Why are there “DANGER” signs when you enter a Washington apple orchard?

While they may look pastoral and picturesque, Orchards are anything but.

Ever notice those signs along the orchards? They say things like “DO NOT ENTER” and “DANGER/PELIGRO”. That’s because of the disgusting pesticides that they spray to grow apples. Washington State isn’t such an environmentally friendly place, is it? At least not when you cross the Cascade mountains and get over to the Eastern or Central part of the state of Washington.

The apple growers are legally required to post these signs. IS THIS WHAT YOU CALL GROWING FOOD?

If you have to put up a sign because of toxicity issues, why would I want to eat what you are growing in that orchard?



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Apple Industry Excuses for Using Toxic Chemicals

So why are apple growers tainting the paradise that is Eastern Washington (beautiful areas like Lake Chelan, Manson, Yakima, Wenatchee, Orondo, Brewster, etc) with the continued use of toxic chemicals?
When I think of an apple grower (and I have met plenty) I think of a really hard-working and salt-of-the-earth person. Usually these people are full of common sense, and have extremely great character and moral values. So why are they clinging to this form of agriculture that is really “chemo-culture”; so heavily reliant upon chemicals?
It’s partly driven by the almighty dollar, and partly by willful blindness and a tendency to want to look the other way. Most growers see their farming as a nobel “way of life”. It’s hard for apple growers to admit that this “way of life” largely involves the use of toxic chemicals. And there are plenty of excuses to help look the other way.
Here are some common excuses I have heard from orchardists about the use of chemicals and pesticides, and my rebuttals:
1) We’ve been doing this a long time. Ahh… the time argument. Because you have been doing something for a long time, it somehow makes it right? Didn’t the South use that argument for Slavery in the 1860s? They sure did, but it did not make Slavery any more morally right. People smoked cigarettes for a “long time” and it took decades of awareness campaigns, and governmental intervention to bring out the truth. Now people recognize that smoking is a disgusting and cancer-causing habit. Just because people have done something for a long time, does not make it right.
2) This is a farming community. Deal with it. Well, farming may take up more physical size in the Chelan area, but actually all those million dollar vacation homes dotting the hills and the shores of Lake Chelan are the major donors to the local tax base.  I know of some people who pay upwards of $20,000 a year single-family vacation home property taxes. Who is really paying for the local police, schools, and infrastructure? Vacation homes.  Lake Chelan isn’t just a “farming community”. Don’t forget the service and hospitality industries, which attract thousands of tourists per year. Local Chelan restaurants and hotels like Campbell’s, Wapato Point, Darnell’s Resort, Peterson’s Waterfront Resort, add millions to the local economy.
3) We’re growing your food. Ahh, the “noble cause of farming” argument. Can you really call it “food”? I don’t eat non-organic apples. You could not pay me enough to eat them. I don’t eat apple pie that’s made from them. Nada. I don’t consider something laden with pesticide residue as “food”. Also, humans don’t need apples to survive, so your crop isn’t ‘mission critical’.
For most of human history, apples have been a luxury product; a treat to be savored. Apples don’t need to be super-cheap, and they wouldn’t be super-cheap if it weren’t for pesticides. Americans have become accustomed to the abundance that chemical-centric farming has provided.
It’s more than just apples. The American addiction to cheap “food” is killing and harming us. We end up with pesticide residue in our food, and we end up with “food” that is high in volume and low in nutrient density. If you are interested in learning more, be sure to check out Michael Pollan’s New York Times Bestseller In Defense of Food.  All sorts of studies are showing negative effects of GMOs and toxic pesticides. Consumers are becoming aware and shunning GMOs and pesticides, and the organic movement is growing rapidly.
4) We need to make a living. I definitely feel for people in this regard, because everybody needs to make a living. However, your personal financial needs don’t justify the negative impact of what you are doing. You’re selling a product with pesticide residue. In fact, Apples are #1 worst on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list of foods not to eat. You “making a living” does not justify spraying clouds of toxic chemicals into the air and all over your “food” in order to create a cost-effective product to sell.
Maybe it’s time to look on the bright side? If you live in Chelan, Orondo, or even Wenatchee, your real estate is valuable beyond orchards. There are lots of people looking for vacation homes. Sell out, and reinvent yourself in cleaner industry. Or, go Organic and get ahead of the curve, and joint the booming organic movement. You may have to learn new growing methods, you still have to spray things, but they’re better and safer than the way you’re doing it. The future is here already. You’re reading it right now. It’s time for growers to grow up, step into the modern age, and get with it!
5) We have the right to farm. Yes you do, but does “farming” mean involvement with toxic chemicals? Supporting Dow Chemical Company? Is that what “farming” means to you? That doesn’t sound like farming to me. It kinda sounds like the growers are slaves to the big chemical conglorates; addicted to cheap solutions for growing apples.
The “Right to Farm Act” is also usually invoked as an excuse by growers. This act gives certain allowances to farmers, certain protections from suburban development. It does not give you the right to spray your chemicals onto other people or their land. Frankly, why would you want to anyway? It’s disgusting and harmful to you, your family, and the community to be around these chemicals. Shame on you.
6) It’s a multi-billion dollar industry. Yep, I have heard that argument from one very wealthy orchardist. Are we really using the almighty dollar to justify the use of toxic chemicals?
The Washington apple industry produces only $2.18 billion dollars in product. That’s actually not a large part of the economy. Let’s compare. The US spends a $3 trillion on healthcare. Yeah, that’s trillion (with a T). That means the national healthcare industry is over 1400 times larger than the Washington Apple industry.
Or how about cancer treatment? Cancer treatment is estimated by the NCI to be about a $125 billion dollar industry.
You’ve got people like local reporters noticing the high cancer rates in Manson area of Lake Chelan. Maybe it’s time to take a look at historical farming practices, see what we can learn, and curtail the use of anything that may be harmful to humans, animals, and the environment. For our children at least?


