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Fateful Harvest: The True Story of a Small Town, a Global Industry, and a Toxic Secret

4.29  ·  Rating Details  ·  113 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Quincy, Washington, had been a sleepy northwestern farming town until its rest is disturbed by a shocking secret beneath its once-fertile fields: chemical manufacturers are disposing of leftover toxic waste by selling it to unsuspecting farmers as fertilizer. The tainted fertilizer -- containing arsenic and cadmium, lead and dioxins-is believed to be destroying crops, sick ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 4th 2001 by Harper
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May 06, 2011 Natalie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Everyone who eats food or has kids should read this book. Does that cover you?

Recommended this book again today(5/6/11), for the umpteenth time. Why?

This story and the way it is told and the way the story continues after the book is done should make it compelling reading for any environmental or community activist -indeed maybe should be required reading for anyone seeking justice, writing about those seeking it, or exploring the rights of the invididual vs the rights of coporations in today's
Nick Havens
Apr 27, 2015 Nick Havens rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have hesitated to review this book for more than a month now because my feelings were so strong and the story seemed so crazy that it couldn't be true.
This book documents a small town mayor discovering and trying her darnedest to expose toxic wastes being diluted and repackaged as product. The companies responsible went through a lot of trouble trying to keep her quiet... you know how you have that nightmare about how politics works and it's a lot like 'house of cards'? This book shows you so
Oct 30, 2008 Tara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In a small town in the southwest corner of Washington lies the toxic legacy of the fertilizer industry.

Quincy is a small farming town whose people become divided between farming and public safety when they are made aware of Cenex's selling of toxic waste as fertilizer containing cadmium, arsenic, lead and dioxins. Patty Martin is a true hero who runs for mayor to clean up her town but is eventually voted out of office after farmers (80 percent of the town's economy is based in potato farming) do
Ian Drew Forsyth
This is a book that my dad had found when i was in high school and he told me of the possibilities of lead in our french fries among other horrible things that really are difficult to see for their full implications.
However now older and ready for the horrible news that this book exposes i tore threw this book in three days grimly fascinated with the truth uncovered from this little town in Quincy, WA.
Heavy metals are getting into synthetic fertilizers and now legally. Gary Locke and his task fo
This book is a must read for anyone who farms, keeps livestock, or grocery shops. Really, this is a must read for anyone who eats. The premise: toxic waste full of heavy metals is being recycled into fertilizer. It is killing fields, killing stock, and killing people. The book follows the story of Patty and a few others in a small town as they fight against what they initially think is a local corrupt company. It turns out to be a country-wide problem, complete with coverups and purposely poor r ...more
Pat Mckay
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elaine Duff
I chose to read this book for my AP class because it hit close to home. well maybe a little too close. my family has never used fertilizer and doesn't believe in it. we have always had our own garden and bought from the local farmer's market. living on your own farm and raising your own meat has its perks. I've learned that organic in the store is not always organic. I will look into this more thanks to this book. I've also learned to take action and to never stay silent when you can make a diff ...more
May 07, 2007 Jackye marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
She began to suspect the chemicals in the fertilizer, and she observed the local company that sold fertilizers to the farmers. They got the chemicals from industries that needed to dispose of their toxic waste and saved a lot of money--enormous sums--by selling it to fertilizer companies. It was very expensive to put the wastes in disposal sites. Because of EPA regulatory loopholes, fertilizer companies could process it into granular form, blend it with dirt and sell it to unsuspecting farmers. ...more
Nov 22, 2009 Daneen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
I did not enjoy this book, but it is a MUST read for everyone who thinks the food you eat has been grown safely. The only way for change to occur is for everyone to understand what is happening! This story broke open in Quincy, WA--my backyard; however, this is where the story starts with a very strong woman!! Although it starts in this small farming community in Central Washington, the story is for everyone.

A MUST READ -- it is disturbing to learn what is allowed all in the name of obtaining th
If you eat, farm, garden in your own yard or fertilize your lawn, you have to read this. Have things changed for the better now? I'm not convinced that most of it isn't still going on. I have to add that my uncle died in the early 90's of lung scarring of "unknown cause". He farmed about an hour east of Quincy. His daughter, my cousin, who farmed the neighboring land died 2 years ago of a rare cancer. Enough said. Read this.
Oct 16, 2007 Meghan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the environment or gardening
Ok, this book isn't written in a very scholarly way, but it's a quick, easy, page-turning read about an important topic - the fact that manufactures across the US are disposing of toxic and hazardous waste by adding it to fertilizer, even supposedly "organic" products. It's written by the Seattle Times reporter who broke the story in 2000 and focuses on several towns in WA where farmers and townspeople are getting sick and dying.
stagger lee
Jun 24, 2008 stagger lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
unless you are excited about eating toxic waste in your food, this frightening true story of a strong-ass women uncovering the truth about modern fertilizer is a must read! while folks are still working on this topic, little has been done. in the meantime, we are slowing poisoning ourselves and our environment.
Apr 16, 2010 Tamar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I spent my younger years growing up in Quincy, Washington. I know the people and places in this book and I find it's message deeply disturbing. How many small, rural towns of Eastern Washington suffer from the same pollutants, and why doesn't the public ever inquire into these issues?
Jul 07, 2007 Carolina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone should read this book and be outraged to action. It should be in every library. It tells the important and horrifying story of how corporations recycle toxic waste into consumer products (fertilizer, which is spread on our farmlands) to avoid paying superfund site fees.
Erin Oliver
Apr 13, 2012 Erin Oliver rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 20, 2012 Starr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Frightening true story of a few farmers and a tireless woman who try to expose the use of hazardous waste as "fertilizers". I'd like to do some followup to see if this is still a legal practice.
Sidney Rodriguez
This really raised my awareness of food security and our legal system in regards to it. Much of what I learned raised my eyebrows. Definitely worth the time to read.
May 26, 2010 Rachael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Scary stuff! Raises interesting questions about the contents of commercial fertilizers and the issue of "recycling" industrial wastes.
Jan 04, 2008 Liberty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
hmmm....."conventional produce" sure sounds.....scary. Thanks, Land-O-Lakes! I appreciate your contamination.
May 11, 2010 Jared rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written book. Disturbing information on the fertilizer industry...
May 20, 2010 Crystal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eye opening to what is and can happen.
Jul 26, 2010 Larry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A great book by an Omak High School graduate no less. Duff Wilson brought to light toxic secrets in the fertilizer industry that was taking place right in my own piece of Eastern Washington.....
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