Survival of the fittest paid off for the species best at adaptation – the ones who could make a way of life that fit their environment.
In our lives, for our survival, one thing has become more and more essential in our environment: money.
Charles Darwin, the evolution guy, could relate to the relentless logic of today’s monetized world: the rich get richer and the poor die faster. But, I’ll bet he’d be surprised at how defining wealth has become, from the top to the bottom of our society.
In a monetized society, owning something is an advantage, but the dominant species get rich by selling something. And, be it a service or a product, the more you sell, the richer you get. Eventually, the top sellers get to buy up a lot of what mere owners once possessed.
In our marketplace world, sales revenues turn on only one quality: desirability, the “need to have” trigger something sets off in people who can afford it.
Which explains why the fastest-growing service, as measured by its share of our monetized economy, is marketing: making more people want to buy more goods and services their clients have on offer.
Real quality is a quality rarely introduced into a marketing conversation, unless it’s assumed the customer has enough money to afford it.
All of these aspects of the monetization of our culture are readily apparent in the food we eat.
It’s no accident of history that the classification of food, and the attachment of status to its consumption, rises, like monetization from the Industrial Revolution. It was in 1826 when the French philosopher of cuisine, Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote: “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” He was, of course, addressing that small group of people who read books and cultivated “taste, and could afford to invest in ingredients and chefs.”
Our guest today, Kevin D. Walker, has written a new, and very interesting book, The Grand Food Bargain and The Mindless Drive for More, which applies Brillat-Savarin’s witticism about 19th century foodies on a national, if not global scale. In America, “We are what we eat,” is sold to us as something to celebrate, but Walker argues, it’s actually very bad news.
Kevin D. Walker grew up on a family farm and has seen the agriculture industry from many angles. He has worked in the industry and at the US Department of Agriculture and overseas for several international non-profits. He has also been a professor at Michigan State University. The Grand Food Bargain, and the Mindless Drive for More is his first book.