Monday, July 10, 2006

Why is American Food So Bad?

American food is much better than it used to be. I am very happy that restaurants get better and more interesting every year and the food we make at home is fresher and more varied. However, I'd oddly never really given much thought to why American food was so poor to begin with. Fortunately, Tyler Cowen is around to think about such things and explain them. Here is a draft of a chapter from a book he's writing on food. Fascinating stiff.

He argues that food in America got hammered by prohibition (forced fine dining establishments out of business), immigration restrictions (cut off both the supply and some of the demand for good ethnic food), TV (raised the opportunity cost of cooking and encouraged cultural homogenization), working moms (obvious), and spoiled children (the indulgence of children post WWII included favoring the sweet, bland food kids like), and developments in transportation and food storage (makes processed food more appealing than fresh). It is very well reasoned, although I would love to see more detailed empirical support for his arguments.

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