FERN’s Friday Feed: Sitting ducks

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

Facing the flood in California’s San Joaquin Valley

FERN and The California Report

“California is fighting a slow-motion disaster, one that could become its largest flood in recent history,” writes Teresa Cotsirilos. “As the near-record snowpack in the Sierra mountains melts, the water making its way through the foothills is pooling in the basin, reviving a lake that had long disappeared. This process is expected to accelerate over the coming weeks and months, and it could take up to two years to subside. And while the return of Tulare Lake could devastate everyone in the region, historically disenfranchised communities like Allensworth are uniquely vulnerable.”

How virtuous are home-composter machines?

The New Yorker

“Using the machines was fun; they made disposal feel like creation, not waste. But is that a good thing? Many proponents of traditional composting find products such as the Lomi and the FoodCycler galling, because, despite what a person might infer from how they’re marketed, they do not actually create compost,” writes Helen Rosner. “They have blades or shears, to grind, and heating elements, to dehydrate. What emerges, at the end of a process cycle, is not the nutritious black gold that results from a proper compost system but, rather, an organic fluff of nicely cooked, thoroughly dried-out stuff.”

The fight for fair wages

The New York Review of Books

“For our economy to function in its current form, hourly workers must toil at unpleasant jobs for very little money,” writes Willa Glickman. “Nearly a third of the US workforce makes less than fifteen dollars an hour—40 percent of female workers, 47 percent of Black workers, and 57 percent of working single parents. A number of recent books about low-wage work show the human misery behind that status quo. Together they describe a system that may well be nearing a breaking point. From this instability has grown some of the most high-profile grassroots labor organizing in decades. While the success of the movement is far from certain, it may offer the only way out.”

‘Go do sushi. Sushi is good’

Los Angeles Times

“It was the meal that changed how Angelenos eat. And it happened more than 5,000 miles from Los Angeles. When Noritoshi Kanai and Harry Wolff Jr. sat down for dinner in Tokyo one night in 1965, they had no way of knowing they were about to stumble onto an idea that would upend American dining — and their own lives,” writes Daniel Miller. “On this evening, the colleagues had more urgent concerns on their minds: how to salvage a foundering trip in Asia that was launched to find a novel food product to import to the U.S. That item, it turns out, was actually on the menu. Sushi.”

Saving the monarch migration


“[T]his story has no real beginning and no end. The signature orange-and-black wings edged with white dots of the Danaus plexippus, or the monarch butterfly, have bedazzled humans for centuries,” writes Romina Cenisio. “Their awe-inspiring migration is a cycle that repeats each year, spanning three countries. This journey is part of a deeply interconnected symbiosis with other species that ultimately supports us too. From grasslands to roadsides to forests, monarchs are essential pollinators that enrich diversity in flowering plants across North America. So we will start here, at the beginning of the fall migration in Cerro Pelón, just as this generation of monarchs has arrived at their winter home … They were born in the U.S. and have just arrived after traveling up to 2,500 miles, being the great-great grandchildren of the generation that last came to Mexico exactly a year ago.”