FERN’s Friday Feed: Why home cooking won’t save us

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


Some food pundits argue that home cooking is the ticket to better diets and a healthier society. But a new book challenges that worldview. “It’s not that foodie doctrine is wrong, exactly — home-cooked meals are great, we should eat more vegetables, it is nice when families eat together,” writes Rachel Sugar, “but rather that the prescriptions of (mostly white, mostly male) public food intellectuals stop making sense when confronted with real life.”

Don’t Miss FERN at SXSW!

This week, FERN’s Leah Douglas is in Austin moderating two panels at SXSW. Get up to speed on the events with our Q&A with panelist Ken Ward Jr., an award-winning reporter from West Virginia, and a list of four reasons not to miss our panel on The Future of Big Food. Both stories are in front of the paywall at FERN’s Ag Insider, so even if you’re not an Ag Insider subscriber, you can read up (and then subscribe here!). And if you’re at SXSW too, drop us a line!

Do harassment accusations affect business?


Dozens of restaurants have been ensnared in a series of sexual harassment and assault allegations against male celebrity chefs in the past two years. So, are diners still eating at those places? “A selection of 15 restaurants associated with accused men, including [Mario] Batali, [John] Besh, [Ken] Friedman, and Bay Area restaurateur Charlie Hallowell (who was accused of sexual harassment by 17 employees), experienced 17-percent less foot traffic over the course of 2018 than other restaurants visited by Foursquare users,” writes Monica Burton. “It appears that at least some diners have made the choice not to go to restaurants owned by bad men.”

How Netflix became the new Food Network

Fast Company

Where once the Food Network reigned, “[t]oday, it’s Netflix that has a growing global appetite to feed its audience a new type of food TV,” writes Cale Guthrie Weissman. “Such shows as Ugly Delicious, Nailed It!, The Final Table, Somebody Feed Phil, and Salt Fat Acid Heat represent a booming subsection within the service and have revived interest in the genre among a generation of Instagram-happy culinary adventurers for whom [Anthony] Bourdain is their Proustian comfort-food viewing.”

Meet the watermen who dive for oysters, with chefs in mind

The Washington Post

Diving to snatch oysters from the ocean floor has never been considered the most efficient way to harvest the mollusks commercially. But the oyster industry is changing. “[R]egulations, changing water quality and conditions, and the rise of aquaculture” have created new challenges — and also new opportunities for those willing to dive. Like Nick Hargrove and Derek Wilson. “The two men are building a decidedly modern business on the foundation of a traditional Chesapeake oyster plucked right from the bottom,” writes Stephanie Burt, “and area chefs are beginning to notice.”

Toxins from a military base menace New Mexico’s struggling dairy industry

Searchlight New Mexico

The toxins, collectively known as PFAS, have been linked to cancer, thyroid disease, and developmental disorders, writes Amy Linn. They “have caused rampant pollution on military installations, something the Department of Defense has known about for decades but routinely failed to disclose. Now the state’s dairy industry is ground zero in an unprecedented crisis. For the first time ever, PFAS is threatening the U.S. food supply.”