FERN tells great stories. Stories with bite. Stories with drama. Stories that make a difference. We dig deeply into the facts about our food and into what industry and government are doing to agriculture and the environment.

But reading an article in a magazine or online isn’t the only way to get that depth and perspective. In November 2014, our sold-out Brooklyn event, FERN Talks & Eats, combined storytelling, performance, and food prepared by top chefs. It was a huge success and offered a multisensory experience of our work.

FERN Talks & Eats opens our stories to new audiences and fosters an intimacy that is hard to replicate on the page. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

Watch the 2014 Highlights

FERN Talks & Eats Explained

Sam Fromartz

Editor-in-chief, FERN and Author, In Search of the Perfect Loaf

FERN’s Editor-in-Chief Sam Fromartz provides the welcome to our event and a brief explanation of what it’s all about. Fromartz is also the author of the award-winning book In Search of the Perfect Loaf: A Home Baker’s Odyssey (September 2014, Viking). He is a veteran journalist focused on the intersection of the environment, food, and sustainable business.

Bread Basket of Freshly Baked Breads​: Rye Ciabatta, Spelt Ciabatta, Buckwheat Baguette​ offered with an assortment of Organic Valley Pasture butter and Grassmilk cheddar, housemade ​ricotta and smoked bluefish spread by Chef Peter Endriss, Runner and Stone

Watch a full-length version of Sam Fromartz’s comments.


Dan Barber – “A Conversation”

Chef and Author, The Third Plate

Dan Barber, co-owner and executive chef of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, sits down with FERN Editor-in-Chief Sam Fromartz to talk bread. Not just bread, but the vanishing diversity of bread flours used by chefs and farmers, who once relied on ancient varieties like rye and farro to nourish their loaves and their soil. Barber is the author of the book, The Third Plate (May 2014, The Penguin Press). He has received multiple James Beard awards including Best Chef: New York City (2006) and the country’s Outstanding Chef (2009). In 2009, he was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.

Eat the Whole Farm: Farro Cracker with Fall Vegetables and Herbs, by Franny Stephens and Jonathan Adler of Franny’s

Watch a full-length version of Dan Barber’s performance.

Lisa Hamilton – “Fresh Rice”

Writer and Photographer

Writer and photographer Lisa M. Hamilton sends a hush over the room as she tells the story of Hmong gardeners caught between diaspora in their mother country and drought in Fresno, California. Hamilton won a James Beard Foundation Award for her story with FERN and Harper’s on quinoa in Bolivia. She is the author of Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness (Counterpoint, 2010). Her work has also been published in Harper’s, The Atlantic, McSweeney’s, Orion, and Gastronomica.

Arroz Con Leche by Chef Seamus Mullen of Tertulia

Watch a full-length version of Lisa M. Hamilton’s performance.

Maryn McKenna – “Meeting Your Dinner”

Journalist and Author

Maryn McKenna transports listeners to a poultry kill floor in rural Georgia, where she examines her own relationship with meat at one of the country’s most progressive ranches. Known for her coverage of antibiotic resistance, McKenna was the recipient of the 2013 Byron H. Waksman Award for Excellence in the Public Communication of Life Sciences, and was a finalist for a James Beard Foundation Media Award for her article written with FERN on “the post-antibiotic future.” McKenna is a blogger for National Geographic’s The Plate, a columnist and contributing editor for Scientific American and the author of SUPERBUG: The Fatal Menace of MRSA (Free Press/Simon & Schuster 2010).

Coq au Vin with Celery Root Puree and Braised Greens by Chef Jason Weiner of Almond

Watch a full-length version of Maryn McKenna’s performance.

Tracie McMillan – “The Secret World of Garlic”


After going undercover in the garlic fields of California, Tracie McMillan tells the audience of the families she met, as they labored to fill 5 gallon buckets for $1.60 each. McMillan is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table. In 2012, Whole Living magazine named her a “Food Visionary,” and she won a James Beard Journalism Award for her feature on farm labor produced with FERN and published by The American Prospect. She has written about food and class for a variety of publications, including The New York Times, the Washington Post, O, The Oprah Magazine, Harper’s Magazine, Saveur, and Slate.

Garlic Soup and Garlic Grissini by Mary Cleaver of Cleaver Co.

Watch a full-length version of Tracie McMillan’s performance.

Michelle Nijhuis – “Murder in the Ozarks”


In this true crime story, Michelle Nijhuis tells the strange tale of sturgeon poachers stealing caviar eggs from the Ozarks and the authorities determined to stop them from destroying a species. A self-described “lapsed biologist,” Nijhuis is a longtime contributing editor of High Country News and a contributing writer for Smithsonian. Her work has also appeared in National Geographic, The Atlantic, The New York Times, Slate, OnEarth, Nature, Audubon, Orion, Parade, and The Christian Science Monitor, and her commentaries have aired on NPR’s All Things Considered. She has won several national journalism honors.

Snapper Crudo with Paddlefish Roe by Chef Richard Kuo of Pearl & Ash

Watch a full-length version of Michelle Nijhuis’s performance.

FERN Talks & Eats 2013
Haven’s Kitchen, New York, NY
“Salt, Sugar, Fat”

Michael Moss


Michael Moss
Michael Moss is author of Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us and has been a reporter with the investigations group since joining The New York Times in 2000. Before coming to The Times, Mr. Moss was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction, Colo., and the High Country News in Lander, Wyo. He was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for his reporting on the lack of protective armor for soldiers in Iraq, and in 1999 for a team effort on Wall Street’s emerging influence in the nursing home industry.
Ruth Reichl


Ruth Reichl

Ruth Reichl is author of Delicious!: A Novel, Editorial Advisor to Gilt Taste and Editor-at-Large at Random House. From 1999 to 2009 she was Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet magazine. She began her career as restaurant critic for New West and California magazines and went on to be the restaurant critic and food editor of the Los Angeles Times. From 1993-1999 she served as restaurant critic for The New York Times. She has authored four memoirs, Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me with Apples, Garlic and Sapphires, and For You, Mom, Finally.

Watch a full-length version of Michael and Ruth’s performance.

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