FERN’s Friday Food: Costco Samples, Intro to American Food

welcome to FERN’s Friday Stream (#FFF), where we share stories from this week that got us thinking.


A love song at Costco

Long reads

“While my parents and their friends browse the huge shelves, I prowl the sample stands. It’s one of the only times I eat American food. My parents don’t go to American restaurants out of fear and disdain,” writes Yuxi Lin. “For a while at lunch, I threw away the fried rice my mother was cooking because the white kids said it looked funny, but I soon ran out of money to buy chicken nuggets. I walk over to the old ladies in hairnets handing out cut-up Hot Pockets or solitary nachos with salsa. More than anything, I covet microwave-filled pierogies. “Trash food“, my mother calls them. I tell him that I aspire to be a trash can.


How oyster shellers became oyster farmers

modern farmer

“That April day, when they pulled the first baskets of bivalves from their farm out of the warm waters, [Bryan] Rackley was amazed that they managed to grow any of the molluscs to maturity,” writes Jennifer Kornegay. “’We’re so new to this, I was a bit amazed we kept them alive. Then Matt took them back to Kimball House for their debut and had a flat tire, so that was stressful,’ he said. “And when we arrived at the restaurant with them, I had dreamed of cheers and showers of champagne, but no. It was a busy night. We got to work as usual: chipping and serve hundreds of oysters. Only that night some of those oysters were ours. It was pretty special.


The Fight to Take Back Hawaiian Agriculture from the GMO Giants

The Guardian

“Rain clouds blanket the mountain peaks of West Maui, one of the wettest places on earth, which for centuries have supported biodiverse forests providing abundant food and medicine to people. Hawaiians who only took what they needed. Those days of abundance and food sovereignty are long gone,” writes Nina Lakhani. “Rows of limp lemon trees struggle on sandy, windswept slopes, worn out by decades of sugarcane cultivation.Agricultural runoff choking the ocean reef and water shortages, linked to over-tourism and global warming, threaten the future viability of this island paradise.Between 85% and 90% of the Food consumed on Maui now comes from imports as diet-related illnesses soar and the state allocates less than 1% of its budget to agriculture.


‘Peecycling’ our way to sustainable agriculture

The New York Times

“In the rural county where I live,” writes Robert Leonard, “[w]We simply don’t have enough staff… to fill vacancies. A local manufacturer told me last week that all three shifts were working fully for the first time since the pandemic began and that it desperately needed more workers. The story is the same in many parts of rural America, where most of America’s domestic food, fuel and fiber production comes from. Much of this workforce is seasonal. Without workers, businesses die. While the entire country is suffering from a labor shortage, rural America is particularly hard hit, in part because many rural Americans are moving to larger metropolitan areas. We need immigrants. Every rural industry leader I’ve spoken with, regardless of political affiliation, wants immigration reform.



Cognitive dissonance in American dairy country

Washington Monthly

“Farmers respect hard work, family, dedication. With few exceptions, the Mexicans they hire share these qualities. Mexican fathers milk cows while trying to raise misbehaving sons who live 3,000 km away with their mothers. Immigrant hands send wages home to build houses they hope to one day move into when they can return to their country. They work six and seven days a week for years, doing jobs no American will do for the low wages farmers pay,” writes Brian Alexander. “[Ruth] Conniff farmers marvel at it all. Some come to not only respect immigrant workers, but also to love them. But Conniff also makes the evil clear, both explicitly and implicitly. Farm owners are twisting the convoluted political gymnastics that allow them to vote for Trump in 2020 while supporting their workers’ ability to live in the United States despite staying illegally.

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