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‘Crop dusting’ is a term used to describe the process of farting and then walking by people. It’s done by servers in restaurants as they walk by tables so they all can bask in the smell. – Marcus, Evan (2014-05-08). Restaurant Reality – A Server’s Perspective: A Satirical and Candid Look into Serving in Restaurants (Kindle Locations 1744-1746). Evan D. Marcus. Kindle Edition.n
Is this a restaurant-centric term, like in the weeds? I can find an entry only in Urban Dictionary, not other dictionaries, for this non-aviation usage, and Urban Dictionary doesn’t indicate where it’s found.
The first time I encountered the term was in David Sedaris’s humorous essay in The New Yorker (August 9, 2010). In this case, it was still an aviation usage — and that does make sense as an origin. The essay is well worth the read.
Truth be told, I read it in one of his books, rather than in the New Yorker, but anyway:
David Sedaris “Standing By”
I suspect that the restaurant use was borrowed from the flight attendant use.
Agricultural crop-dusting is primarily the aerial application of herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides. In 1920, the chemicals were basically powders (such as the Sevin or rose powder applied by home gardeners.)
Most crops are sprayed with very dilute chemicals to avoid over-application – five gallons of the concentrate may treat an entire farm. Because the water is so heavy, licensed applicators use “floaters”, which are tractors with immense soft balloon tires which spread the weight over a large footprint, reducing soil compaction and damage to tender young plants.
Flying around with so much water isn’t a good idea, so aerial application uses extremely high pressure and extremely small orifices to make an extremely fine mist that closely resembles a vapor before it reaches the ground.
They don’t use Aldrin and Dieldrin any more, but even so, if you see someone spraying or crop-dusting. head for the next county. If you’re lucky, they will be applying ammonia, but while less dangerous, it still ain’t healthy to inhale it.