Recipe for FRUIT OF THE DEVIL: Mash together some strawberries and pesticides, a teacher, a priest, an ancient nature god, true love and wild sex, ghosts, Native Americans, migrant farmworkers, surfers, gang bangers, billionaire “ag” boys, and salmon. Stir it up in a National Marine Sanctuary. Serve with fine California wines. Season with murder, magic and mystery.
Contemporary fiction with elements of mystery, romance, and an edge of magical realism, Fruit of the Devil delivers the flavors of Prodigal Summer and Tortilla Curtain with nonfiction overtones of Erin Brockovich.
While getting her fourth grade classroom ready for Fall, Ms. Aurora Bourne begins to feel sick, and it’s more than back-to-school blues. Outside her windows next to the playground, strawberry fields have just been fumigated. Pesticides are drifting into the classrooms and causing serious health issues for students and teachers. When the teenage sister of a migrant student goes missing from the strawberry fields, it becomes clear that pesticides aren’t the only things threatening the children’s safety. Aurora soon understands why immigrant children at her school call strawberries La Fruta del Diablo, the Fruit of the Devil.
From the exclusive golf courses of Pebble Beach to the world famous surf breaks of Santa Cruz and the fertile lands of Steinbeck country, Fruit of the Devil uncovers the hidden side of California agriculture and tells a story of love, murder, greed, and redemption.
A finalist in the 2014 Barbara Kingsolver Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.
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FRUIT OF THE DEVIL was inspired by a true David and Goliath story about corporations poisoning school children with pesticides, and the parents and teachers fighting to protect their children, their food and water, and a priceless natural environment. It’s the story of normal teachers and parents who were transformed into passionate environmental activists . . . and it’s not over yet! See the teachers’ Safe Ag Safe Schools website and SASS Facebook page for more. Methyl bromide, an ozone-depleting chemical, a potent greenhouse gas, and a deadly pesticide banned in the 90’s by the International Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and the California Birth Defects Prevention Act, yet still used today on the strawberry fields of Central California, continues to be a hotly debated topic in the multi-million dollar world of California agriculture, Steinbeck country. The pesticides currently used in agricultural fields next to our schools have been linked to asthma, cancer, and autism spectrum disorders. Find out what’s in that beautiful strawberry before you take your next bite of the Fruit of the Devil and why it’s so urgent that we transition to a sustainable food system. For a recent in-depth report on the California strawberry industry, see the Center for Investigative Reporting article, “California’s Strawberry Industry is Hooked on Dangerous Pesticides”.
Are you involved in or concerned about an environmental or social justice issue in your community? Tell your story! We’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to comment here (in the comment box at the bottom of the page), or on any of the Wild Strawberries Blog Posts.
When Can I Read It?
The manuscript is now complete and in its final (maybe?) edit. We look forward to seeing it in print and e-book soon, so we can share this urgent story about sustainable food systems with everyone who loves their children and our precious Earth. I’m currently exploring mainstream publishing options.
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