Photo credit: Ben Stechschulte

FERN’s Friday Feed: A salmon revival in New York

Welcome to FERN’s Friday Feed (#FFF), where we share the stories from this week that made us stop and think.

Can native salmon be resurrected in New York?

FERN and Adirondack Life

In upstate New York, an effort is underway to bring back a native run of landlocked salmon, absent for more than a century as a result of overfishing and dams, according to FERN’s latest story, published with Adirondack Life magazine. The story, by Paul Greenberg, focuses on the work of a Fish and Wildlife specialist to stock the Boquet River in New York with salmon that will then spawn and migrate into Lake Champlain. “While there are plenty of domestic salmon throughout the Adirondacks supported by hatcheries in Vermont and New York, what the Boquet experiment is all about is trying to back-breed a Boquet-specific salmon,” Greenberg writes. “Such a fish would migrate, spawn and breed offspring that would gradually readapt to the Boquet and become a new, native fish.”

In the 1920s, the Klan used barbecue to soften its image in Texas


“This is a story about Texas in the 1920s that reminds us of what happens when overt bigotry becomes socially acceptable,” writes Daniel Vaughn. “During that era, the Klan wrapped their racist anger in a shroud of morality and sought acceptance through false patriotism, using massive barbecues to draw onlookers and potential recruits with food and drink. Their aim was to normalize their group for a curious public who had likely read media accounts of the Klan’s vigilante violence, signature burning crosses, and hooded marches.”

FERN Talks & Eats is coming to Brooklyn on October 1st!

Join us for an engaging panel discussion that will delve into the #MeToo movement and issues of equity and inclusion in the restaurant business. Amanda Cohen, chef at Dirt Candy and one of our panelists, wrote an essay about this in Esquire, highlighting the media’s neglect of women chefs until the current scandals. “Women may not have value as chefs, but as victims we’re finally interesting!” she wrote. We’ll hear about the ways that #MeToo intersects with race, gender, class and identity politics – ultimately influencing the food on our plates. We’ll hear personal stories, discuss the problematic past, and reimagine a future restaurant culture. It’s a discussion that’s nothing if not timely. We hope you’ll join us. Tickets available!

The problem of ‘white people food’


With rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease soaring among African-Americans, the question of who gets to define a healthy diet is increasingly on the minds of chefs, nutritionists, academics and patients. “There’s nothing wrong with being nutritionally ambitious,” writes Kristen Aiken, “but we’ve cultivated a health food culture that’s unattainable for the multitudes who can neither afford nor identify with it.”

On the front lines of the fight against foodborne illness

Los Angeles Times

In a lab outside of Chicago, researchers from the FDA and Illinois Tech test the technology that hopefully will reduce outbreaks of foodborne illness, which cost between $55.5 billion and $93.2 billion a year in the United States. “They re-create the environment in which foodborne bacteria would survive and figure out how to kill them,” writes Ally Marotti. “Findings are published in scientific journals for the food-safety community to learn from. Meanwhile, scientists closely monitor outbreaks in the wild — like the salmonella-infected Honey Smacks — to inform their research.”

When the Labor Department tried to replace migrant farmworkers with high schoolers

NPR’s The Salt

It was 1965 when Labor Secretary W. Willard Wirtz rolled out a plan to hire 20,000 high school student-athletes as farmworkers over the summer. They would replace migrant farmworkers who worked in the country under the bracero program — which was a labor agreement with Mexico. Wirtz called a press conference announcing the project, called the Athletes in Temporary Employment as Agricultural Manpower, or A-TEAM. But things didn’t work out as he hoped. In California’s Salinas Valley, 200 teenagers from New Mexico, Kansas and Wyoming quit after just two weeks. Though some made it through, the program was considered a failure and was never tried again, though calls to replace immigrant farmworkers with American-born field workers echoes to this day.