6) You have to spray Organic crops too! Yeah, but not with the same toxic crap that you use on your non-organic crops. It’s way different, guys.



Lake Chelan: would you like some DDT in your trout?



Thanks again Washington Apple industry…. for polluting beautiful Lake Chelan (and surrounding smaller lakes). Ugh. This disgusts me and I hope more people learn about it.


The Washington State Department of Ecology did an extensive study of DDT and PCB in the Lake Chelan fish. Check out the DOE’s report from 2006: https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/documents/0503014.pdf



The place you REALLY don’t want to fish? Roses Lake! One of the picturesque smaller lakes in the hills of Manson. They STILL dump glyphosate (commonly known as the product RoundUp) into the water to clear up the algae. Makes all the lake home owners happy because they don’t want a stinky lake. Do they know that the means to achieve this end are courtesy of poison? They put a little sign up by the boat launch telling people it’s probably a bad idea to swim in there for a few days… UGH. Dumping chemicals into lakes. Why are people so stupid?


There is some good news. Well, not really. It’s only good news if you live uplake in the 25 Mile Creek region, you’ve got pretty clean water. The Lucerne Basin is not really impacted by this issue. Why? The study makes the curious point that there has been minimal AGRICULTURE there!



The orchard industry has kinda destroyed some beautiful lakes. I wouldn’t eat the fish from Lake Chelan or Roses Lake for a very long time.










Is Lake Chelan a fertile paradise, or chemical wasteland courtesy of apple and orchard growing?

The local Lake Chelan newspaper ran this article about the high cancer rates in Manson from historical pesticide use: http://lakechelanmirror.com/main.asp?SectionID=5&subsectionID=5&articleID=4439
This is a pretty edgy article for a small town newspaper to run, in my opinion. You usually don’t see much controversy, especially surrounding anything relating to the apple or orchard industry, historical or present. It’s hard not to step on toes with the locals. Kudos to this small town paper for talking about it.
It started with Lead Arsenate in the first half of the 1900’s, and it continues today in 2016 with a new generation of toxic pesticides. Let’s just stop this madness.

Lead and Arsenic might be gone, but Toxic Chemicals are still used in Lake Chelan.

We’d like to think that Washington apple growers of the past didn’t know any better. Heck, older generations didn’t really know the dangers of many things. Take smoking cigarettes for example. It took decades for people to really catch on to the latent dangers of smoking.

Immediate dangers are a lot easier for us humans to realize (a shark swimming at you, choking, snake bite, etc). For some reason long term, latent danger is just hard for us to grasp as humans. If we can’t see or immediately feel something hurting us, we tend to think it’s not that bad.

The industry still widely (and I mean really widely) uses toxic chemicals to grow apples. They’re just different now than the Lead and Arsenic of the past. They now use things like Chlorpyrifos (trade names Lorsban™ and Dursban™). They spray these toxic insecticides into the air in giant clouds and it drifts around.

I cannot believe that the apple growers in Washington state currently still use this stuff. The EPA banned household use of Chlorpyrifos about 15 years ago, but its still allowed to be used commercially!


Washington apple growers Randy Gleasman and Phyllis Gleasman get penalized for pesticide spray


Manson, WA the heart of Lake Chelan Valley — It’s really a shame that local Chelan orchardists Randy Gleasman and his mother Phyllis Gleasman chose to employ toxic chemicals as a means of growing apples, and that they also violate pesticide spray applications. The Washington State Department of Agriculture has assessed a civil penalty on Gleasman after an investigation into a pesticide over-spray incident that occurred in April 2014.

The understandably upset neighbor actually managed to tape them spraying in heavy winds. Check out the YouTube video here

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You can read the full PDF here of the WSDA investigation and penalties on Randy Gleasman. (The location is is in the Manson area of Lake Chelan but addresses have been redacted for privacy)

The investigation into the Gleasman spraying practices was the result of a complaint of over spray by the neighbors shooting the video. It found that the Gleasman clan had over-sprayed onto neighboring property, causing negative health effects on their neighbors. The neighbors reported pesticide related illness and consulted their doctor after the exposure, which then led to this formal complaint and investigation with the WSDA.

So what kind of nasty chemicals did the Gleasmans spray?

