FERN’s Friday Feed: Salad with a side of appropriation

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


The Nation

Washington, D.C.-based salad chain Sweetgreen has, “[s]ince as far back as 2008…been using hip hop as a tool to introduce itself to customers,” writes Aaron Ross Coleman. But the company has almost never located an outpost in a low-income neighborhood or community of color. “In fact, at the end of 2018, 95 percent of Sweetgreen’s 89 nationwide locations were located in predominantly white ZIP Codes, with an average (median) income of $97,129.15. This segregation is no small feat, given that the store operates in large urban areas from Boston to Los Angeles, cities with historical and huge black communities.”

How farmers discuss climate change

Columbia Journalism Review

Agricultural trade journals have become an important resource and discussion forum for farmers navigating the new realities of our changing climate. “Olive Oil Times’s 2018 harvest survey, for which the trade publication polled thousands of olive growers in dozens of countries, reads like a summary of the manifestations of climate change around the world,” writes Elizabeth Hewitt. “Connected with 30 writers in agricultural communities around the world, the Times gathers on-the-ground insights into climate change’s volatile, local impacts.

The possible link between U.S. farms and a fungal infection outbreak

Mother Jones

A mysterious fungal infection has been plaguing patients at hospitals around the globe—and some are looking to fungicides used on farms as a possible culprit. “Farms and hospitals the world over rely on functionally the same set of chemicals to fight fungal pathogens—those that attack crops and those that attack people,” writes Tom Philpott. “No definitive link has been established between agricultural fungicides and C. auris, and the pathogen’s sudden emergence remains a mystery. But farm-based fungicide use is under suspicion from scientists in Europe and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a possible trigger for it.”

Rebuilding Puerto Rico’s food system

How We Get to Next

“When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September, 2017, it destroyed much of the island’s agriculture — and it seemed as if all the work done up to that point could have been decimated as well,” writes Alicia Kennedy. There is still plenty of work to be done rebuilding the island’s food system. “But 18 months after the storm, it’s clear that any fear of Puerto Rico’s food-sovereignty movement’s failure was unfounded. Instead, the cause is thriving.”

The transformation of Huntington, W.V.

The Washington Post

Huntington, West Virginia, was once dubbed the fattest city in America. But in the past decade, the city’s efforts have resulted in striking health improvements among its residents. “The CDC’s latest metropolitan health survey found that the city’s rate of obesity among adults had dropped a whopping 13 points, from 45.5 to 32.6 percent, even as the overall rate in West Virginia remained the highest in the nation,” write Brent Cunningham and Jane Black. How? City-sponsored exercise events, fresh food markets, and other efforts with “institutional roots in the community” have laid the groundwork for better health.