Selected Writings


California’s Underwater Forests Are Being Eaten by the ‘Cockroaches of the Ocean’

in The New York Times

Early on a gray summer Saturday, an unusual assemblage — commercial fishermen, recreational boaters, neoprene-clad divers — gathered for a mission at Albion Cove, a three-hour drive north of San Francisco.

“Our target today is the purple urchin,” said Josh Russo, a recreational fishing advocate who organized the event. “The evil purple urchin.”

Green Washed: Why We Can’t Buy Our Way to a Green Planet (Book)

For those of us who believe that by buying an organic cotton shirt, or cage-free eggs, or a Toyota Prius (or Chevy Volt for that matter), we’re doing our small part to save the planet, Kendra Pierre-Louis offers a blunt rejoinder in Green Washed.

— Planetizen


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This is what America looked like before the EPA cleaned it up

In Popular Science (Part of a four part series).

In 1970, Republican President Richard Nixon signed an executive order creating the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It was a time when pollution made many of our nation's rivers and streams unsafe for fishing or swimming. Back then, New York City's air pollution was so thick that you often couldn't see the city's iconic bridges. Forty-seven years later, there is serious talk of dismantling the agency, or at least slashing its size by two-thirds.

But what does America look like without the EPA?

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Mayo is disgusting and science agrees

in Popular Science

For much of the past year, I have fought a one-sided battle with a popular fast casual restaurant chain that we’ll call “Ready.” Unlike most restaurants, Ready doesn't make sandwiches, assemble salads, or otherwise perform acts of cookery upon customer request. Instead they sell nominally healthy, whole-ingredient-based pre-made soups, salads, and sandwiches. Because I’m lazy and impatient, I’m Ready’s perfect customer and not just because Ready has a location in Popular Sciences’ building. They also have another four locations (including one that sells beer) along my commute. So you'd think that Ready sandwiches would be a regular part of my nutritional rotation. But they aren't, because Ready’s sandwiches are disgusting.


As Winter Warms, Bears Can’t Sleep. And They’re Getting Into Trouble.

in The New York Times

As climate change leads to warmer winters, later falls and earlier springs — which can disrupt both food supplies and biological rhythms — American black bears are changing their hibernation routines, scientists say. In some cases, bears are not hibernating at all, staying awake all winter. In others, bears are waking from their slumber too early.


Texture is the final frontier of food science

in Popular Science

The list of foods that I refuse to eat is extensive: tofu, okra, stirred yogurt (yes, it's the stirring that gets me), and mashed potatoes, to name a few. Condiments are prominently featured: mayonnaise, butter, cream sauces, and ranch dressings are big no-nos.

Friends call me picky, but that word feels inadequate—it evokes a realm of virulent food neophobes who subsist on a steady diet of pale, bland consumables and balk at the notion of trying anything new.

I, however, embrace culinary novelties: glass potato chips, grilled whale, musk ox in yellow curry sauce. I’ve eaten harkl, the Icelandic delicacy where a poisonous Greenlandic shark is left to rot, then fermented for an extra kick. The chef Anthony Bourdain described harkl, whose redolent bouquet is not dissimilar from the acrid sensation of huffing a bottle of nail polish remover, as “the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing.” Trash-talking chef Gordon Ramsey allegedly threw up after eating it. But I’d rather subsist on a steady diet of harkl than eat anything covered in hollandaise sauce.

My issue with the aforementioned foods isn’t their taste—it’s their texture. Compared to our rich vocabulary for foods’ flavor, America’s culinary glossary for food tactility is thin. A lemon, for example, might be described as acidic, tangy, citrusy, or sour—but how does that lemon feel?

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