FERN’s Friday Feed: What a bee knows

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

Bees, they’re just like us!

The Guardian

“When Stephen Buchmann finds a wayward bee on a window inside his Tucson, Arizona, home, he goes to great lengths to capture and release it unharmed,” writes Annette McGivney. “Buchmann’s kindness – he is a pollination ecologist who has studied bees for over 40 years – is about more than just returning the insect to its desert ecosystem. It’s also because Buchmann believes that bees have complex feelings, and he’s gathered the science to prove it. This March, Buchmann released a book that unpacks just how varied and powerful a bee’s mind really is … It argues that bees can demonstrate sophisticated emotions resembling optimism, frustration, playfulness and fear, traits more commonly associated with mammals.”

The revival of American ‘salting’

Bloomberg Businessweek

“The practice of joining a workplace with the secret aim of organizing it is called ‘salting.’ [Will] Westlake was addressing recruits at the Inside Organizer School, a workshop held a couple times a year by a loose confederation of labor organizers. At these meetups, experienced activists train other attendees in the art of going undercover,” writes Josh Eidelson. “[H]ow to pass employer screenings, forge relationships with co-workers and process the complicated feelings that can accompany a double life. Most salts are volunteers, not paid union officials, but unions sometimes fund their housing or, later, tap them for full-time jobs. Workers United, the Service Employees International Union affiliate that’s home to the new Starbucks union, hired Westlake as an organizer around the time the coffee chain fired him last fall.”

America doesn’t know tofu

Asterisk Magazine

“A common misconception outside of Asian communities is that tofu is just an ingredient. In fact, it’s an entire category of proteins,” writes George Stiffman. “Just as a chef would never cook chicken breast like chicken feet, so too are these tofus completely different from one another. They have different strengths and weaknesses. They have different flavors. They have different mouthfeels. It’s not like substituting a black bean for a kidney bean. Because these tofus are so different from one another, and from meat, each one opens up its own world of culinary possibilities. These are the most versatile plant-based proteins in existence.”

The egg war that shaped the early history of San Francisco

Literary Hub

“The Egg War began unofficially in 1848 with the Gold Rush. San Francisco started the year with a mere thousand souls, but over the next twelve months the population rose to twenty-​five thousand. The city experienced scarcities of women and of food, particularly protein. Scaling up farms to provide for the local population proved harder than it seemed. Nobody could get large groups of chickens to survive there, and the technical solutions to this problem were decades off. Without chickens, of course, there could be no eggs. And without eggs, there could be no cakes, morning scrambles, pancakes, puddings, or muffins,” writes Lizzie Stark. “As gold poured into the city, the prices for fresh eggs skyrocketed … If someone could bring good fresh eggs to San Francisco Bay, he would more than make his fortune.”

The U.S. needs more native seeds

The Conversation

“Native plants have evolved with local climates and soil conditions. As a result, they generally require less maintenance, such as watering and fertilizing, after they become established, and they are hardier than non-native species,” write Julia Kuzovkina and John Campanelli. “Many federal, state and city agencies rank native plants as a first choice for restoring areas that have been disturbed by natural disasters or human activities like mining and development. Repairing damaged landscapes is a critical strategy for slowing climate change and species loss. But there’s one big problem: There aren’t enough native seeds.”