FERN’s Friday Feed: CVS sells more groceries than Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s combined

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

The Guardian 

Pharmacy chains, like CVS and Walgreens, are nibbling away at the grocery market. But the foods they offer — shelf-stable, highly processed — are in many cases turning “food deserts” into “food swamps,” writes Gabrielle Canon. “‘Simply making the fruits and vegetables available is not enough,’ says William McCarthy, an adjunct professor of public health at UCLA. ‘Part of the challenge is increasing the range of acceptable fruit and vegetable sources,’ so that shoppers have exposure to produce that is familiar to them. His research indicates that people won’t buy what they don’t have experience eating or preparing.”

“Unlike many Muslims, the Baye Fall do not fast during Ramadan. In fact, they do not participate in many Muslim practices, such as praying five times each day or abstaining from alcohol,” writes Katie Jane Fernelius. “Many Senegalese view them as stereotypical hippies: likely to hang around a beach, exude chillness, maybe even share hashish or something similar. But this image co-exists with a unique and central tenet of Baye Fall spiritual life: Instead of fasting or praying five times a day, they enact their faith through hard work and service to others.”

Farmers thought Trump would protect farmers from Big Meat, but instead he sold them out


The Obama administration managed, at the tail end of its tenure, to enact rules that restricted the meat industry’s ability to abuse contract farmers by arbitrarily changing contracts, denying their right to sue, and so on. Trump quickly rolled those rules back and proceeded to give the meat industry what it wants. “The administration’s siding with big meat companies over small farmers is already becoming campaign fodder for Trump’s opponents,” writes Isaac Arnsdorf. “Chicken farmers who considered themselves staunch Trump supporters say their worsening circumstances since he took office are making them reconsider their votes.”

A celebrated Mexican chef returns home to advise on food policy

The New York Times

“Gabriela Cámara is having a very good year,” Julia Moskin writes of the chef whose restaurants in Mexico and the U.S. are popular for their modern take on Mexican cuisine. “Ms. Cámara plans to move back to Mexico City this summer to advise the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a lifelong family friend, on food policy.” Yet she may face a few questions in her new appointment about a prior role she played on the administration’s tourism board.

Eating adventurously abroad


“Food is, without a doubt, the bridge between cultures. In every hole-in-the-wall taqueria or swanky corner bistro, you can get a glimpse of people’s way of life and their traditions through their food,” writes Woaria Rashid. “And if you travel to learn how locals live, go where they go, eat what they eat–you’ll find yourself challenging your senses at least once.” From durian to insects to whale meat, readers share their most adventurous overseas culinary experiences.