Editor’s Desk: Summer reading from FERN and its writers

We hope you’re enjoying the summer and finding time to disconnect from the news cycle to actually rest and get some other reading done. On that score, a few suggestions.

If you haven’t read our story by Johnny Carrol Sain, published in collaboration with the magazine, Arkansas Life, I suggest you bookmark it. Sain, a former contract hog farmer for Cargill, unpacks the way hog farming changed in the state, and what that has meant for communities and families like his own. Think of it as “The CAFO Diaries.”

Next up, Barry Yeoman explores the fate of organic agriculture in the current farm bill debate in a FERN audio report produced with Nebraska public media, NET. The report, which appears in NET’s “On the Table” podcast, looks at the issue from Yeoman’s vantage point in North Carolina, where farmers are concerned.

Over at FERN’s Ag Insider, Chuck Abbott also reported that one-in-seven farmers who voted for Trump wouldn’t vote for him today. It parallels what we’ve been hearing in the spate of recent special elections. So how will this play out in October? Check out this piece we did not long ago by Brian Barth on a dark-horse Democrat taking on an ultra-conservative Republican representative in Iowa, which might have been unthinkable two years ago.

We’ve got more great #longreads over at our website, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to two FERN writers with books out.

Paul Greenberg has dropped his latest seafood book, The Omega Principle, which looks at popular fish oil and all that its exploitation has wrought on the seas, for business and for human health. Who knew so much could be packed into a fish-oil pill?

Barry Estabrook has updated his groundbreaking exposé, Tomatoland, in which he scrutinized the labor abuses suffered by farmworkers in Florida. In this third edition, he explores the changes that occurred after the 2011 book was published and shows how reforms in the labor system are playing out.

In other news, we’ve submitted two panels to next year’s SXSW festival—one on reporting on rural America under Trump, and another on the future of Big Food. Both feature our staff writer Leah Douglas, as well as an excellent lineup of FERN reporters and friends. But we need your help to get there! Vote for our panels here and here to help bring our big ideas to Austin in March 2019.

We hope you read – and share – these stories and please consider a donation to allow us to do this work in the future.