The Politics of Food: Seal Meat
Seal hunting in Canada has been a controversial issue for decades. Animal rights groups want it outlawed, while native populations fight to preserve the tradition. In 2010, the European Union banned seal products, but in recent years the culinary world has taken an interest in the sustainable harvest of wild seal meat. To learn more, we sent writer Adam Leith Gollner on a journey to seek out the key players involved in the debate. Gollner traveled to Newfoundland to speak to Canadian chefs who believe seal meat is a crucial part of their country's culinary identity. He met with activists who consider killing seals to be a cruel, antiquated tradition. Gollner also spoke to locals who claim that animal rights groups have ulterior motives for interfering with seal hunting.
Watch The Politics of Food: Seal Meat, coming soon to Munchies.
Steel Salvaging in the Bay of Bengal
When large international cargo carriers retire, they're sent to the Bay of Bengal to be salvaged in the Bangladeshi city of Chittagong. The industry is a vital part of Bangladesh's urbanization, employing 200,000 workers and supplying the country with 80 percent of its steel. Ship-breakers dismantle the massive vessels wearing flip-flops and T-shirts, exposing themselves to lead and asbestos on a daily basis. In 2013, 20 deaths were reported, though the numbers are actually much higher. International criticism has escalated, and the powerful families who run the industry do everything they can to keep it from scrutiny. Muhammed Ali Shahin, from the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, said the practice will never stop. "It's a good place for people who don't care about the environment, who don't care if a human dies."
Watch the documentary, part of our VICE Reports series, this month.
Robot vs. IED
The Hurt Locker got it only partly right. Just ask Brian Castner, a former bomb technician with the US military. He served three tours in the Middle East, two of which were spent leading an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit, and deployed small remote-controlled robots to battle a blitz of insurgent-rigged car bombs and improvised explosive devices in and around Kirkuk, Iraq, in 2006. "In the Iraq War, each side sent its champion into battle," Castner said. "Their champion was the IED. Our champion was the robot." Castner and his crew grew so reliant on these machines, which can disarm explosives from afar, that they considered them part of the team. Years later, does he still feel an attachment to the machines? We met Castner to find out.
Watch Inhuman Kind, now playing on Motherboard.
California has a long history of drought, and 2014 marked the third-driest year since the state began keeping records, in 1877. With the total economic cost of the 2014 drought at $2.2 billion, and hundreds of thousands of acres going fallow, the future for California's farming industry, its workers, and the surrounding communities is looking bleak. A report released in July 2014 stated that the drought could lead to a total loss of 17,100 seasonal, part-time, and full-time jobs in 2014 and 2015. One of the cities most affected by the drought is Mendota, with more than 80 percent of its population relying on agricultural jobs. Up to half of the nation's fruit, nuts, and vegetables are grown in this area. We traveled to Mendota to see firsthand how the drought is impacting the city's farmers.
Watch the documentary, part of our new California Soul series.
5. NEW YORK
The Monumental Comeback of Judge
In 1991, at the height of its popularity, the New York hardcore band Judge broke up, leaving a long and storied career of incredible music and hyper-violent gigs for the history books. The band's caustic mix of straight-edge hardcore and metal connected with fans on a profound level. In the decades that followed, Judge's meager output became hardcore punk 101 for much of the growing scene, which built upon their metal-tinged riffs and attitude. While the legend grew, lead singer Mike Ferraro virtually disappeared, only to reemerge in 2013 at Webster Hall to headline one of the most respected hardcore punk festivals in the country, Black N' Blue Bowl. Where did the revered front man go and why did he vanish from the public eye? We found Ferraro and talked to him about his monumental comeback.
Watch the documentary this month on Noisey.