Life in Cancer Alley—

“‘You can’t eat nothing off the ground anymore’ explained one local resident, who like many in this area, has seen the local ecology slowly degenerate over the years. Residents spoke about sludge-like residue that hangs around the bottom of trees, and of plants flowering out of season, or not at all. Others described fruit not ripening, leaves changing color, and verdant trees that were planted by their grandparents suddenly dying. ‘The trees grow at different times…’ described one resident, as we walked around her garden, ‘…They come out, then they go back in, they come out and then go back in’, she recalled. Just as Rachel Carson described in her 1962 book Silent Spring, the Freetown community has been forced to ‘live so intimately with these chemicals’. Part of this enforced chemical-intimacy has meant witnessing the seasonal rhythms of natural life become upended, interrupted and replaced by uncertainty.”

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