You are here: home   Issues   Serendipity in the Desert   Toxic soil, East to West
Topic: Mining & Agriculture     Department: Letters

Toxic soil, East to West

Document Actions

I read with interest Rebecca Clarren's article about lead arsenate and other chemicals contaminating old orchard sites in the West (HCN, 12/6/10). Alas, as we Eastern morel foragers have discovered, one does not have to go West to encounter this problem. In a recent paper, Elinoar Shavit, a fellow member of the New York Mycological Society, found that morel mushrooms gathered in deteriorating apple orchards -- a favored hunting environment in this part of the world -- can contain unacceptable quantities of old insecticides.

When Shavit presented her findings at a talk in New York City, an audience member was brought almost to tears. He had recently purchased an abandoned orchard with the intent of farming it organically. The soil was almost certainly so contaminated he would never be able to obtain organic certification.

Given the frequent occurrence of residents discovering chemical "snakes" in their new dream-home woodpiles, perhaps an old slogan should be modified:  "Those who do not know their history are condemned to eat it."  

Charles Luce
Weehawken, New Jersey

poisoned soils
Don Smith
Don Smith
Jan 25, 2011 03:36 PM
Another example: In my Midwest vet practice, a client occasionally lost an animal or two on land he'd bought for grazing. It had supported a large orchard long before. Acute arsenic poisoning was the culprit, but we never found the contaminated site which attracted the cows.

Email Newsletter

The West in your Inbox

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! Follow our RSS feeds!
  1. A graceful gazelle becomes a pest | Inrroducing an African gazelle called the oryx for...
  2. The man behind a New Mexico county's fracking ban | Last year Mora became the first county in the nati...
  3. Plains sense | Ten years after Frank and Deborah Popper first pro...
  4. What's killing the Yukon's salmon? | An ecological mystery in Alaska has scientists and...
  5. Salmon go down the tubes – literally | Washington biologists test pressurized tubes to tr...
HCN Classifieds
Subscriber Alert
More from Mining & Agriculture
A bison boost for Native economies
North Dakota wrestles with radioactive oilfield waste Regulators look at raising the limit for radiation amid a rash of illegal dumping.
In North Dakota, booms past and present A photographer returns home to examine changes to the landscape.
All Mining & Agriculture
© 2014 High Country News, all rights reserved. | privacy policy | terms of use | powered by Plone