Posts Tagged pesticides

The Orchard: book review

The Orchard , by Theresa Weir. Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (September, 2011). Memoir. Hardcover, 240 pages.

In the salesroom, apples were sliced and offered as samples, but workers weren’t allowed to wash the apples before cutting them. That might taint the warm, fuzzy feel of a trip to the orchard. Nobody wanted to be reminded of why their apples didn’t have spots on the skin, or worms inside. They just wanted an unblemished and beautiful apple.

The Orchard is a harsh, dark, and honest memoir. It provides an environmental cautionary tale of the effects of pesticides on a family. In the 1970s and 1980s few people knew about the detrimental effects when using pesticides extensively on their farms. Particularly in the Midwest, farmers were slower to embrace organic farming or other less destructive means to harvest the perfect fruits and vegetables. Profits and competition drove the methodology. In The Orchard , Theresa Weir eloquently addresses the chemicals used in this Midwestern apple orchard and the effect on farm workers and a family in a rather unsentimental and effective manner.

Maybe I was looking for romance, but I wasn’t a romantic person. That might be because I’d witnessed the men who’d come and gone in my mother’s life, and, even as a little kid, I’d known love wasn’t a good thing.

Independent at an early age, Theresa’s working in her uncle’s bar when she meets Aidan, a local farmer. Three months later the two marry. Aidan lives with his domineering, idealistic parents on the farm. Theresa soon finds out that he’s really working for them not for the family farm. The farm comes before Theresa. No one believes that Theresa will last, that she’s strong enough for farm living. She proves many wrong including herself. The Orchard pulls you in right away. Containing fairy tale elements of a poisoned apple, a princess and prince, a wicked mother-in-law, and a sweet grandmother, The Orchard is fantastic.

That’s what happened when you lived smack dab in the middle of bleak. Pretty soon everybody and everything became normal. Pretty soon it didn’t seem bleak. People adapt. But that bit of self-preservation could turn on you when you took it too far. Pretty soon you started thinking everything was fine and you lost all desire to do anything but sit around and shoot the shit with people like Larry.

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