12 January 2017

Conspicuous Consumption: or Why My Lunch Needs To Cost More Than Your Rent

Conspicuous consumption. Hoo boy, conspicuous consumption.

Of all the things on this planet I can't truly understand, and believe me when I say that the list of those things is legion, conspicuous consumption is easily within the top five. Maybe one day, I'll make a list of those top five things, but for now, you're just getting this one.

For those not in the know, conspicuous consumption is an economic and sociological concept coined by Thorstein Veblen, a Norwegian-American economist and sociologist who was active in the late-19th to the early-20th century whose views and train of thought were seen as a witty yet non-Marxist critique against capitalism.

See, kiddies; you can criticize capitalism without being labeled a commie pinko freak... just read your Veblen.
In his works, he came up with several ideas and concepts, such as invidious consumption (the consumption of goods to inspire envy in others) and conspicuous compassion (the use of charitable donations to increase prestige,) but the one most folk remember is conspicuous consumption; the acquisition of luxury goods and services as a nothing more than a public display of wealth.

Conspicuous consumption is the wealthy Russian oligarch who buys a car with a fur-lined interior and exterior. It is the Wall Street jockey who buys a super-yacht that can hold a crew of twelve and comfortably sleep four times as many guests but never takes it out of port. It is the entire city of Dubai. And you know what? For all the gross opulence and tremendous ego behind it, they don't bother me at all; the car, the boat, or even Dubai.

What really cheeses the fuck outta me is when conspicuous consumption enters the realm of food.

Not that over-priced steak house that you were taken to that one time and not that fifty-thousand gallon bowl of matzo ball soup that hit the news years ago... I mean shit like this!
Behold, the GlamBurger from Honky Tonk restaurant in the United Kingdom; a £1,100 burger (that's a little over $1,340US) that features (among other things) a Kobe beef patty, a hickory-smoked duck egg that is wrapped in gold leaf, matcha mayonnaise, beluga caviar, Canadian lobster, Iranian saffron, and a bun that is also wrapped in gold leaf.

Not enough, you think? Ok, how about this then?
Feast your eyes (and nothing else) on the 24K Pizza from Industry Kitchen in New York City; this $2,000US 'za, which requires an order 48 hours ahead of your visit, features such ingredients as black squid ink pizza dough, Stilton cheese imported from England, foie gras and truffles imported from France, ossetra caviar, and gold leaf and flakes. It also has a complete lack of shame for those who eat it.

Ready for dessert?
Tonight's dessert double feature is the Golden Opulence Sundae and the Frrrozen Haute Chocolate from Serendipity 3 in New York. The Golden Opulence, which will set you back a solid American grand, features Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream with Amedei Chao and Amedei Porcelana chocolate and “dessert caviar” in a fine crystal goblet that you get to keep. The Frrrozen Haute Chocolate features a blend of over 24 different varieties of cocoa and comes with the “World's Most Expensive Truffle” and a golden spoon to eat it with, which you also get to keep, all for the paltry sum of only twenty-five thousand US dollars. Oh, and of course, both desserts are covered in gold leaf and flakes.

What the fuck is it with people eating gold!?

Look, here's my major problem. Unlike buying a car that you need to groom like a dog or a super-yacht made of super-models or a country built off of oil wealth and modern slave labor, those are still luxuries that the whole humanity can live without. On paper, we can ignore those and cast them from our minds... but none of us, neither rich nor poor, can do so when it comes to food. We can't go without it and the terrible fact is that many of us do. In 2015, 13.1 million American children lived in homes where their next meal was not guaranteed. And yet, here's us in the “civilized world” putting atomic element seventy-nine on fucking pizza and ice cream, and paying anywhere from four to five figures for the privilege.

You can argue that food is a source of wealth and you'd be correct, but not in the way I've been railing against. Food is a source of wealth for a country and its people, not just a select few. Food is life. Food is the sustainability of our species. Food is our continued fucking survival. Food is not a means to silently scream “I have more money than you” and to literally shit gold like a Lannister. Never before as the phrase “polish a turd” seemed more apt to me.

And these examples? Burgers and pizza and ice cream? This is not food that should cost you, or anyone, a mortgage payment.

If you have ever partaken in something like this, you are, in fact, a shit person. Fuck the chefs who created it and fuck anyone who allows it to cross their lips! How dare you waste money and valuable food resources on such a sickening show of swankiness. You are the worst kind of person and I hope you choke on your gold, you pathetic caricature of Mister Creosote.

Should you have two grand to burn, why don't you enrich yourself in a meaningful way? Travel the world and see all its wonder and glory, and if for some reason you already did that, do it again; there's no way you caught everything on your first go around. Get yourself some books and read them to expand your mind, and may I suggest you begin with the works of Thorstein Veblen. Learn a language, take accordion lessons, do something that improves you, not just your intestinal lining.

You know what? Here's something better than that. You take that wad of hundred you were gonna buy yourself a gold-plated veal chop with and donate it. Donate to Feeding America, donate to The World Food Program, donate to The Global FoodBanking Network, donate that money to any other food-related charity so that someone who needs to eat, can.

Because if you can drop thousands of dollars on a burger that actually required heavy mining to create, you don't need to eat.

And now that we're done... help yourself to just a plain old-fashioned cupcake.

Source & Recipe: GoodToKnow

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