Losing the News

The Charleston Gazette-Mail was known as the newspaper that used “sustained outrage” to hold the powerful accountable in West Virginia, a state with a legacy of corruption. Last year, the paper filed for bankruptcy and changed owners; its future as a watchdog remains unclear.

Published: Jul 23, 2019
Length: 25 minutes (6,333 words)

Last Meals

Our relationships between food and death. A history of the last meal:

“In America, where the death rows—like the prisons generally—are largely filled with men from the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder, last-meal requests are dominated by the country’s mass-market comfort foods: fries, soda, fried chicken, pie. Sprinkled in this mix is a lot of what social scientists call ‘status foods’—steak, lobster, shrimp—the kinds of foods that in popular culture conjure up the image of affluence. Every once in a while, though, a request harkens back to what, in the Judeo-Christian West, is the original last meal—the Last Supper, when Jesus Christ, foreseeing his death on the cross, dined one final time with his disciples. Jonathan Wayne Nobles, who was executed in Texas in 1998 for stabbing to death two young women, requested the Eucharist sacrament. Nobles had converted to Catholicism while incarcerated, becoming a lay member of the clergy, and made what was by all accounts a sincere and extended show of remorse while strapped to the gurney. He sang “Silent Night” as the chemicals were released into his veins.”

Published: Sep 19, 2013
Length: 17 minutes (4,397 words)

Pastoral Romance

It’s unlikely that most serious food reformers think America can or should dismantle our industrial food system and return to an agrarian way of life. But the idea that “Food used to be better” so pervades the rhetoric about what ails our modern food system that it is hard not to conclude that rolling back the clock would provide at least some of the answers. The trouble is, it wouldn’t. And even if it would, the prospect of a return to Green Acres just isn’t very appealing to a lot of people who know what life there is really like.

Published: Jun 16, 2011
Length: 14 minutes (3,614 words)