Are Our Environmental Policies Making Us Broke, Hungry, and Infertile?

Sad lovers couple after pregnancy test result

In recent years, wages have plummeted, hunger has risen, and, as a recent study found, the growing infertility rates may have something to do with the amount of pesticide residue on the fruit and vegetables we eat. As this week’s news shows, our environmental policies are overdue for an upgrade.

The Changing Politics of Woods Work (High Country News)

Since the 1990s, forestry workers’ pay rates have plunged, making it impossible for the American laborers to make a living. The ever-shrinking Forest Service’s budget forces the agency to use contractors who almost always hire foreign workers on H-2B guest worker visas—or, as one study found, sometimes without visas at all.

Related Sustainability Content on JSTOR: Policy Sciences

Why the American Media Ignored 41 Million Hungry Americans (The Nation)

Released on September 6, the annual Unites States Department of Agriculture report on hunger and food insecurity classified 41 million Americans as “food insecure,” using a politically correct euphemism for “hungry,” which was adopted by the agency about 10 years ago. The worrisome number, which is larger than the combined populations of Texas, Michigan, and Maine, remains 5 million higher than it was in 2007, before the last recession.

Related Sustainability Content on JSTOR: Gastronomica

High-Pesticide Fruits and Vegetables Correlated With Lower Fertility Rates, Says Study (Modern Farmer)

A study of 325 women undergoing infertility treatment at Mass General Hospital in Boston found surprising correlations between infertility and how much high-pesticide fruits and vegetables the women ate. Prior research noted that working with agrichemicals poses an infertility risk, but the new study zeroed-in on the pesticide residue in food. Women who ate the pesticide-laden produce had significantly less chances of getting pregnant and an even lower probability of successfully giving birth.

Related Sustainability Content on JSTOR: Epidemiology

JSTOR Citations

Guest Workers or Unauthorized Immigrants? The Case of Forest Workers in the United States

By: Brinda Sarathy and Vanessa Casanova

Policy Sciences, Vol. 41, No. 2 (Jun., 2008), pp. 95-114


The Disappearance of Hunger in America

By: Patricia Allen

Gastronomica, Vol. 7, No. 3 (Summer 2007), pp. 19-23

University of California Press

Risk Factors for Female Infertility in an Agricultural Region

By: Anne R. Greenlee, Tye E. Arbuckle and Po-Huang Chyou

Epidemiology, Vol. 14, No. 4 (Jul., 2003), pp. 429-436

Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

Lina Zeldovich

Lina Zeldovich grew up in a family of Russian scientists listening to bedtime stories about volcanoes and black holes. Since then, she has edited science features at the Nautilus Magazine, won two awards for a story about poo, and covered topics ranging from an illegal orca trade in China to a toilet revolution in Madagascar. She holds a master degree from Columbia J-School and has written for Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian, Newsweek, Audubon, Mosaic Science and Hakai Magazine, among other publications.

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