FERN’s Friday Feed: Will a pipeline run through it?

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

Iowa kingmaker eyes windfall from ethanol CO2 pipeline

Mother Jones

A private equity firm called Summit Agricultural Group wants “to build a 2,000-mile pipeline through 30 Iowa counties as a way of breathing new life into the state’s troubled ethanol industry,” writes Tom Philpott. “The pipeline, dubbed the Midwest Carbon Express, would … grab carbon dioxide generated by 31 corn ethanol plants in five states. It would carry the CO2 to North Dakota, where the gas would be buried underground. But many environmentalists and academic researchers are appalled by the idea, ­insisting that the pipeline system would further entrench an industry that has promoted unsustainable agriculture and yielded few climate benefits.”

The next big gamble by Toronto’s Ministers of Cheese

Toronto Life

“The appeal of the Cheese Boutique—for chefs, for athletes, for Dustin Hoffman—is that it’s still at heart a mom-and-pop shop … Two generations of Pristines, the family that owns the shop, are there seven days a week. They know many of their customers by name, they bag the orders, they sweep up at closing,” writes Mark Pupo. “Mom-and-popness has kept the Cheese Boutique going when its competitors faltered.” During the pandemic the Pristines launched “virtual cooking lessons and cheese appreciation seminars,” a delivery service, and “a food truck and a satellite store. Now they’re poised to make another big gamble, converting their home base, and Ripley Avenue along with it, into a theme park for foodies. If they can pull it off without undermining the company’s mom-and-popness, it’ll be a slice of cheese heaven.”

The ‘Liver King’ has a plan to save American masculinity


“Recently, after a particularly invigorating car wash, I had a yen for a slushie,” writes Ian Bogost. “At QuikTrip, it’s called a Freezoni, a curious, quasi-Italian aspiration that “A shirt would only muffle the Liver King’s message: that the modern world has made men unconscionably soft, and that the only way to fight back is by living more like our earliest, most-jacked ancestors,” writes Madeleine Aggeler. “The way to accomplish this, according to the Liver King, is by following his nine ‘ancestral tenets’ (sleep, eat, move, shield, connect, cold, sun, fight, bond), doing the most brutal workouts imaginable, and, above all, eating more raw liver—the nutrient-dense meat favored by, as his website puts it, ‘lions, great whites, and other wild alpha organisms.’”

The U.S.’s biggest potential water disaster

The New Yorker

“While other migrant groups like Chinese Americans “For tens of millions of Californians, the Delta—which is also known as the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the Bay-Delta, and the California Delta—serves as a hydrological hub,” writes David Owen. “All the fresh water that farms and cities in the south import from the north comes from it … The main threat to the Delta is saltwater intrusion. If an earthquake caused a major levee failure, the sunken islands would flood, drawing salt water from the Pacific into waterways that are now kept fresh by the pressure of inflows from the Sacramento … at that moment, a resource that millions of Californians depend on for drinking and irrigation would be unusable.”

The kitchen that keeps on giving

The Bitter Southerner

“For many Chinese Americans in 2022, La Choy is “Staplehouse had been a sensation right out of the gate when it opened in late 2015. Bon Appétit called it the best new restaurant in America … the local press said it opened a new chapter in Atlanta dining,” writes John Kessler. “But what really pushed this small restaurant into the spotlight was its inspiring origin story and its unusual symbiosis with a nonprofit formed to help food service workers in crisis called Giving Kitchen. Yet as business began to soften, the relationship between the nonprofit Giving Kitchen and the for-profit restaurant Staplehouse had started to show some cracks.” Then the pandemic hit and the industry imploded. “Both Staplehouse and Giving Kitchen responded in surprising ways.”