Prince Edward Island, 26th- 29th August
We splashed and swam in the shallow and warm waters of Northumberland Strait and in the evening of the 26th drove to Argyle Shore on Prince Edward Island.
The sky was deep, the Strait shivered with violet waters, and Confederation bridge, like Jack’s beanstalk, vanished into the night. This picture is the day version of our experience:
Source for photo: wiki
Upon entry into PEI, the license plate was photographed just like they do at the border with the U.S. Probably to keep people away from stealing potatoes and pesticides.
PEIers’ chests swell with pride at their two landmarks, both of which are omnipresent and ineluctable: Anne of Green Gables and potatoes.
Anne was the main character of a book published in 1908 by Lucy Maud Montgomery who grew up on the island. Anne was an orphan who was eager to please, and hence won the approval to stay and work for the family who’s ordered an orphan from an orphanage in Nova Scotia. Anne proves to be an excellent resource who is happy and grateful for having been taken in to help around — a domestic(ated) dream come true! Even when she gets a chance to go and study at a university on a scholarship, she gives it up in order to stay and take care of the owner.
At a certain point, the narrative reveals the connection between the two landmarks as Anne betrays that she thinks of herself as a potato: «I’m not a bit changed–not really. I’m only just pruned down and branched out».
That reminds me of Van Gogh’s painting: the Potato Eaters, which leads me to conclude that obsession with potatoes makes one resemble potatoes and, by extension, obsession with pig, or chicken or anything for that matter, makes one resemble the object of one’s obsession: pig, chicken, or anything for that matter. But even more scary, is that we get to resemble the primitive conception we have of the object of obsession and not the real object itself.
Source for photo: wiki
Low tide: no birds; no sealife; no animals; no-one except for Sasha, Ljuba, and our hosts’ dog walking into the Strait.
Originally, the island was inhabited by the Mi’kmaq Indians. Many of the Mi’kmaq women intermarried with the Acadians (the French colonists) and many more perished due to the the diseases brought by the invaders. However, there are still Mi’kmaq communities that continue to live on the island and the surrounding islands, even though the European invaders have turned the place into one big potato farm with an intensive pollution by pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.
Doctors report that residents of PEI, particularly children, develop some of the rarest cancers and genetic diseases in the world. In an article on cancer and potato farming on PEI, Martin Mittelstaed says that potato farmers use chemicals more heavily than others, often up to 19 sprays in a single growing season and on «on a weekly basis, or even more frequently to try to prevent blight… as well as herbicides to kill the tops of the plants at the end of the growing season to make the underground tubers easier to harvest.
There is likely to be more pesticide exposure on the Island in recent years than there once was because potato acreage has expanded dramatically — doubling since 1980 and up about 40 per cent since 1990, to meet the booming demand from French-fry makers». Pollution was found to be ubiquitous throughout the air over PEI and even as far away as remote wharfs in the Northumberland Strait with no nearby potato cultivation.
According to the report, there are three facts that fail to be connected by the farmers, politicians, and even many of the victims of cancer: 1. PEI has a high rate of cancer; 2. there is a confirmed connection between pesticides and the disease; and 3. there is a confirmed intensive usage of chemicals that pollute the crop, the air, and the water. Yet, «farmers insist that their sprays are safe because all crop chemicals used on the island are approved and regulated by Health Canada, according to Ivan Noonan, general manager of the Prince Edward Island Potato Board, a growers’ association».
Children are the first to develop cancer «because their rapid cell division makes them more sensitive to cancer-causing chemical exposures than adults».
And yet, children are forced to stay for years in these boxes, that go by the name «school», and that prepare the young for a life in coffins and which rely on high school manuals that provide false information and leave important facts and connections out.
Yes, this windowless, claustrophobic building is called school, just as it says over the door, in case you doubted:
This high school «science» manual‘s misrepresentation of scientific evidence is cruel and dangerous. First, the authors admit that less than 1% of the organisms that accompany the life-cycle of any particular crop that could cause some harm, whereas the remaining 99% are crucial to life. Then, they contradict themselves — in bad grammar, once again proving that school is NOT a place where one would learn consistency, clear self-expression, or logical thinking — and state that it is «necessary» for the farmers to use these poisons so as to increase their PROFITS! With a maximum greed factor:
«There are many plants and animals which co-exist with crops in a farmers field. Less than one percent of these plants and animals are pests. Pests are organisms which attack crops and harm them in some way. It is critical that these pests are controlled for a farm to earn the best income. The use of synthetic pesticides in agriculture world-wide is still the most widespread method for pest control. Farmers could not achieve the same yields without the use of synthetic pesticides».
What’s even worse, is that the eradication of one “pest” creates more pests from the imbalance of the organisms that used to live together with the eradicated pest and hence turn to consume that which they didn’t harm before and without any checks from the community of life that existed before the eradication of one or two of them. In addition, the chemicals used to kill one pest, inevitably harm others and humans, especially children, since their body sizes are the smallest.
Furthermore, in his research on pesticides, Wee Chong Tan has observed that those societies that practice organic farming have a much healthier sperm count than the farmers involved in chemical farming. In an article titled: Chemical Pesticides Causing Population Infertility and Birth Defects, Tan says that «PEI has twelve times the national rate of child asthma and twice the national rate of prostate cancer. I was told that PEI has a huge population of children with learning disabilities and that PEI has four times the national rate of spinal cord defects in newborns. PEI’s water table is high to the surface of the ground, and so is more susceptible to pesticide spray contamination. The main crop grown in PEI is the potato. So they have to spray pesticides in such a way as to get the pesticides to the potatoes in the ground. I was very shook up. Statistics Canada has provided some interesting information as well. For Canada, maternal death rates have reached 7.8 per 100 000 live births, the highest rate since 1981. It is commonly reported in the media nowadays that exposure to pesticides can cause birth defects and childhood cancers. Prince Edward Island (PEI) has the lowest life expectancy in Canada».
Thus, in addition to the air and the crop pollution, water gets contaminated as well, since the level of the waterbed is pretty high. Looking at the incredible colours and contrasts of a brutalised nature, the meaning of the silence of the skies, which Lucy Maud Montgomery describes with nostalgia in Anne of Green Gables, acquires a threatening ring.
This is a great pity, for, the islanders extended the most generous welcome to us. Their family togetherness touched me deeply. And yet, there lurks this tragic discrepancy in their understanding of life and the threat with which they doom, not only their kin, but their whole world.