FERN’s Friday Feed: Eat more ‘rough’ fish

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

The idea of ‘trash’ fish is cultural, and we need to get over it

The Counter

“Every year in the U.S., some 30 million anglers cast lures, flies, and bait into freshwater streams and rivers and lakes. Their prey: so-called game- or sportfish like black bass, chinook salmon, and steelhead trout,” writes Lela Nargi. “In these same waters flicker and dart fish species so disfavored among this group of anglers that they’re referred to as “rough” or “trash” or “dirt” fish.” This is a problem, because “thinking of some native fish like gar, suckers, and bigmouth buffalo as undesirable is trashing the earth’s biodiversity and the ecosystem services that biodiversity delivers.”

The milk bars of Rwanda

The New York Times

“In Rwanda, milk is a beloved drink and the milk bars are a favorite place to indulge, combining the pleasures of the beverage with a communal atmosphere,” writes Abdi Latif Dahir. “Men and women, young and old, sit on benches and plastic chairs throughout the day, glass mugs before them, gulping liters upon liters of fresh milk or fermented, yogurt-like milk, locally known as ‘ikivuguto.’ Some patrons drink it hot, others like it cold. Some — respecting an old custom of finishing your cup at once — chug it down quickly, while others sip it slowly while eating snacks like cakes, chapatis and bananas.”

In Illinois, a conservation push clashes with a Black farming community


In Pembroke Township, Illinois, “[s]ixty miles south of Chicago, this wildlife reserve is among nearly 2,900 acres owned by private individuals and environmental groups — most prominently, The Nature Conservancy — trying to establish a network of nature sanctuaries in Kankakee County,” writes Tony Briscoe. But what “the well-intended efforts of mostly white nature conservationists overlook” is that the “township’s Black farming community has never fully supported them. Now, a generations-old way of life is threatened by the push for conservation.”

Sign up for text alerts from FERN

We want to make it easier for you to keep up with all things FERN, including getting notified of FERN’s latest reporting. If that sounds appealing, text FERN to (866) 551-0955 to opt into our brand new (and low-key) SMS messaging service*.

*By providing your mobile number you consent to receive cell phone and text communications from FERN. Msg & data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe at any time by texting STOP to (866) 551-0955. Terms and privacy policy available here. 

Trader Joe wrote a memoir

The New Yorker

“For anyone who has visited a Trader Joe’s and experienced its dazzling array of foods, its bargain-basement prices, and its cheerful and hyper-competent staff, and wondered, What’s the catch?, ‘Becoming Trader Joe’ provides many of the answers, most of which are satisfying and delightful,” writes Carrie Battan. “The book is a sort of ‘Kitchen Confidential’ for the grocery business, but without the drugs or rage. In the age of Jeff Bezos and an endless stream of news about worker exploitation and corporate imperialism, it’s nice to go behind the scenes of a beloved national chain without uncovering insidious forces at work.”

The burger ‘chain’ that sustained a generation of Arab immigrants


Burger Baron launched in Calgary, Alberta, in 1957. It boomed, briefly, before going bust in 1961. Then a funny thing happened: Burger Barons, serving all sorts of things, from Chinese food to shawarma, started popping up all over western Canada. “The knockoffs all seemed to be linked to a single Lebanese family named Kemaldean,” writes Omar Mouallem. “A couple members of the family had bought up a few of the last original Burger Barons after the bankruptcy, often at a bargain price. What Terry [McConnell, son of the founder] hadn’t known, and wouldn’t know until I interviewed him this year for The Last Baron, a documentary about the storied restaurant, is that it wasn’t one Lebanese family behind the reboot, but many, including mine.”