I used to practice mental health counseling and this brought to mind a study about an elderly man who had been a successful farmer but started battling severe depression and paranoia later in life.
The farmers around where I live seem to be some of the most wealthy, but most of them have inherited their farms from generations past. I suspect that with the increase in consumer desire for cleaner, less toxic foods, farmers will start to feel a stronger pinch once this generation starts demanding less (cheap) pesticides. Some day people will realize that the USDA has a conflict of interest in representing both the farmer and the consumers and when(if ever) there are two separate organizations representing each, things will change and I guess I never really considered the impact this will make on farmers financially(at first).
I just finished watching "Growing Change". Wow. I had no idea about Venezuela's history with food, hunger, food for export, and this national project in food security. Ultimately, it seems that their oil wealth and consequent dependence on fossil fuels appears to be hindering their goal of food sovereignty. Nonetheless, what a very real and, hopeful for all of us, project. I needed to see this. Thank you very much BILBY4 for the recommendation.
Fitness Minutes: (150,113) Posts: 1,480 9/27/12 8:28 P
It's hard to know if the statistics even pick up the effects of pesticides. I grew up in a strawberry growing areas, indeed strawberry picking was my first paid job. One of my friends inherited the family strawberry farm and ran it very successfully for years. Eventually the doctors told him it was either go organic or quit because cumulative exposure to chemicals had damaged his nervous system so much he was in danger of being 'tipped over the edge' and ending up paralysed. He ended up leaving the business altogether and now does landscape gardening. But he's lost quite a lot of quality of life...where does that get recorded and analysed? Another strawberry farmer friend died of brain cancer this year at age 50, which might not be related to his use of pesticides, but may well be. In any case it goes down in the records as death attributable to brain cancer, regardless of the deeper circumstances behind that.
current weight: 146.0
Fitness Minutes: (150,113) Posts: 1,480 9/27/12 10:09 A
Go Venezuela! The more I look into this topic of international farmer suicide, the more I despair. 'Growing Change' looks like it documents an exciting and positive national project. I shall, and need to, watch it very soon.
It seems that Australia is the only country conducting serious multi-year studies on farmer suicides.
I've also been reading that with exposure to pesticides, one is 50%-80% (depending on the type of pesticide) to be diagnosed with clinical depression. Furthermore, the SSRIs often used to treat the depression may actively increase the risk of suicide. This doesn't surprise me.
"But Larry grew increasingly neurotic and obscene. I mean, he never asked to be raised from the tomb. I mean, no one ever actually asked him to forsake his dreams."
From, 'Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!' Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Edited by: PETALIA at: 9/27/2012 (10:24)
Fitness Minutes: (182,881) Posts: 2,073 9/27/12 4:48 A
“In 1890, researchers for the U.S. Census Bureau ranked professions that had the highest rate of suicide. Tailors, accountants, bookkeepers, clerks, and copyists suffered the most. At the bottom of the list was a career least likely to lead to self-harm: farming. Today, the suicide rate for American farmers is double the national average for everyone else.”
“Several recent studies, including a report by the USDA, have attempted to understand why many farmers are struggling emotionally. Some farmers who are asked about the high rates of suicide speak of a sense of loss: the loss of community, the loss of income, and not least, the loss of independence. Many rural farmers say that they are increasingly paid less for more work, and they owe more today for their seeds, fertilizers, equipment, and pesticides. They work one or two jobs outside of their farm in order to stay on their land. They feel ashamed that they cannot be self-sufficient in the way they believe their ancestors were. Instead of growing many crops, they plant hundreds of acres of corn or soybeans. They spray their fields with fertilizer and work off the farm while the corn grows. At the end of the season, the crop is harvested with a large combine. This is an agriculture controlled by large machines. The land and the people on it are only units of production. The farmer may be compelled to grow on a scale that is uncomfortably large to him. He may borrow money for equipment he can’t afford, and he may never meet the people (or the industrial animals) who eat what he produces.”
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