FERN’s Friday Feed: Thanksgiving in the ‘forever war’

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

The New York Times

“This year marks the 19th Thanksgiving since the beginning of the wars, occupations, operations and deployments that together form what the Pentagon calls the global war on terrorism,” writes C.J. Chivers. “Across all this time and terrain, a few million American service members, and those who labored beside them, have accumulated vast and varied observances of a quintessential American holiday spent at war.”

The complicated role of ‘natural’ wine in a time of virtuous consumption

The New Yorker

Over the last decade, so-called natural wines, like all things “artisanal,” have gone from the fringe to the mainstream in the U.S. They have “acquired a hipster cachet, with natural-wine bars popping up in cities from Seattle to Kansas City and Helena, Montana,” writes Rachel Monroe. “Kasimir Bujak, a buyer for the Wine Source, a store in Baltimore, told me, ‘It’s a trickle-down effect from Brooklyn—and that means people in Columbus are going to be drinking it next.’” But with mainstreaming has come complications for the wines’ role as a marker of virtuous consumption.

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Canada’s farmers on the brink

The Guardian

In 2018, farm income in Canada dropped by 45 percent. “The patchwork of farms across the vast landscape of Canada’s western prairie provinces has long been the source of much of the world’s supply of canola seed and wheat. But farmers across the region are increasingly feeling pushed to the brink by an unfolding crisis that shows little sign of easing,” writes Leyland Cecco.

What gentrification ignores


As Florida State University sprawled, the residents of Griffin Heights, a poor, black neighborhood in its path, kept doing what they’d always done: nourishing and caring for one another, with warm pound cake, collards and fresh boiled peanuts. “‘There’s a criminal part of the youth that nobody’s doing anything for and I try to counsel them,’ says Mr. Osborne. ‘Because I been in that life.’ Every so often, he soaks ribs or chicken in white vinegar, pats them dry, and dusts the meat with a rub and maybe some garlic powder or onion salt. Then he fires up the grills. He takes a plate next door to Mr. Harris, whose children I grew up with and who used to bring my mother rutabagas from his garden,” writes Rosalind Bentley. “The rest of the barbecue feeds some of those young men in the neighborhood still in the life. ‘I say, ‘We eatin’ today. We ain’t drugging or doing none of that. We feedin’ the soul today,’” Mr. Osborne told me.”

Navigating comfort food and Chinese-American identity


“I was born in America, but at my international school in Beijing, where I’d mostly grow[n] up, expat bullies prove unoriginal in their torture: The prevailing notion is that there’s no such thing as a fat Asian, so being one is an anomaly that leads to taunts and insults,” writes Nicole Zhu. Chinese media “stresses thinness, and job discrimination against overweight people is the norm (with a higher penalty for overweight women) … The requirement to be thin and petite was reinforced not only in media and pop culture, but also by people I interacted with on a daily basis. I was neither of those things, and that always made me feel less feminine, like a bad Asian.”