FERN’s Friday Feed: The Alaska fishing industry’s Covid-19 battle

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

Alaska tries to contain Covid-19 as thousands of seafood workers arrive


In Alaska, fear of the spread of Covid-19 has cast a pall over the fishing community as the state’s fishing season gets underway. “The weeks leading up to the fishery are typically full of excitement and anticipation. But not this year,” writes Miranda Weiss. “Fishermen are struggling to comply with a confusing mix of state and local rules as they fix their boats and prep gear. Gatherings–including an annual pig roast hosted by a marine repair and fabrication company–have been cancelled. With faces covered, old friends are hard to identify. People are wary of shaking hands.”

How Europe has avoided the Covid-19 catastrophe ravaging U.S. meatpacking plants


Europe has contained Covid-19 at its meatpacking plants much more effectively than the United States has, writes Bridget Huber. “More than nine times as many meat industry workers have tested positive for coronavirus in the United States than in Europe – and dozens more American workers have died – according to figures from governments, media reports and unions, though the U.S. meat industry employs only a third more people,” she writes. The discrepancy is in part explained by “differences in baseline worker protections, the ways the industry is structured, and the political response to the virus.”

Food media’s racism problem is bigger than Bon Appétit


The resignation of Bon Appétit editor Adam Rapoport this week opened the door for broader conversations about racism in food media. “Rapoport losing his job comes as food media has acknowledged its need to diversify the voices it amplifies,” writes Alex Abad-Santos. “In the past few years, the food industry has just begun to reckon with deep-rooted issues around race, ethnicity, and culture. In Bon Appétit’s case and in food media as a whole, food is often seen through the lens of predominantly white writers and video stars and presented to readers who are presumed to be white.”

In California, food banks are struggling to keep up with demand

High Country News

About a quarter of the population of California is facing food insecurity, putting a strain on food banks that are struggling to keep up. “But the worst may be yet to come, thanks to the ongoing recession,” writes Maya L. Kapoor. “Regional food banks, which are designed to be safety nets, not main sources of food, fear that they won’t be able to meet the swelling need.”

A vision for restaurants after the pandemic

The Guardian

“[A]s restaurants start to reopen next month in a socially distanced format, most kitchens are likely to return to their regular routine, just with a bit more outdoor seating and perspex partitions, gracefully pivoting back from their newfound social commitments. But there is still hope that some restaurants will cling to this renewed focus on community in a post-coronavirus landscape,” writes Jonathan Nunn from London. “Not only should access to healthy, nutritious food be a universal right, but social eating can be a solution for those reliant on mutual aid networks, whether they are elderly, disabled, vulnerable or simply lonely.”