Imagine, if instead of growing grass, Americans grew food... the "Food Not Lawns" movement is trying to help do just that.
The definitive anti-lawn essay: Turf War. Elizabteh Kolbert. The New Yorker. p.82 July 21, 2008.
"The insecticide carbaryl, which is marketed under the trade name Sevin, is still broadly applied to lawns. A likely human carcinogen, it has been shown to cause developmental damage in lab animals, and is toxic to—among many other organisms—tadpoles, salamanders, and honeybees. In “American Green” (2006), Ted Steinberg, a professor of history at Case Western Reserve University, compares the lawn to “a nationwide chemical experiment with homeowners as the guinea pigs.”
Meanwhile, the risks of the chemical lawn are not confined to the people who own the lawns, or to the creatures that try to live in them. Rain and irrigation carry synthetic fertilizers into streams and lakes, where the excess nutrients contribute to algae blooms that, in turn, produce aquatic “dead zones.” Manhattanites may not keep lawns, but they drink the chemicals that run off them. A 2002 report found traces of thirty-seven pesticides in streams feeding into the Croton River Watershed. A few years ago, Toronto banned the use of virtually all lawn pesticides and herbicides, including 2,4-D and carbaryl, on the ground that they pose a health risk, especially to children."
"In his anti-lawn essay "Why Mow?," Michael Pollan puts it this way: "Lawns are nature purged of sex and death. No wonder Americans like them so much."
See also "the nation's first grassroots anti-grass movement, which dubbed itself Wild Ones." SALT: Smaller American Lawns Today