Thank you to Jeff Gore of the Orlando Weekly for publishing this wonderful article about the toxic tours offered by the Farmworker Association of Florida!
Learn about one of Central Florida's most polluted bodies of water on a Toxic Tour of the Lake Apopka area
by Jeff Gore
Published September 29, 2011 in the Orlando Weekly
It used to be that Lake Apopka wasn’t an oddity, but rather, a trophy. The lake, the third-largest in Florida, was considered a world-class fishing destination before the World War II. But as Central Florida’s population grew, so did the abuses the lake endured. Beginning in the 1940s, nutrient-rich wetlands on the lake’s north shore were utilized for agriculture (such operations eventually encompassed 20,000 acres); in the ensuing decades, the lake would become a repository for chemical runoff not only from farms but nearby citrus-processing plants as well. By the 1980s, Lake Apopka was considered the state’s most polluted large lake.
But it’s not just the environmental aspect of this tragedy that motivates Jeannie Economos, the wild-haired environmental health project coordinator of the Farmworker Association of Florida, to offer her singular “Toxic Tour” of the Lake Apopka area. It’s also the serious – and somewhat mysterious – health problems of many former farmworkers who worked for decades on Lake Apopka’s so-called muck farms. This is the third year of the Toxic Tour, and judging by the almost jittery level of energy emanating from the 58-year-old Economos, we imagine it’ll be around for many more.
Read more here.