Restoring Eden: Unearthing the Agribusiness Secret That Poisoned My Farming Community

Chicago Review. Aug. 2023. 240p. ISBN 9781641609388. pap. $19.99. SCI
Veterinarian and EPA environmental health scientist Hilborn lives with her husband on a farm in North Carolina, where they grow their own fruits and vegetables. Here she recounts pausing—after a day spent working on their land—at a sunlit section of the farm’s swale to enjoy a visit to her “natural aquarium,” usually brimming with life. On this date, however, she sees only murky, golden-brown water with no sign of live animals. She begins a quest to determine why the animals have died or disappeared by talking to neighbors and scientists at government agencies and universities. With growing dread and feelings of profound loss, she notices that the pollinators, beetles, spiders, ants, and earthworms have also vanished, and the birds are abandoning their nests. By studying scientific papers to try to make sense of it all, Hilborn perseveres when no one seems able or willing to help her. She ultimately learns that chemicals believed to be safe are in fact quite destructive.
VERDICT A beautifully descriptive, lyrical immersion in the natural world that’s coupled with a detective story, reminiscent of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Will likely appeal to readers interested in natural history, ecology, and pollinators.
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