FERN’s Friday Feed: Can this bee save the almond industry?

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

Building a backup bee

FERN and Scientific American

With the all-important honeybee decimated by pesticides, parasites, and disease, The Wonderful Company — the world’s largest almond grower — hired Gordon Wardell, a bee biologist, to develop an alternative pollinator. The blue orchard bee, or BOB, was the obvious choice: it is a highly efficient pollinator, and could be woken from its winter sleep in time for the early almond harvest. But it had never been raised at scale, or at a cost that made sense. Until now.

A history of Manila in nine dishes

Roads & Kingdoms

“As go Manila’s natives, so goes its cuisine,” writes Timi Siytangco. “The food of Manila reflects a predilection for welcoming outsiders, for taking them in and helping them integrate, for better or for worse.” Through nine dishes, Siytangco shares the cultural and culinary history of the Philippines. From adobo to pica-pica to halo-halo, each dish tells of a place adapting to newcomers and integrating their most delicious flavors into traditional dishes.

The failures of forest certification

Yale Environment 360

The Forest Stewardship Council, formed in 1993, was meant to set sustainability standards practices that would keep the timber industry honest. But over its 25-year history, the council has been wracked with scandals and evidence that its members are engaging in illegal logging. “Sooner or later, industry will have to face up to the painful reality that it needs a far more rigorous forest certification scheme, combined with governmental regulation — for instance, to stop those land conversions — if it wants there to be any forests left to profit from in the future,” writes Richard Conniff.

The explorer who changed what Americans eat

NPR’s The Salt

For 37 years, starting in the late 19th century, a botanist named David Fairchild traveled the world gathering seeds and cuttings and shipping them back to the U.S. in a quest that transformed what we ate: avocados, kale, mangoes, soybeans, dates, quinoa, lemons—foods we eat every day. Fairchild visited every continent except Antarctica, and survived disease, accidents, and attacks, says Daniel Stone, who tells Fairchild’s story in a new book, The Food Explorer. Sometimes he stole, but more often flattered and cajoled the locals into giving him the seeds he was after. Like the time he convinced a wary brewer in Bavaria, by drinking with him in a beer hall, to part with the hops that greatly improved American beer.

A culinary tour of the Olympics

The New York Times

Restaurant owners near Gangneung Olympic Park prepared for the masses in the lead-up to the Pyeongchang Olympics. But tourists and athletes have proven less than adventurous in their culinary pursuits, sticking close to the Olympic Village cafeterias or American fast-food outposts. So reporter Andrew Keh went on a Korean food binge, and wrote up some of his best finds. “Eating here this month has been like binge-watching IMAX movies I’d only seen on airplanes,” he writes. Of particular delight are photos of octopus and fish dishes served so fresh that they’re still twitching on the plate.

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