FERN’s Friday Feed: Our mango republic

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

U.S. policy traps migrants in ‘open-air prison’ in Mexico

FERN and The Nation

“In 2019, after President Donald Trump threatened to levy a 5 percent tariff on all Mexican goods unless the country agreed to beef up its immigration enforcement, Mexico deployed troops along its southern border with Guatemala, limiting the free movement of migrants,” writes Esther Honig. “As a result, countless people have been trapped in Tapachula, a sprawling border town … Many of the migrants take jobs in agriculture. They are helping to bolster the region’s multimillion-dollar export industry, and yet, even as the migrants provide desperately needed labor in the packing houses and the fields, reports abound of workplace discrimination and wage theft. The bitterest irony of all is that the coffee, bananas, and mangoes that the migrants are helping to harvest are destined for the very country responsible for keeping them here.”

It’s time to stop trying to save Lake Powell, and abandon it

The New York Times

“Each day on average for the past 60 years, the equivalent of 61 supersize Mississippi River barge-loads of sand and mud have been deposited [in California’s Lake Powell],” writes Dale Maharidge. “For years this mud was hidden beneath Lake Powell’s blue waters. Now, as climate change and overuse of the Colorado have drawn the reservoir down to record lows, the silt is exposed — forming ‘mud glaciers‌‌.’ And because of a gradient created when the lake level falls, the giant mud blobs are moving at a rate of 100 feet or more per day toward the dam. These advancing mud blobs pose existential threats to the water supply of the Southwest.”

How nature reclaimed a Houston neighborhood

Emergence Magazine

“[T]his peninsula was once home to a luxury housing development for oil executives and their families, where stately houses lined the shorefront offering dramatic views of the San Jacinto Monument in the distance,” writes Lacy M. Johnson. “Now the old streets of that neighborhood have become biking trails where an occasional manhole cover marks a long-filled sewer. Trees grow in a thicket around an old fire hydrant. Back in the bramble, between wetland and shore, the empty husks of abandoned underground pools fill with layers of leaves, water, dirt. Twice a day, the tide peels back to reveal concrete foundations skidding into the bay. Just enough of the past survives to show us a place that is no longer here.”

Handing down family secrets, one dish at a time

The Guardian

“I wonder what motivates some to divulge their recipes while others prefer not to. Perhaps it’s a difference in the idea of ‘ownership’ – do recipes belong to anyone, can they be plagiarised, stolen even? Or are we merely stewards, just one stop in a recipe’s long trajectory? For those with closely guarded family recipes,” writes Shahnaz Ahsan, “they are more than just a set of instructions: they are inherited fragments of family history. Being part of a select club who know the key ingredient for Grandpa’s lasagne, or the exact proportions for Aunty’s biryani can even strengthen familial bonds. Recipes become an edible continuation of heritage.”

How Indigenous people are restoring Brazil’s Atlantic Forest


“One of the defining terms of 21st-century beer culture, ‘dank’ evidently stems from a separate but adjacent subculture,” writes Danny Chau. “It is a metonym, a word that stands in for a concept it’s closely associated with, an evocation of a shared understanding, like how the word ‘dish’ can be used to refer to a preparation of food and not just the vessel that holds it. And for more than half a century, ‘dank’ has been American slang to describe fresh and pungent cannabis. But the ties that bind weed (Cannabis sativa) and hops (Humulus lupulus) run deep; their common ancestry can be traced back more than 25 million years.”