But the politicization of food goes beyond the fair trade and locally grown fetishes of the politically correct elites, the more politics ends up on your plate, the more the elites are driven to involve everyone else in their food fights. What begins as a way of raising prices while diminishing value to assert wealth and privilege becomes imposed on everyone in the name of their political morality. Once everyone else is paying more and getting less, then the classist left demands new ways to set its superior moral eating habits apart. Instead of everyone ending up with more food, everyone ends up with less.
The cultural ascendance of the left has meant that instead of conspicuous consumption, the consumption has to be disguised with conspicuous political pieties. The food may cost twice as much, but it’s locally grown on a farm run by handicapped union workers who visit Cuba to receive free health care or by the indigenous peoples of Tuba-Tuba with the proceeds going to a complete sonic library of their chants and ceremonies. The entire thing is meaningfully meaningless, but it disguises the consumption in a hairshirt, which is the entire point.
Conspicuous consumption is now for the poor while conspicuous conservation is for liberal elites. Al Gore may live in a mansion but he still has the carbon footprint of a mouse. The problem is the truck driver whose vehicle emissions are killing the planet. Whole Foods is just fine, but we need to do something about McDonald’s.
Conspicuous conservationism has made America a poorer country, destroyed millions of jobs and outsourced them overseas. Now it’s beginning to make America a hungrier country. In a moment of horrifying tone deafness that makes Marie Antoinette seem enlightened, the left is cheering that fewer Americans are eating meat anymore, without seeming to understand that it’s because fewer Americans are able to afford it because of their economic policies.
What the left’s food police can’t accomplish with nudges and shaming, they can finish off with policies and regulations that end up raising the price of food or by making it too difficult to sell. As the left tries and fails to sell the general public on conservation as a status symbol, it moves in the heavy bureaucratic artillery.
It isn’t unusual for elites to use the legal system to enforce their own values on the general public, though it was the kind of thing that the universal franchise was supposed to put a leash on, but there is something grim about their growing preoccupation with the habits and mortality of the population. It’s the kind of concern that has a habit of ending in eugenics and the more medicine is universalized, the easier it is to start cutting off access to medical treatment for those who haven’t been nudged far enough in the right direction.
Social medicine politicizes food consumption and a globalized economy politicizes food production. And the politicized American plate has less on it and at a higher price. While the left obsessively pursues its mission of destroying fast food in the name of lowering social medicine costs and being fairer to farmers, what they are truly accomplishing is to take affordable and filling food off the shelves, as they have done with countless other products that they have targeted.
By the time the left was done with Russia, it had gone from a wheat producer to a wheat importer and many basic food staples were hard to come by even in a country filled with collective farms. Finding modern day examples of that isn’t hard. We only have to look as far south as Venezuela to see empty store shelves under the weight of government food policies. But one day that may be the local grocery store if the left gets its way.
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