April 02, 2021
Best of the States
All-formats reporting from a Michigan potato farm reveals how climate change threatens crop storage
After reporting for years on life-or-death results of global warming such as floods and wildfires, Traverse City, Michigan, correspondent John Flesher uncovered another serious but little-recognized consequence: Climate change poses an increasingly troublesome and costly threat to food crop storage in the United States and much of the world.
To illustrate the problem, Flesher teamed with Detroit-based video journalist Mike Householder and photographer Carlos Osorio on the farm of a Michigan family now using refrigerators to cool their harvested potatoes. Michigan has been the top U.S. producer of potatoes used for chips, thanks to a mild climate that has — until now at least — let farmers store their crops for months using only outdoor air to cool them. Scientists say those conditions are likely become scarcer as the planet gets hotter.
The team’s exclusive, all-formats package drew strong play nationally.
For relatable coverage that calls attention to an underreported consequence of climate change — one with widespread implications — the team of Flesher, Householder and Osorio wins this week’s Best of the States award.