Welcome to FERN’s Friday Feed (#FFF), where we share the stories from this week that made us stop and think.
Fifty years on, we’re still cleaning up Agent Orange in Vietnam
From 1962 to 1971, the American military sprayed vast areas of Vietnam with Agent Orange, leaving dioxin contamination that has severely affected the health of three generations of Vietnamese. Now, as George Black explains in FERN’s latest story, the U.S. and Vietnamese governments have joined together in a massive cleanup project.
The Bitter Southerner
In 2016, Alon Shaya, the New Orleans chef whose eponymous restaurant was named America’s Best New Restaurant by the Beard Foundation, seemed to have it all. By 2018, when the restaurant group he worked for imploded in the #MeToo upheaval, Shaya seemed to lose it all (even though he wasn’t directly implicated). Today, with two new restaurants and his own hospitality group, the chef is trying to heal—himself, but also his corner of the industry.
“‘Breakfast food’ might be an arbitrary concept in America, but it’s a distinct one: cereal with milk, a cup of yogurt, eggs, muffins, fruit, oatmeal, juice,” writes Amanda Mull. “Maybe pancakes or waffles on the weekend, if you have some extra time. There are some regional variations, like bagels or biscuits, but the menu tends to be far more predictable than lunch or dinner. And although American breakfast isn’t nutritionally or philosophically cohesive, how the country goes about its morning meal isn’t a mistake. Modern breakfast in the United States tells the story of more than a century of cultural upheaval.”
In the aftermath of the Klondike fire in southern Oregon, a few of the state’s top wineries bought 2,000 tons of allegedly tainted grapes and made it into perfectly good wine. The incident revealed that as climate change affects our agriculture, “the notion of what is ‘standard’ and what is ‘flawed’ may also have to evolve,” writes Jason Wilson. “In places like Oregon, as wildfires become an expected annual event, the wine from certain harvests could very well become a little smoky. Take it or leave it: Smoke will become part of the terroir. Whether it will mean those wines are flawed should continue to fuel debate.”
More and more fast-food chains and restaurants are adding meatless burgers to their menus, and those that haven’t adapted are feeling the pressure. So far, McDonald’s and Chik-Fil-A are holdouts, but are reportedly exploring vegan menu items. And the faux-meat bubble is benefiting: “Restaurant chains are helping propel [Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat’s] massive growth and fuel plant-based vegan menu items’ mainstream acceptance,” writes Kate Taylor.