I graduated college with a Master’s degree in agriculture in 2008, and upon that milestone in my life, my parents had the nerve to politely ask me to get a job and that I was responsible for rent. I then realized at least two major things: my parents actually did not love me like they said they did, and that I needed a job.
In order to remedy both of these problems, I had to become employed, so the job search began.
I ended up taking a job with a company that did chemical trials and sampling for major chemical companies. The company that hired me was a very small one; aside from the owner I was the only other full-time employee, and I worked alongside a retired stoner whose title was “quality control” but controlled none of that sort, a Brazilian college basketball player who danced more than worked and a high school student with digestion problems. It was an interesting 11 months of my life to say the least.
I learned the ropes of the job fairly quickly; those ropes being to:
1. Be there before the boss
2. Sign for the mail
3. Be really good at math
4. Make sure the power goes out (and if it did go out refer to number 4 again)
5. Live in complete isolation and be happy about it.
Those 5 things would have been an excellent job description on the site I originally found the job on, but there was so much more involved with this new, seemingly glamorous position I agreed to take. This job definitely changed me as a person, though, in so many ways. I both loved it and at the same time began to hate it.
A days work in this position really varied daily, weekly and monthly. Firstly it is important to know that it was not only a chemical research facility but a full scale 1,000 acre farm that dedicated about 10-20 acres to every crop you might find at your local grocery store two-fold as to provide for control group samples. On the agricultural side of things I learned more than anyone in my graduating class about actually planting, maintaining and harvesting the staples that end up on your table at some point. This was a dream come true for me as I love and respect plants more than anyone should, and the hard, really really REALLY hard work involved with them was never an issue (except for sunflowers, I learned there that I am incredibly allergic to sunflowers). Being outside and farming was the best experience ever; plus, being the only assistant allowed me to catch up on music since I could listen to Tool, Joanna Newsom and Brahms in their entirety over and over again.
Aside from living on-site 30 miles from any true civilization in complete isolation (which has it’s ups too), I developed certain dislikes for the position, too, as my morals toward commercial farming started to change. A major portion of my job was to suit up in chemists protection and respiration equipment to spray these food and fiber staples with solutions that had skull and crossbones on them; all in the efforts to eventually take finely weighted samples and send them to the companies who invented them in the first place for residue testing. If you didn’t catch all that I will break it down a little more. I sprayed your food with poison and the companies that payed me to do so were, and still are responsible for telling you that the food with their chemicals on it, and the clothes made from that cotton is safe to eat and wear. I learned that the EPA is only responsible for checking record keeping practices, but does not test the actual chemicals (once again, the companies that make the pesticides test them to see if they are safe enough to sell). That took a toll on my morality and my love of farming couldn’t keep me there so I ultimately resigned.
You, as the consumer should take two things from this. First of all, the EPA is not there for your safety, nor anyone’s for that matter, but instead is an agency of records analysts. Secondly, grow your own food if you can, and if not definitely wash your veggies and clothes, twice.