Four years ago, Larry Jacobs, President of Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo, received an unfortunate phone call from Whole Foods. The retail giant notified him that it was rejecting the organic dill he had sold the chain because the herb had tested positive for pesticides. Jacobs’ response was “that’s not possible…I haven’t sprayed pesticides since I got sick spraying pesticides 40 years ago.” As it turns out, Jacobs’ 120-acre herb farm, just north of Santa Cruz in Wilder Ranch State Park, was the victim of a hard-to-detect but relatively simple scientific process: Pesticides applied in liquid form to nearby brussel sprouts later evaporated and were carried in vapor, through wind or fog, to Jacobs’ dill.
Jacobs decided to let the courts decide whether the pesticide sprayer should be held accountable for his damaged crops. Last December, California’s 6th District Court of Appeal in San Jose upheld Jacobs’ right to sue the pesticide applicator, Western Farm Service, and let stand the $1 million award a jury handed Jacobs two years ago. Jacobs discusses this precedent-setting case as well as the future of organics and the recent deregulation of GMO alfalfa. Jacobs believes the future of organics depends on all of us being involved and educated, especially our children, in where our food comes from and offers simple advice to families on how to involve our children in this process.