FERN’s Friday Feed: The race to solve America’s feral hog crisis

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

Can the ‘pig brig’ stop feral hogs?

FERN and National Geographic

“Over centuries, this adaptable, omnivorous creature has rooted its way from Florida to Kansas, inundated Texas and California, and recently has been banging for entry at the northern border of Montana,” writes Stephen R. Miller. “Today, there are between six and nine million hogs running wild across at least 42 states and three territories. The exact number is difficult to pin down, and the estimated cost of the damage they cause—probably about $2.5 billion annually, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture—is likely an underestimate.”

Tacos, feminism and cultural resistance

Texas Public Radio (audio)

“Texas Mexican cooking is not Tex-Mex cuisine. Its history traces back thousands of years to the indigenous peoples who lived off the land in South Texas and northern Mexico. Women played a central role in its creation and it was the generations that followed suit who led the cultural resistance against colonization and kept their heritage alive. ‘We don’t credit the originators,’ said Adán Medrano, chef, author and executive producer of Truly Texas Mexican, a new documentary inspired. ‘(Women) are the originators and they have been erased from the history. All of the famous chefs and voices that you see on television, they’re all men.’”

Syngenta’s deadly cost-benefit analysis on paraquat

The Intercept and Le Monde

The herbicide paraquat is highly effective. It also is “extraordinarily toxic to humans,” “has no antidote” and, according to one estimate, is responsible for “tens of thousands of deaths” from poisoning worldwide. As Sharon Lerner writes, there is a mountain of evidence that Syngenta, paraquat’s maker, refused to alter the formula to make it less lethal, lest they jeopardize the herbicide’s “considerable” profits. Per a 1990 company memo: “At this dilution level, formulation and packing costs would be increased and product usage by farmers would reduce very significantly because of bulk inconvenience and higher prices … We see no reason to change proactively from our current formulations.”

Why the ‘Hollywood Con Queen’ cozied up to London’s foodie elite

The Guardian

Hargobind Punjabi Tahilramani, a 41-year-old Indonesian from a privileged background, was already under investigation by the FBI when he turned up in London claiming, via a flurry of aliases and bluster, that he “worked for Netflix” and “wanted to become a major player in the food world and to develop the TV side of Instagram with a kind of gastronomy channel,” writes Andrew Anthony. The question is why? “It seems likely that … Tahilramani had no financial ploy to play on London’s restaurants. He just wanted to be part of a world that he found glamorous, and the only means of entry he knew were lying, manipulation, exaggeration and threats.”

The timeless appeal of Tuccissimo

The New Yorker

“‘He’s no Bourdain,’ one CNN devotee in my life said, of Tucci, unprompted,” writes Helen Rosner in her review of the CNN series Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy. “I suppose I agree, though that’s sort of like saying that a langoustine isn’t a porterhouse. Like Tucci, Anthony Bourdain was rich in charisma and possessed unlikely sex appeal. But Bourdain the travel-show host served as a spotlight, fondly illuminating the people and places around him. Tucci is an electromagnet. Even when he’s in a crowd, he seems like the only person on the screen, and the show is at its best when it stops fighting the desire to focus entirely on him.”