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The Way We Work Now

‘You’re working on all these plants and you’re the only person who’s appreciating it’

The Way We Work Now is a series chronicling how people’s lives and careers have fundamentally changed because of the pandemic.

Jacob Nguyen, 27, is a horticulturist for an interior landscaping company in the New York City area. He spoke with Mai Tran about tending to the indoor plants left behind in empty office buildings after employees moved to fully remote work.

I was doing plant care for about a year before the pandemic. Normally, I have a list of sites and offices I go to that are all located in one part of the city. I would check in…


Freakonomics Radio

The banana used to be a luxury good. Now it’s the most popular fruit in the U.S. and elsewhere. But the production efficiencies that made it so cheap have also made it vulnerable to a deadly fungus that may wipe out the one variety most of us eat. Scientists do have a way to save it — but will Big Banana let them?

Picture yourself in a grocery store: You see piles and piles of apples, all different varieties. About 95% of apples eaten in the U.S. are grown in the U.S.; the imports usually just plug a hole at the end of the growing season.

Now check out the pile of bananas. The first thing you notice is there’s usually just the one variety, the Cavendish. Every one of them has been grown, picked, washed, and boxed in another country and then shipped, still green, in a temperature-controlled environment. At their destination, they’re put in special ripening rooms that provide, among other…

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