Missing from this picture: Tobacco.
Horses now graze in "The Tobacco Field" at Antebellum Farm. All the area
between the rider and the tree line used to be devoted to tobacco production.
It's almost Tobacco Harvest time for my old hometown of Lexington, KY but just as the fields of tobacco in the surrounding countryside have nearly vanished because of the 2004 tobacco quota buyout program, most of the old tobacco warehouses have been torn down. Gone is the oppressive haze that used to hang over the city as the tobacco crop was hauled in. I don't miss it.
Growers of tobacco have just a few short weeks to sign up. The deadline is November 1, 2011.The Depression Era system of quotas and subsidies has been dismantled and money for the buyout comes from tobacco manufacturers and importers. To read more on the ending of tobacco quotas, subsidies and the Fair & Equitable Tobacco Reform Act of 2004: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=toba&topic=landing
Lexington and the rest of the nation has been inching towards a smoke-free economy for some time. Cigarettes are now made from imported tobacco.Think about that. When every farm grew a little tobacco or sold their quota to another grower, harvesting was done by seasonal labor. Now all that goes overseas to huge farms and who knows what abuses are being committed against the workers and what is getting put on the crop?
Ick. Tobacco is a nasty plant whether growing in the field, hanging in the barn or being hauled to the warehouse. But the stuff that gets put on tobacco?
Quoting from dear old Wikipedia: "In the United States, tobacco is often fertilized with the mineral apatite, which partially starves the plant of nitrogen, to produce a more desired flavor. Apatite, however, contains radium, lead 210, and polonium 210—which are known radioactive carcinogens."
In addition the tobacco plants get sprayed with insecticides in the middle of the summer. The idea is to wait until the weather is dry so rain doesn't wash the insecticides off. They didn't wash the plants when they harvested them--they just dried them off and "cured" them. However, the insecticide on the tobacco doesn't really matter. The tobacco plant can be used to MAKE insecticides.
It seems strange that an insecticide-producing plant would have problems, but tobacco gets eaten by some of the most grotesque critters outside a science fiction horror flick. Take a peek if you dare:
So if the US crop was fertilized with radioactive junk, loaded with insecticide outside and inside and was still eaten by gross creatures, just imagine what could be in the overseas tobacco that will be in your cigarettes tomorrow. How does chewing tobacco instead of smoking sound now?