Welcome to FERN’s Friday Feed (#FFF), where we share the stories from this week that made us stop and think.
“Since humans have been artificially illuminating the night, they have noticed insects congregating around lights,” writes Oliver Riskin-Kutz. “Entomologists took advantage: To find insects or count them, they turned on lights. People started using lights to attract insects more than three centuries ago and still today, researchers collect much of their insect population data with light traps at night … But think about what happens to those bugs, drawn to candle flames or gas stations, or entomologists’ light traps, for that matter. They’re incinerated, or mashed against a headlight, or become a well-lit snack for predators … Generations of insects later, the ones that remain are more likely to be the great-great-great-grandlarvae of the ones that stayed away.”
“In 2019, as the public became increasingly aware of the health risks from widespread water and soil contamination from PFAS, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which required the EPA to add certain PFAS compounds to the Toxics Release Inventory, or TRI, a public EPA database to which companies must legally report if they have ‘manufactured, processed, or otherwise used’ certain chemicals,” writes Sharon Lerner. “There are now 180 PFAS compounds on the list. But there are critical gaps in the requirements for reporting PFAS-containing waste, as the massive amount of unreported waste at the Nevada facility suggests.”
“The basic concept that these early economists were getting at is that as you consume more and more of a thing, each successive unit of that thing tends to bring you less satisfaction — or, to use the economic term, utility — than the previous one,” writes Joe Pinsker. “The same principle, I’d argue, applies to first bites: If the first half of a dish tends to be more satisfying than the second half, why not have the first half of two dishes instead of one whole dish? In other words, when you go to a restaurant, just share every dish with whomever you’re with. That way, you get more first bites.”
The New York Times
Two and a half years after the Covid pandemic began, we’re in a long-overdue moment of upheaval and evolution for the restaurant industry. And for once, restaurant owners are actually listening to the workers. That may be because they have to. Last year, seven out of 10 restaurateurs reported they didn’t have enough staff,” writes Saru Jayaraman. “These are difficult, stressful jobs, as ‘The Bear’ accurately illustrates. But people are willing to take them — and to work hard and with passion — if they’re treated and paid fairly. The restaurant industry’s problem isn’t, at its root, a labor shortage; it’s a wage shortage.”
“Diaspora Co., the five-year-old company with a mission of building a better spice trade, sold its first batch of kadipatta plants this year, sending small green shoots to homes across the country in May,” writes Bettina Makalintal. “Also known as curry leaf trees, kadipatta plants have leaves that lend crucial flavor to many South Asian dishes, but … they can be tricky to grow in the United States. So, to help its customers and their plants thrive, Diaspora has set up a hotline of sorts. With their purchase, buyers gained access to Diaspora’s Discord server, where a channel called Kadipatta Care Community connects plant parents with each other as well as with Zee Husain, who co-founded Cultural Roots Nursery and with whom Diaspora partnered to grow the plants.”