Climate change often seems like a big, slow-moving monster that haunts other people’s lives in other locations, but the powerful natural disasters associated with climate change can be felt from thousands of miles away right here in St Louis.
Members of the Sierra Club spoke with St. Louis area restaurateurs who have roots in communities that have been hit by natural disasters. The Sierra Club Climate Change Culinary Tour gave participants plenty to chew on, both literally and figuratively, as they partook in carefully crafted cuisine and learned about the cultures and communities that inspire each venue.
In South County, the culinary treat was at Feraro’s Pizza, 11726 Baptist Church Rd, Sappington. The proprietor is Jonathan Feraro, who has a lot to say about growing up on the Jersey Shore and the impact of Hurricane Sandy on his hometown area. Feraro worries that climate change will bring more intense hurricanes to the area, as warming oceans seem to be intensifying these massive storms.
Feraro grew up exploring the Jersey shore. The South County pizza shop that bears his name was inspired by the huge slices of ‘za young Feraro would eat along the boardwalk as a kid. Five years ago Sunday, October 31, the sites of some of the pizza maker’s most cherished memories were swept away by Hurricane Sandy.
To understand Feraro’s intense feelings about the storm and climate change, you can link to the piece that Jonathan Feraro wrote reflecting on the 5-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. Check it out HERE.
Here’s a little additional background drawn from talking to Feraro and reading his writing:
Growing up along the Jersey shore literally taught Feraro how to hustle and run a small business, skills he used to start this very pizza shop
As a young man, before getting into the pizza business, Feraro worked to clean up the waters off the Jersey coast. Seeing the difference he was able to make, gave the young entrepreneur hope and confidence, feelings he wants to live on through his family.
“I want nothing more than for my nephews to be able to experience the same love that I have for the ocean,” noted Feraro. Sierra Club members appreciated his observations.
After filling up on pizza, Sierra club members traveled into the city, enjoying the cajun cuisine at Sister Cities Cajun restaurant, which is co-owned by Travis Parfait, who grew up south of New Orleans and has seen his share of tropical storms. His hometown and the areas around it still aren’t the same following Katrina.
Finally, the group enjoyed homemade Puerto Rican mofongo at La Mancha coffeehouse in Old North St Louis. Veronica Holden, who runs the shop, still hasn’t heard from two of her cousins who live in the interior of the island six weeks after Hurricane Maria made landfall.
Rachel Speed was among the Sierra Club members making the Sierra Club Climate Change Culinary Tour.
Speed is a former social worker who was called out of retirement to act as a supervisor for FEMA crisis counselors following the New Years flood in 2016. She worked with victims of this spring’s flooding as well. Her experience helps Sierra Club members relate the hardships faced by disaster victims, from those in Sandy to the struggles in neighborhoods right here in a flooded Meramec River watershed.
While coastal disasters may get the national headlines, the effects of climate change can be felt right here in the Midwest, whether they accuse from intense heat, droughts or flooding disasters.