[extropy-chat] evolution of food

Adrian Tymes wingcat at pacbell.net
Wed Aug 18 18:35:20 UTC 2004

--- Bryan Moss <bryan.moss at dsl.pipex.com> wrote:
> I think also that it's primarily the fact that
> McDonalds et al can't 
> reach the larger, more health-conscious,
> middle-class demographic now 
> that causes them to take the strategy of foisting
> large portions of food 
> on the unfortunate demographic they can reach (i.e.,
> the poor and people 
> in a hurry).  As fast food is able to serve more of
> the population 
> (i.e., relatively wealthy return customers), the
> incentives to tailor 
> food toward addiction and inadequancy of fulfilment
> drop off.

I don't particularly see that McDonalds et al tailors
their food this way - any more than food was already
addictive.  (We need to eat to live, so we are wired
to think of eating as a good thing.)  As I see it,
it's more a matter of economics and what happens to
have been developed.

The current crop of fast food is cheap to make in
bulk.  That will likely remain a requisite for any
mass-marketed food.  Healthier food is more expensive
to produce.  The math leads to today's result.  But
it's also the case that healthier foods are being
produced in greater quantities (a number of fast food
places offer salads, for example), which drives their
costs down in addition to research into how to produce
them cheaper.  (The various steps used today to
squeeze every dollar out of a hamburger were not
thought up overnight.)

I'm looking forwards to the day when yeast, algae, or
similar edible substances can be grown, flavored, and
textured on the spot in any restuarant-sized kitchen,
which should remove a lot of the infrastructure cost,
especially if flavors and vitamins can likewise be
produced in vats in the kitchen.  This could also have
a significant liberalizing effect: if a city is placed
under seige by those who would use force to get their
way, or resupply is threatened by corporate interests
that have little to do with feeding the people, the
restaurants can thumb their noses at these would-be
masters and keep operating.  (This would be more
useful where the rule of law breaks down, since the
law could repossess the restaurant if the law's still

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