FERN’s Friday Feed: Where’s all the bucatini? Apkmusk

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

The great bucatini shortage of 2020

New York Magazine

“I felt more determined than ever to solve this mystery,” writes Rachel Handler, “not just for myself but for the cast of Saturday Night Live and also the rest of the people of the United States of America, who had been through too much for too long to then have insult added to injury via the spontaneous and inexplicable disappearance of the best noodle.”

The pandemic parasites

The New Republic

While the pandemic wreaks economic havoc, “some companies have thrived amid this catastrophe—indeed, thrived because of it,” writes Jacob Silverman. “Instacart, the grocery delivery service, is booming, with sales up 500 percent year-over-year and the company cruising to a $17.7 billion valuation. Their workforce—of mostly low-paid contract workers—has swelled to 500,000 people while the company has taken in $500 million in investment since March. And yet, somehow, Instacart is also losing unimaginable sums of money.”

Why people eat black-eyed peas for luck on New Year’s

Garden & Gun 

“This superstition has its strongest hold on people with some connection to the South, whether by birth, bloodlines, or current residency,” writes Adrian Miller. “For people who don’t fall into one of those categories, and even for many who do, the tradition is a bit of a head-scratcher. I know that I’m supposed to do it, but I’m not sure why. I’m here to provide answers, and those answers come from a layered culinary and cultural mashup of West Africa and Western Europe.”

‘How I became a cook at fire camp’

The Atlantic

“Cooking is work I can always find and do with some pride,” writes Jeff Winkler. “I feel most secure in kitchens: half-immigrant, mostly poor, nearly all of us in the weeds and trying our best to jerry-rig both self-preservation and collective responsibility regardless of criminal records, credit scores, and/or self-medicated health issues. These are the most essential components of being an ‘essential worker’ in America today. The category stretches beyond traditional kitchens. There are the fast-food employees, the packaging-plant workers, the auto-managed delivery drivers—all doing part-time labor or gig work, always getting less and needing more.”

Trump’s H-2A wage freeze puts Biden in a tough spot

The Center for Public Integrity

Workers in the H-2A visa program toil in excessive heat, live in unsafe housing and expose themselves to a deadly virus. Now, as Susan Ferriss writes, they face a new challenge: “a wage freeze, put in place by President Donald Trump’s Department of Labor. Advocates want President-elect Joe Biden to undo the freeze, but the process could take months.” And even “if Biden or a pending court challenge block Trump’s wage freeze … growers will push the White House to find another way to slow pay increases.”



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