the object of this study was to identify context elements that have an influence on pesticide use, related perceptions, and actions in flower production. the study was carried out in barbacena, minas gerais state. the method used was based on an anthropological fast diagnosis approach inspired on the signs, meanings and actions model and on the analysis of semi-structured interviews with 20 workers from four different flower-growing fields. the field data analysis indicates that these workers face two realities: the need for pesticides and suffering generated by pesticide management. furthermore, there is clearly no direct relation between risk awareness and the effective hazards associated with pesticides. this gap is filled by beliefs which are at the basis of their actions. these beliefs reinterpret information and risk, influence behavior, and make it possible for these workers to move between these two paradoxical realities and pesticide. attributing new meanings to pesticide management risks, however, may imply in positively valuing potentially harmful behaviors.