Nation of Beancounters

Inequality leads to better cuisine

Posted in Uncategorized by Navin Kumar on April 16, 2011

From Tyler Cowen’s Discover Your Inner Economist:

For those looking to take a food vacation, I have a recommendation. Choose a country with a great deal of inequality. It sounds heartless, but look for a big gap between the rich and the poor. Iron bars on the windows and barbed wire on the fences, however bad for the residents or for your safety, are both good signs for the food.

The presence of a wealthy class of people, all other things equal, is good for food because the wealthy are a strong market for a tasty meal. That encourages quality food.

But when we look at producers, a certain amount of poverty is, sad to say, likely to produce gourmet meals. The higher the level of wages at the bottom, the harder it is to employ labor to cook the food, prepare the raw ingredients, and serve and bus the tables. So the committed foodie should look to regions where some people are very rich and others are very poor. The poor people will end up cooking for the rich people. My meals in Mexico, India, and Brazil are typically delicious and cheap.

File under “is this poverty or inequality we’re talking about?”

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