Editor’s Desk: Food, water, seeds

Residents distribute cases of water at Grove Park Community Center in Jackson, Mississippi, in September 2022. Jackson had gone days without clean running water, with authorities urging those who still had supplies to shower with their mouths closed. Photo by Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images)

By Samuel Fromartz

FERN likes stories that connect the dots on issues often seen as unrelated, disconnected. The lack of drinking water, for example, is not generally seen as tied up with the problem of chronic food insecurity. Reporter Lela Nargi, in FERN’s latest story, “Why America’s food-security crisis is a water-security crisis, too,” found the two were actually intimately connected. She writes: “Public health researchers talk about food and nutrition, while water researchers are siloed in infrastructure circles, and it’s rare for the two worlds to overlap. ‘We need to build a bridge between those two disciplines,’ says Sera Young, an associate professor of anthropology and health at Northwestern University.” Because food insecurity increases the probability of water insecurity. 

Food insecurity came up, too, in Kea Krause’s story, “What seed-saving can tell us about the end of the world.” She considers the future of seeds, and her desire to save them, in a world facing greater stress. “The continued viability of seeds will play a major role in whether we succeed or fail … as climate change collides with our food system, spreading drought, collapsing ecosystems, and destroying crops and livelihoods,” she writes in the story, produced in collaboration with Orion. “Climate and agriculture are already locked in an ouroboros of dysfunction, as the way we produce our food contributes to the greenhouse gas emissions that further weaken our ability to produce food in that same way — the snake eating its tail while we dream of a 1.5-degree warming goal.”

We hope you get a chance to read these stories during the long Thanksgiving break. We also hope you consider donating to FERN during the launch of what is the traditional giving season for nonprofits. We have more great work coming — on everything from carbon farming to interviews with prominent food systems thinkers. It’s your support that allows us to do this kind of work, so we hope you will consider a donation