The Most (UN)Wonderful Time of the Year…Thanks to Monsanto

Paso Robles is on the teetering point of falling so blessedly into Spring: the almonds trees are definitely in bloom, daffodils have emerged, our native pollinators have taken flight, chicks are hatching! Spring is renewal, revival, rebirth and DEATH.

This is the time of year we have to drive around with blinders on our eyes, as every country-road corner in progressive/green/eco-friendly California boasts a freshly sprayed patch of land that is a highlighter-yellow-fluorescent-orange evidence of herbicide use. In past blogs I have refrained from naming Round Up as the most commonly used herbicide spray, but as Wikipedia points it out, I may as well too. Heck, it is proudly crowding the doorways of our neighborhood agricultural feed/supply stores (as well as the baby chicks under heat lamps).

While on the subject of Wikipedia, read the link on Round Up here…it will make your skin crawl! Phrases like “…another important ingredient is [the wetting agent] polyethoxylated tallow amine…which increases herbicide penetration in plant and animal cells. PENETRATION IN ANIMAL CELLS! Now, an oath to my free-range chickens, cows, sheep, my 2 precious doggies and 3 cats–you have no chance of having this nightmarish toxicity penetrating your dear selves! (Not to mention my millions of bees.)

Now a fair word for Monsanto, and this found on their website: “Round Up agricultural herbicides and other products are used to sustainably an[d] effectively control weeds on the farm.” SUSTAINABLY?? (This is a perfect example of why this is the most asinine word tossed around these days.) Spraying a product that has the capability to morph plant and animal cells is NOT sustainable. (By the way Monsanto, if this were true, then why these superweeds that are now resistant to Round Up because of the repeated exposure?)

We hear people say herbicides are just soap-like/salt-like products. But then why the need to wear a mask when applying? Oh yeah, and if spraying copious amounts, a permit is required and it often comes with suggestions to wear a protective outer layer over one’s clothing. Harmless it is not.

And to the general public: the “brown and green corduroy” you see this time of year in the vineyards and orchards IS NOT NORMAL Spring growth. Every field, every fence line, every driveway, every row under the vine, EVERYTHING should be green! If you care about this widespread use at all, and the effects of herbicides on our plants/animals/soils and water, please support those farmers and markets who refuse to spray. Having a hoe in hand is a much better option (not to mention, it may be another route to tackle obesity in today’s age, a little physical labor can go a long way…just a thought).

Winter Rains = Chemical Herbicides

This time of year Phillip and I drive around with blinders on our eyes. Even to the point where we’ve declared to each other we need to leave our area during this time. Just the 5 mile drive to our favorite farm stand, Nature’s Touch, in Templeton creates anxiety, bewilderment and frustration. Yes–we, as a collective group of ranchers/farmers/landowners/residents, welcome with outstretched and up stretched arms rain, yet we hasten to then don our sprayers to apply chemical herbicides to our fence lines, to the grasses growing under the rows of vines, to the 3 feet around our fruit trees, under our olive trees, around road signs, barns, sidewalks (public and private), trees in our parks, and the list goes on and on. With the advent of rain, California transforms overnight from our dried and burned landscape to lush, green, ripe fields–burgeoning with native grasses, wheat, weeds, wildflowers. But how dare such wonders grow in unwanted places! So herbicides are applied, to kill. And indeed, the vibrant green changes to yellow and red as the growth is dying. Whatever pollinators (honey bees, bumble bees, native bees, butterflies, moths, birds) have happened to land also reap the herbicides. I often wonder if the earthworms, too, die as quickly as the grasses and weeds. And take a look at the people applying herbicides–they are wearing gloves, masks, some even wear full body suits. How ironic–unsafe to breathe, but okay to eat the fruit from that sprayed tree?

This is a time for you, too, to look around and perhaps apply the blinders–are your favorite vineyards, orchards, gardens and farms also spraying? The telltale sign is yellow and red and death amidst vibrant, natural green. And if you care, then apply the “blinders” where necessary.