a tale of two coronavirus x food chain stories

So I’m very interested in the different approaches that WaPo vs. BuzzFeed News took with their respective “follow a meal, expose the pandemic’s impact on the food supply chain” stories from last week: WaPo’s was The human cost of a $20 burger during a pandemic and beef supply chain in crisis and BF News’ is The Who Died For Your Dinner? investigation they pubbed on July 4.

For one thing, there’s the choice in the food: WaPo traces the “journey” of an actual burger patty from a fancy DC restaurant, which probably made the story more relatable to a certain audience (AKA the acela crowd with expense accounts); BF News tackled the ribs, pie, and pasta salad anyone could theoretically buy from a real Walmart in Massachusetts. 

WaPo’s story drills down more into the beef, restaurant, and food delivery industries and seems very into the fact that it can draw a straight line from one single burger that was actually ordered to its origins to a pregnant cow in Kansas; BF News’ piece is less literal and focuses on the pandemic conditions surrounding one Washington state packhouse, one Tyson plant, and a Walmart in Massachusetts. 

Ultimately, both do a great job plotting a picture of the human and economic toll that the pandemic is wreaking in just about every corner of the food industry, as well as spotlighting some of the very real deaths that have been involved in the supply chains investigated. But I think BF News wins points for accessibility (How many people are gonna actually feel invested in a burger from Le Dip??), and WaPo maybe loses a point or two for the confusingly sensuous language used. Like I’m not sure I can read “Fat bubbled. Edges crisped. It was going to be delicious” in the same breath as “before the burger was a burger, or a slab of beef, or an animal that mooed, there was a frozen plastic straw of sperm on a sprawling pasture outside of Eureka”?? Are we **supposed** to feel hungry? Probably not right?

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