Watching Jiang Wannian and Ping Cuixiang harvest a sixth of an acre of daikon seed in the north-central province of Gansu feels a little like traveling back in time.
In a dry valley ringed by dusky mountains, on a brick-paved lot, Jiang drives a rusted tractor over a hip-deep mound of dried plants. As they crush down, Ping, Jiang’s wife, plunges a homemade pitchfork into the straw and arranges it for another pass. Eventually Jiang and Ping work side by side, wiry figures with tawny skin. It’s hot, but they are swaddled in clothes to protect themselves from the dust and the sun. They have handsome faces, taut and lined from years of laboring outdoors, and they turn them skyward as they throw fine chaff up and watch ruddy seed rain down. This rhythm continues for hours. In a singsong voice Ping encourages the wind, murmuring, “Blow, blow!” Machines can do this work in minutes, but they are too expensive for Jiang and Ping. Instead they still thresh the daikon by hand, just as farmers did centuries ago. Continue reading “How China Plans to Feed 1.4 Billion Growing Appetites”
In 2010, I took a job at a New York City Applebee’s. I said I was considering culinary school and wanted to get some experience in a real kitchen, but I was actually there to write about the experience for a book. I had grand plans to take a genre steeped in machismo and tell a woman’s story instead.
Since 2001, I have produced award winning work, receiving recognition from the Sidney Hillman Foundation, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the James Beard Foundation, the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists, the Harry Chapin Media Award, the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, the Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism, and more.
Several years ago, during a harsh Detroit winter, I swallowed my pride and applied for food stamps. I wasn’t sure I’d qualify, but I knew three things. I had little money in the bank, little chance of quickly earning more and I needed to eat. So I tried my luck with the government. Continue reading “Who Do We Think Of as Poor?”
It was a huge honor to be included on a panel on undercover reporting last week at the Center for Investigative Reporting’s annual Logan Symposium on Investigative Reporting. Post-panel, I had a lot of (strong!) thoughts about race and gender when it comes to that kind of work, which I shared on Twitter — and posted on-site, too.
It was a real honor to share the stage with Ailsa Chang (“Planet Money”), Suki Kim (Without You, There is No Us), Shane Bauer (Mother Jones), and James Jones (Frontline) to discuss the complexities of undercover reporting at the Logan Symposium on Investigative Reporting hosted by the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley.
I had a fascinating conversation this morning with radio host Solomon Jones in Philadelphia, taking my first (public) stab at explaining white resentment to a predominantly black audience. Check out his show, Wake Up With Wurd.