FERN’s Friday Feed: Many farmworkers fear Covid-19 testing

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

As virus spreads among farmworkers, many are afraid to get tested


Farmworkers in Immokalee, Florida, the nation’s tomato-growing capital, are testing positive at the rate of 24 new cases a day. In April, the town of roughly 30,000 — most of whom work in agriculture and many of whom are undocumented — had a total of 42 positive cases. Since then, that number has grown twelve-fold. Compounding the problem, as Elizabeth Royte explains, is that many workers are afraid to get tested or seek help, in light of President Trump’s vow to deport undocumented immigrants who utilize public services. As one local county commissioner put it: “People are fearful to admit they are symptomatic for fear of deportation.”

Misinformation was rampant, but 1918 pandemic gave lemons a leg up

Atlas Obscura

“In the fall of 1918, as influenza spread across the globe and the world clamored for a cure, the price of lemons skyrocketed,” writes April White. “From Rome to Rio to Boston, residents desperate for any small measure of protection hoarded the yellow fruit, which was said … to be both prophylactic and a remedy for the deadly virus. Newspaper articles promised the citrus was a ‘flue foe,’ and advised, ‘If you are not a flu victim deny yourself that glass of lemonade.’”

Restaurant kitchens are ripe for Covid-19 outbreaks

The Washington Post

As restaurants begin to tentatively reopen, “most of the public discussion about safety is focusing on the front of the house — where customers sit,” writes Annia Ciezadlo. “But in the back of the house, the part that most customers never see … Chefs and other kitchen staff are quietly raising the alarm about the prospect of returning to what once passed for normal: chaotic, overcrowded, poorly ventilated kitchens where everyone is shouting, everyone is touching multiple surfaces and nobody has time for safety precautions when the front of the house gets slammed.”

The long, sad history of ‘food destruction in the face of hunger’


“[A]s experts warn that the economic effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic could be comparable to the Great Depression in the U.S. and around the world, and as the International Monetary Fund predicts that the “Great Lockdown” could cause the worst recession since the 1930s,” writes Suyin Haynes, “similar scenes of crop destruction have taken place, with reports of U.S. farmers having to make difficult choices to dump their milk, slaughter their livestock and smash their eggs.”

A prawn in every pot

The New York Times

Spain’s “big, bright-red prawns … are the kind of delicacy that someone might eat once or twice in a year and remember fondly for the rest of it,” writes Raphael Minder. The tasty crustaceans garner as much as 100 euros a kilogram (about $50 a pound), and neary all of them are typically consumed in fancy restaurants. But “[w]ith dining rooms closed, that top-end market has disappeared, and the prawns are being picked up at vastly reduced prices by fishmongers who serve a much broader clientele than the elite customers of Spain’s best restaurants.”