2014 Fellows & Editors


Below are short biographies of the 2014 Food Fellows. We will add links to stories funded by the fellowship once they are published.

Sierra Crane-Murdoch, Hood River, Oregon @SierraMurdoch

Sierra Crane-Murdoch, a freelance journalist, is at work on her first book for Spiegel & Grau / Random House. She is a former contributing editor at High Country News, where she wrote about health, culture, crime, and politics in rural and Native American communities. She has also written for VQR, The New Yorker online, VICE, and The Atlantic. Sierra’s fellowship story on land ownership on Native American reservations, “Can a legal victory make Indian Country whole again?” was published by High Country News in April, 2016. An essay on the same topic, “Blessed Inheritance,” appeared in the July & August/ September & October 2016 double issue of Orion.  Some of her fellowship reporting went into a book proposal about oil extraction on reservations, which she sold to Spiegel & Grau / Random House and is currently writing.

David Ferry, London, England  @ferryin140

David is a freelance reporter in the Bay Area. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, Wired and This American Life, among other outlets. He is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

David’s story “The Promises and Perils of Synthetic Biology” appeared in Newsweek in March 2015.

Daniel Fromson, Brooklyn, New York @dfroms

Dan is a staff editor at The New York Times Magazine and the author of Finding Shakespeare, published by The Atavist Magazine. A former editor at The New Yorker and The Atlantic, where he edited the website’s food coverage, he has also written for The Times, Harper’s, The Washington Post, Washington City Paper, and Slate.

Dan’s story, “The Silicon Valley Race to Build a Fake-Meat Burger That Just Might Save the World” appeared in the June 2015 issue of New York Magazine.

Ferris Jabr, Portland, Oregon @ferrisjabr

Ferris is a contributing writer at Scientific American and a freelance journalist. He has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker.com, Outside, Wired, Popular Mechanics, MinuteEarth, The Awl, Nautilus and NOVA Next. Some of his work has been anthologized in The Best American Science and Nature Writing series.

Ferris’s story “Reinventing the Potato” appeared in Modern Farmer. His story “Fruits and Vegetables Are About to Enter a Flavor Renaissance” can be found at Pacific Standard.

Rebecca Kanthor, Shanghai, China, @RebeccaKanthor

Rebecca is a print and radio journalist. Her stories have appeared on PRI’s The World, BBC, and CBC and in Scientific American and Nature. She also reports on the Chinese plastics industry as Shanghai Correspondent for Plastics News. Rebecca worked on a series of food related stories from China for her fellowship. Her story on China’s burgeoning craft brewing industry aired on PRI’s The World on November 18, 2014.  Her story on China’s taste for imported luxury fruit aired on PRI’s The World on February 18, 2015. Her story on American apples coming to China aired on KCRW’s Good Food on November 6, 2015.

Casey Miner, Oakland, California @reedminer

Casey Miner is an independent public radio producer. Most recently she was senior editor for the award-winning news, arts, and culture program Crosscurrents on KALW 91.7 FM in San Francisco; she’s also contributed work to NPR, KQED, Marketplace, Mother Jones, The Takeaway, and Transportation Nation. She holds a Master’s degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and she has the distinction of having profiled the Bay Area’s only kayak commuter.

Casey’s story, “How LA’s Wild Quinoa Can Help Fight Global Food Shortages” aired on KQED’s the California Report

Erica Mu, Los Angeles, California @whatsnewwithmu

Erica is an independent public radio producer and freelance journalist based in Los Angeles. Mu’s work covers a broad range of topics across a variety of formats, including magazine features, long-form documentaries, and digital shorts. Before moving to LA, Mu led the Bay Area-based transmedia project Hear Here, one of 10 projects tasked with innovating around interactive journalism. Mu has also reported and produced for San Francisco NPR station KALW.

Erica’s story “Cheap produce and $60,000 bottles of cognac” aired on Marketplace on September 10, 2014.

Erica’s story “For California’s Hmong farmers, options are drying up” aired on KQED’s The California Report on December 6, 2014.

She has additional radio stories forthcoming.

Peter Andrey Smith, Brooklyn, New York, @petersm_th

Smith is a reporter who had covered food, science and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, and The Walrus and online at The New Yorker, Smithsonian and Buzzfeed. Peter’s fellowship story, “Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Explain Your Mood?” was published in the New York Times Magazine on June 23, 2015.


Jack Hitt is the author of a new book, Bunch of Amateurs: A Search for the American Character. Most days, he’s a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine. He occasionally contributes to the public radio program, This American Life. His book, Off the Road: A Modern-Day Walk Down the Pilgrim’s Route into Spain, was made into a motion picture, “The Way,” directed by Emilio Estévez and starring Martin Sheen. His work has won the Peabody, Livingston and Pope Awards. His Harper’s report on American anthropology was selected for a collection of the best science writing of the past 25 years, The Best of the Best of American Science Writing. His work also appears in Harper’s, Rolling Stone andWired. He is currently touring a one-man show, “Making Up the Truth”–a series of his slightly incredible real-life stories woven in with the contemporary brain science that nearly answers the question, “Is any of this true?”

Alex Blumberg is an award-winning radio journalist. He was a producer for This American Life and the co-founder of Planet Money. This year he started Gimlet Media, a podcasting business. He is documenting the startup process in a new podcast at hearstartup.com

Paul Tough is the author, most recently, of How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, a New York Times best-seller. His first book, Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America, was published in 2008. Paul is a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine, where he has written extensively about education, parenting, poverty, and politics.His writing has also appeared in the New Yorker, Slate, GQ, Esquire, and Geist, and on the op-ed page of the New York Times. He has worked as an editor at the New York Times Magazine and Harper’s Magazine and as a reporter and producer for the public-radio program “This American Life.” He was the founding editor of Open Letters, an online magazine.

Davia Nelson is a radio producer, and along with Nikki Silva, the founder of The Kitchen Sisters, producers of the duPont-Columbia Award-winning NPR series Hidden Kitchens, the two Peabody Award-winning NPR series,Lost & Found Sound and The Sonic Memorial Project and most recently, The Hidden World of Girls, a series on NPR that explored the lives of girls and the women they become. Their current project is The Making Of…, a production with KQED and AIR.


Michael Pollan is the author of seven books, including Cooked, Food Rules, In Defense of Food, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and The Botany of Desire, all New York Times bestsellers. A longtime contributor to the New York Times Magazine, he is also the Knight Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley. In 2010, Time Magazine named Michael one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Malia Wollan is a contributing writer for the New York Times. Her work appears in The New York Times Magazine, Fast Company, The Wall Street JournalHarper’s, National Public Radio, New York Magazine, the Associated Press, PBS’s Frontline/World and elsewhere. She is a lecturer at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and an editor at Meatpaper magazine.