FERN’s Friday Feed: If you can’t beat it, eat it

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

The ‘invasivore’s’ dilemma

The New York Times

A decade ago, a new front opened in the long fight against invasive species: “restaurants and home kitchens, where we are slowly learning to defeat the enemy bite by bite,” writes Ligaya Mishan. But while this otherwise “epicurean decision” is framed “as a civic duty, a heroic act, even a declaration of war … [i]s dining on nature’s predators an act of environmentalism — or just a new way for humans to bend the world to our will?”

To eat meat or not. If only it were that simple.

Orion Magazine

“The meat is gone. The group breaks into song. So, I think, as cheap vodka comes around again, it’s not about eating meat or not,” writes Amy Irvine. “Mongolians — like so many other poor, Indigenous people living in increasingly harsh conditions around the globe — will never be able to grow tofu or arugula. For them, it’s about living small so the animals can live large. It’s about living so close you see the goop, the grit, the worm. About not looking away when life drains out. Being on your knees in that moment, a supplicant to life ending the way you were on the day the same animal was born.”

‘A letter to my unborn son’


“You will also eat for joy. Your mother and I believe doing so is essential to living well. We show our love through cooking for and with each other,” writes Caleb Johnson. “As soon as you can stand on a chair, you will help in the kitchen. Eventually, you will wash mushrooms, peel potatoes, slice onions, season lamb. You will spoon dumplings, grate beets, stem greens. For dessert, we will bake blackberry cobblers and your mother’s pavlova. We will plant a garden, knowing our small actions ripple far beyond our home. In warm weather we will feast on a porch with our old dog, Hugo, panting until we share off our plates.”

How OSHA went AWOL during the pandemic

The American Prospect and FairWarning

“Since the pandemic began, OSHA, whose mission is ‘to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women,’ … has received over 10,000 complaints from workers concerned about a lack of protections against the coronavirus,” writes Bryce Covert. “But until early September, six months into the crisis, the agency had issued citations to just two employers, requiring them to adopt safer practices, according to available OSHA records. As of September 4, it had conducted just 199 inspections in response to complaints, and it’s already closed more than 8,500 of them without taking further action.”

When sherry aged at sea

Atlas Obscura

A year-long voyage to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the first-ever crossing of the Pacific Ocean by a European — Portuguese and Spanish explorers Ferdinand Magellan and Juan Sebastian Elcano — is also recreating another great Spanish tradition: aging wine at sea. The ancient practice dates back to the Phoenicians; in Ancient Rome, Pliny the Elder wrote that in “wines shipped over sea … it is observed that the effect of the motion on vintages that can stand it is merely to double their previous  maturity.” It also inspired the nickname of the González Byass sherry aboard the Elcano: Estrella de los Mares, or ‘Star of the Seas.’”