This is not just food, this is adjective food. Why does everything now have to have an extra adjective? I have just finished eating a bag of cheese and onion crisps. But that won’t do. They are Hand Cooked Somerset Cheddar and Red Onion crisps. How am I meant to taste the difference? In what way are they “hand cooked”? I hardly think there’s a bloke stirring a great big frying pan and plucking them out when they’re ready. I almost know what they are getting at, these are crisps designed to be like Kettle Chips, thicker cut and fried a fraction longer than the leading brand. But Somerset Cheddar? Really. If I was buying a hunk of cheese I might be interested in where it came from, but by the time it has been turned into a powder that can be used to dust over crisps I doubt very much that anybody could tell the difference between one kind of cheddar cheese and another. In fact they would be doing well to taste the difference between a Cheddar and a Brie. I could tell the difference between onion and garlic but I am pretty sure that nobody in a blind taste test could reliably tell the difference between crisps flavoured with red onions, white onions and Normandy shallots hand harvested by blonde virgins.
In some ways adjective food is a good idea. It encourages people to spend a little more rather than get everything as cheap as possible. You can see what the advantages of spending a little more are. I shop at a huge variety of different shops and supermarkets from Aldi to Waitrose and you can definitely tell which shop you’re in by looking at the customers. In Waitrose I feel that at six foot two inches tall I am quite normal. In Aldi and Lidl the average height of customers is almost a foot shorter. In Tesco I am regularly asked to help reach stuff on the top shelf, in Waitrose this doesn’t happen, for one thing, there are no short women in Waitrose and for another if they are looking for a tall young man to help them reach something they’ll probably see a lad of six foot six, who’s fourteen. In Aldi the customers are reaching up to put their tinned spaghetti shapes onto the conveyor belt at the till. At Farmfoods and Iceland they check the freezers each night to see if any of the hobbit women have fallen in while reaching for the bargain mechanically recovered chicken, rusk and lard sausages.
Maybe that is a slight exaggeration but not by much. Go and have a look at a Waitrose and see who shops there, how tall they are, how fit and healthy they are. How rich they are. And how well-behaved their children are. “Can I have these Amoretti biscuits mummy, they’re really tasty.” They speak in sentences, not grunts.
When people buy everything as cheaply as possible things suffer. Health. Well-being. The local economy. The world economy. Places where people appreciate and pay for quality export wealth. Places where everything has to be as cheap as possible are sinks for value and values. There is a joke about an ocean liner which sinks marooning a party of antiques dealers on a desert island. After a year they are rescued and all have made a modest profit. The opposite phenomenon is visible across the north of England where markets are filled with garish tat and the High Streets are filled with Pound shops. In the race for the bottom, everybody loses. Places where everything is as cheap as it can possibly be quickly become filthy derelict holes, like Pakistan, low prices feed low rents and low wages. Prosperity demands a combination of appreciating quality and being prepared to pay for it combined with the ability to know when you are being taken for a mug and a refusal to pay a premium price for an ordinary product. If any society concentrates too much on one aspect and not enough on the other there will be trouble. On the whole, I suppose I’d rather be taking the piss out of adjective food than living in a place where everything is cheap and nasty, especially the people.