Over 50 years ago, this writer and biologist loudly sounded the warning bell against the growing use of chemicals in food and the environment.
Our founders originally took their cues from Ms. Carson’s 1962 blockbuster book Silent Spring, an inspired and popular tome which combined Carson’s scientific and writing skills to throw open the doors and lift the shroud of secrecy under which the burgeoning world of toxic pesticides and chemicals such as DDT were operating, almost singlehandedly beginning the campaign which we now know as the environmental movement.
We find endless inspiration in the curiosity, dedication, and tenacity of Rachel Carson, and a half century later find her mission more important than ever.
“Rachel’s Organic Café” at Good Earth is named in loving recognition of Ms. Carson’s caring, dedicated and pioneering work
RACHEL LOUISE CARSON was born on May 27, 1907 in Springdale, Pennsylvania. She grew up the youngest of three children in a modest farmhouse outside Springdale, just up the Allegheny River from Pittsburgh, on her family’s 65 acre farm. She divided her time between reading and exploring of the forests and streams around the farm. Rachel’s childhood setting, as well as the influence of her mother instilled in her a lifelong passion for nature.
In 1925, Rachel graduated high school at the top of her class. She entered Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham University) as an English major, but then switched to study biology. In 1929, Rachel graduated magna cum laude and was admitted with a scholarship to Johns Hopkins University. Rachel earned a M.A. in Zoology from Johns Hopkins in 1932.
Rachel’s immense abilities in both writing and biology won her a position with the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries in 1935 as the writer of a radio show called “Romance Under the Waters.”
Rachel was the first woman to take and pass the civil service test. She was hired by the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries as a junior aquatic biologist. Eventually, she became the chief editor of all publications for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Rachel was concerned about the danger of pesticides while working for the Fish and Wildlife Service, but became more alarmed with the introduction of DDT in 1945. She observed abnormalities in fish and wildlife and saw impending danger for the overall environment.
Rachel witnessed the proliferation of synthetic pesticides after World War II, and the chemical industry’s disinformation about the safety of DDT.
The USDA’s 1957 spraying of DDT to eradicate fire ants was the impetus for Rachel’s years of devoted research for her book Silent Spring. Published in 1962, it is an exposé on pesticides and environmental poisons, particularly the detrimental effects on birds. Silent Spring became a rallying point for the fledgling environmental movement in the 1960s, and her work has inspired profound activism.
In her last public appearance, Rachel testified before President Kennedy’s Science Advisory Committee asking for new policies to protect human health and the environment. She died from cancer in 1964 at the age of 57.
Learn more about Rachel Carson