The French Fry Connection
I was intrigued by the decision to use the import and export of french fries as a way to look at the Asian economic crisis and its effects on the United States. Read did a nice job of tracking the movement of the potatoes from the farm to the McDonalds outlets. This setup emphasized the tie between the Hutterite farmers and food consumers across the globe. Read emphasized this connection again at the end of the piece, when he talked about the losses that both sides suffered after the economic collapse. At first it seemed that the Hutterites took a harder hit, losing houses while middle class Indonesians lost the ability to eat McDonalds once a week. By the last paragraph, though, it becomes clear that people in Indonesia have also lost homes and jobs. I could see the reciprocal effects of the global economy on both of these places.
I had a couple of problems with the narration style. I know this is a series and that some background information is necessary at the start of each piece, but I thought Read got a little too repetitive sometimes. I also wanted him to give me his sources. I felt like he kind of departed from real journalism when he narrated some of the scenes that I would assume he did not experience (the boat having mechanical problems, the sailor baring his teeth as he addressed them). Maybe he was there, and if so, he should make it clearer. Finally, I got stuck on some of the economics, but I can't tell if Read did a bad job of explaining it or if I am just so bad at understanding that kind of thing that I couldn't process his information.