
Several places, it turns out—including a book written two decades ago.
In “Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment,” Sandra Steingraber recounts how she was diagnosed with cancer in her early twenties, and how several members of her adoptive family were also cancer victims.
Because she was adopted, genetics weren’t to blame for the cancer that afflicted her and other members of her family. So what did they have in common?
They lived on, and were surrounded by, conventional farms in the Midwest. Where, as Steingraber wrote in her book, they grew separate plots of potatoes for their own use—because the potatoes they grew for sale were so laden with pesticides.
“Living Downstream” is still in print. It was also turned into a documentary film.
It’s just as, if not more, relevant today than it was in 1997.