Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mass Merch Hell

I had thought on some previous trips that I was simply spoiled, or that I had developed highly specialized tastes in food and drink to the point that I was in danger of crossing into the area of the foo-foo or snobbish realm. Sure I enjoy aged cheeses like 5+ year old Gouda, and yes I truly enjoy good wines and the like, which may sound a bit foo-foo or snobbish, but what I came to realize tonight is that what I truly enjoy is well crafted food and drink, just like I enjoy well crafted furniture, art, or architecture.

Tonight's realization came as I looked through the aisles of the "good" liquor/wine store in this lovely midwest town in which I am currently staying. I realized that I was annoyed not only at the 20% increase in prices, and the general decrease in selection, but also in the specific nature of that decrease in selection. What was on the shelves, and this holds true for all stores here from grocery to kitchen supplies, and even to the very types of stores which are available here. What has clearly happened is that folks in this area have no idea how to create their own goods, or being I believe overly generous they believe that there is no market for well crafted local goods.

What you find on the shelves here are the most common mass produced products. Oh sure there are a few left overs from the micro-brew days, but that is as far as it goes here. I had hoped to find a nice hard cider tonight. But after a great deal of searching all that I could come up with is the most popular and most tasteless brand which is available nationally..

I understand that not everything will exist everywhere, and I am actually very okay with that. What I see as a real problem, and one which I suspect from my own travels, is very prevelant across the country, is that craft made products are disappearing or as in the case of the midwest completely gone.

So since mass produced generic crap was all that was available, I left the store with one of the less respected mass produced wines (considered a bulk wine producer) because if you have to drink mass produced er.. stuff... you might as well pay as little as possible for it..

Still I am unhappy with the product (no surprise) and less happy that I could not find something local and interesting.

We travel not to see the same places we have seen or eat the same food we can eat at home. We do not need another Applebees or some other vile bland carbon copy place anywhere in the world. We need local people doing the local thing, creating unique foods and new experiences.

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