The WSDA’s investigation found a chemical product called Lorsban(TM) (also sometimes marketed as “Dursban(TM)”), a product of the Dow AgroSciences. Lorsban(TM) & Dursban(TM) are pretty disgusting and toxic.

These pesticides contain an active ingredient called “Chlorpyrifos” which is a really nasty chemical that was developed by Dow Chemical in 1965. Ahh… the 1960s… a regrettable time for the so-called “wonders of science”. It was the Golden Age of chemical science that brought us wonders like Agent Orange, Alar, and DDT.

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DDT, Agent Orange and others. Sadly, chemicals of yesteryear like Lead Arsenate were used extensively in the Washington Apple industry and tons more chemicals were thought to be harmless, and turned out to be just the opposite. Reminds me of another activity thought to be “harmless” back then: smoking!


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Sounds pretty gross right? It gets worse.

Lorsban(TM) and Dursban(TM) were both was banned by the EPA a few years back. Check out this great article in Mother Earth News. 

The article points out that Lorsban(TM) and Dursban(TM) “are known to cause potential nervous system and brain damage to young people“. Lovely! Just what I want sprayed on my apples, right?!

Sadly, the chemicals Lorsban(TM) and Dursban(TM) are still allowed for commercial use! Why on earth is that OK? This stuff can cause devastating health defects in humans.

The question is: why is America seemingly OK with this crap being sprayed on apples and other crops?

Well, America isn’t exactly “OK” with this kind of thing. More than a few people have sued the big chemical companies over the years, and the EPA even “woke up and banned it” as this article from the Public Health Watch Dog points out.  There have been many successful lawsuits against Lorsban(TM) and Dursban(TM). An Indiana family was recently awarded $23 million dollars after Lorsban(TM) exposure caused health problems with their children.

How can these big chemical companies sleep at night? Dow Chemical apparently wants to keep selling this stuff. They were recently fined $732,000 for not reporting 249 documented cases of Dursban(TM) poisoning to the EPA. Yeah! Check out the great work that Greenpeace has been doing in exposing what they call “Corporate Criminal” Dow Chemical.

More importantly, why do Randy Gleasman and Phyllis Gleasman willingly spray something so toxic onto his neighbors and community?


Have they not read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring?


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We looked up the business Manzana Ranch LLC that the Gleasman family operates. They live among the orchards; virtually in them. From the satellite map their houses are smack dab in the middle of these apple orchards that get sprayed with this stuff. Why would the Gleasman clan spray these chemicals all around their own family? Isn’t that a really, really bad idea for a family’s health? If they happen to have kids, isn’t that an even worse idea healthwise?


Didn’t we learn anything from the Alar scare of the 1990s?

The orchard industry was hit hard in the 1990s by the Alar scare. Americans found out some nasty, dirty things about Alar, a chemical used in Apple growing. It caused a scare that devastated the industry. Many growers lost their farms due to this.

As a general rule, most consumers do not like chemicals on their food! Notice the growing organic movement?

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Doesn’t common sense dictate that Apple growers would want to go Organic, if only for their own financial future? When more of the general public finds out about how conventional apples are grown… and the toxic Lorsban and Dursban being used in apple farming, the entire apple industry is just a 60 Minutes expose away from being devastated again.

My advice: wake up and stop using crappy chemicals to grow your “food”. It’s pure laziness. You want a higher yield crop and you are addicted to using these harsh nasty chemicals to get it. I don’t even call non-organic apples food because I would never eat them.



The EPA may soon ban all Chlorpyrifos

Chlorpyrifos is a chemical used by extensively by conventional apple growers in Washington State. The EPA has been very slowly getting around to banning its use completely. The EPA’s slowness to rule on Chlorpyrifos commercially is an entirely different topic; a great source of frustration for many. Great article on that here. 


We all know that big chemical companies have a lot at stake, and that political lobbyists get paid to fight for the big-corporate bottom line, and that our political processes are bogged down by bureaucracy. It sucks.

Insecticides used by Washington Apple growers cause brain damage and developmental defects in children.

Washington apple growers, and other farmers, need to take a good long look at the chemicals they are using. The word is out about Chlorpyrifos and other nasty pesticides. I am assuming most growers know, if they haven’t been living in a cave on Mars. So why do the growers still choose to use this stuff? Most of them have their homes right smack dab in the middle of their orchards. Why would they choose to live in a big cloud of toxic poison?

We’re talking about big powerful spray machines that shoot these chemicals 20+ feet up in the air (and I’ve seen higher!)

The CDC reports that  “Chlorpyrifos can enter your body through your mouth, lungs, and skin.” and don’t worry, how bad could it be?


Another chemical factsheet report says that it can cause these very minor things…

Acute exposure can result in such
symptoms as numbness, tingling sensation, in-
coordination, dizziness, vomiting, sweating, nau-
sea, stomach cramps, headache, vision distur-
bances, muscle twitching, drowsiness, anxiety,
slurred speech, depression, confusion and in ex-
treme cases, respiratory arrest, unconsciousness,
convulsions, and death.
Oh, is that all? Remember that next time somebody says “its not that bad for you”.

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