FERN’s Friday Feed: The promise of fly farming

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

The rise of industrial-scale insect farms


“Insects are starting to enter the commercial agricultural food chain, albeit indirectly, through animal feed and pet food,” writes Lynn Schnaiberg. “Shoppers can now buy fly-fed farmed trout in French supermarkets, eggs from fly-fed chickens in the Netherlands, and premium pet foods made with crickets in Chicago or with flies in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Europe. Nascent industrial-scale insect farms are starting to dot the globe, with big feed and pet-food players such as Cargill, Skretting, Bühler, and Purina getting into the game.”

How food, as much as homicide, made Mare of Easttown a hit

New York Magazine

“‘Their dietary preferences are a little bit mind-blowing,’ says Susannah McCarthy, props master for HBO’s Mare of Easttown, of its inhabitants. The miniseries, which aired its finale on Sunday, has enraptured audiences for seven weeks,” writes Casey Mink. “Not since Tony Soprano has eat-acting been so enmeshed with a performance, and [Kate] Winslet couldn’t have done it without McCarthy, a local to the Philadelphia suburb where the show was shot, who made each hoagie, cheesesteak, and Rolling Rock a reality.”

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How U.S. mega-dairies are killing off small farms

The Guardian

“Across the U.S., dairy farmers have struggled beneath the weight of an industry-wide economic crisis. T​he cause ​is the massive overproduction of milk by large dairy operations, which has​ ​saturated the market, ​driving prices ​down well below the cost of production,” writes Debbie Weingarten. “Proponents of mega-dairies cite efficiency and economies of scale, arguing that the model is simply the next logical step in dairying. But opponents, including Levins, say such operations do incalculable damage to the environment and rural communities, and capture bigger slices of a finite milk and cheese market — to the detriment of smaller dairies barely hanging on.”

Destination-dining at America’s gas stations


“Gas station eats provide a unique window into a region and a community, reflecting local tastes (Salmon jerky in the Pacific Northwest! Boiled peanuts in the South! Wawa!), demographics, and immigration patterns. Gas stations have historically been a valuable entrepreneurial foothold for immigrants in America, and today you’ll find some of the best sharska saag, tamales, lamb kabobs, and dak bulgogi sold alongside lotto tickets and 5 Hour Energies at gas stations nationwide.”

Pesticides are killing the world’s soils

Scientific American

“[B]eneath fields covered in tightly knit rows of corn, soybeans, wheat and other monoculture crops, a toxic soup of insecticides, herbicides and fungicides is wreaking havoc, according to our newly published analysis in the journal Frontiers in Environmental Science,” write Nathan Donley and Tari Gunstone. “The study, the most comprehensive review ever conducted on how pesticides affect soil health, should trigger immediate and substantive changes in how regulatory agencies like the EPA assess the risks posed by the nearly 850 pesticide ingredients approved for use in the U.S.”