Chemical Spraying

Any one living here in South Florida has most likely seen people spraying their lawns and plants with chemicals and fertilizers. They intend to keep their lawns perfect and green. Afterwards, their kids and pets will probably roll around in these lawns and pick the sprayed flowers completely oblivious to the dangers that come with their actions. People are using chemicals like vermicides, pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers either without knowledge or worry of its dangers.
 
Vermicides are chemicals used to get rid of organisms like worms. Worms cause problems because they leave “worm casts” or digested pieces of earth all over lawns that they live under. They also attract birds who defecate on lawns and peck threw them to get the worms for food.
 
 Herbicides are used to get rid of weeds, and pesticides are used to kill bugs so that they don’t eat the plants or lay eggs on them.
 
Many people do not realize that using chemicals like these to improve the look of your lawn and other plants have down sides that are not as well advertised. For example, vermicides often work by raising the acidity of the soil in a lawn because highly acidic soil is not appealing to worms. According to a study done by Oklahoma State University, high levels of acidity in soil cause crop failure because the acidic chemicals in the soil stop roots from being able to collect water and/or nutrients.
 
Now, who wants to use chemicals to fix one problem when they just cause another?
 
Pesticides work by damaging the nervous system of pests, but they also have bad effects on humans. According to health articles, “Pesticides effects on humans are damage to the nervous system, reproductive system and other organs, developmental and behavioral abnormalities, disruption of hormone function as well as immune dysfunction.” (PureZing online). How awful!
 
Similarly, herbicides used on lawns can contaminate soil and water sources in the area. Pets have been known to die due to damage from herbicides from lawns or gardens.
 
Although not all of the bad effects of chemicals are shown quickly, over time these chemicals add more and more damage to human and animal bodies and resources. The bad effects of these chemicals definitely seem to outweigh the good ones over time.
 
 Chemicals are used to make lawns look cleaner and greener, and to keep bugs and worms away from them. However, worms help by turning the soil and making it better for plant growth. Also, according to an article published in the “Sustainable Rose Garden” in 2008, much of the chemical use only makes plants more vulnerable in the long run. The writer of the article, Paul Zimmerman, treated some roses with natural mixtures, like manure, fish emulsion, and other homemade combinations, to keep them healthy and bug free.
 
 He discovered that compared to his chemically treated roses the naturally treated ones were better able to fight disease. The chemically treated roses were stripped of their natural defenses to things like mildew.
 
With all of the problems that chemical spraying causes for humans, animals, and plants, it does not seem worth it to add negative things to our beautiful environment when there are natural, less harmful alternatives. We can still have clean, nice lawns and flowers without all of those different chemical sprays, and anyway, what’s so bad about some worms and some dandelions??Definitely check out http://paulzimmermanroses.com/?page_id=110 for more information on the dangers of chemicals on plant life.
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Migrant Farm Workers

South Florida tends to be a hotspot for immigrants as it is on a coast and close to the Central and South American countries.

Many people consider migrant workers on farms to be the victims of modern day slavery, working in difficult conditions for substandard pay. According to Florida Legal Services, three-quarters of farm workers in Florida are immigrants. The average age of a farm worker is 35. About a quarter of the farm workers are women. Many of these women deal with sexual harassment on a daily basis. Farm workers also lack pension plans, paid vacations, and sick leave. Some farms do not even provide toilets for their workers if there are less than six (Florida legal online).

Honestly, not many people want to be a  worker on a farm.

 As horrible as many of these conditions are, some are doing an excellent job working to improve the conditions for Florida migrant workers. For example, a writer for the New York Times pointed out the improvements done by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers who work to improve conditions by investigating slavery and negotiating with fast food restaurants to get more money for the workers (Schlosser online).

The Immokalee workers make a definite impact in South Florida for immigrant workers who are mistreated. “The Anti-Slavery Campaign has resulted in freedom for more than a thousand tomato and orange pickers held in debt bondage.” (Coalition of Immokalee Workers online).

Not all immigrant workers are mistreated in Florida. For example, C&B farms, and organic farm in Clewiston, FL, is an example of a farm that has decently paid farm workers with adequate housing. Chuck Obern, the owner of C&B farms, may not allow his workers the weekend off, but they pay a low price for their housing ($54 a month i believe), and on average they work about 5-7 hours a day.
 
Obern believes he’s giving his workers the best opportunities that he can. He doesn’t give them the weekend off because in his experience, many of his workers drink their hard earned money away on the weekends. He also has a no drinking policy in his housing.
 
 However, when I visited his farm and talked to some of the workers I found out that they make on average $500 a week. That is a decent $26,000 salary. When Chuck Obern is offering an opportunity like that, how can Florida’s unemployment rate be 10.7%? How can 987,012 in the state of Florida not have a job?
 
I admit that I myself would not take that job unless it was my very last resort, but for many people in South Florida it is coming to that time. Chuck Obern says he struggles to find workers every year. Not many people ask for a job at C& B Farms. His housing is less than half full.
 
I know that times are hard, and there are many people in our society that cannot work jobs like that. However, almost 100, 000 people do not have jobs here. Do so many people think working a job like that is worse than collecting unemployment? Maybe.
 
Just something to think about.
 
Natasha