Spam Doing Just Fine
According to a recent article in the New York Times, the global economic meltdown has corresponded to a rapid increase in demand for the nation’s most emblematic weird food: Spam. The gelatinous, canned meat has weathered worse before, and it seems that when the going gets tough, Spam gets going.
The reasons are pretty obvious – Spam is really cheap, and even Americans strapped for cash have a desire to at least make an attempt at putting meat on the table. It was actually invented during the great depression by Jay Hormel, who described the airtight product that required no refrigeration as “meat with a pause button.”
Spam isn’t the only cheap food to be falling into fat times recently – pancake mixes, instant potatoes, rice and beans have all been seeing massive increase in demand across the country. It’s a cruel but unavoidable paradox – just when our food system seems to be getting about as bad as it’s ever been, Americans don’t have the money to eat anything but the very worst. What’s even worse is that crises surrounding the future of oil supply and water supply are eventually going to make this kind of cuisine impossible, but while the problem gets worse all we can do is eat more, more and more.
Our country as a whole is addicted to cheap food – we are driven to it in hard times when we have nothing else, and we are so terrified of what could be a catastrophic withdrawal that we are paralyzed to do anything but make the problem worse. The cycle has to be broken, and the answer, as always, will be subsidy reform. Spam and products like it are products of cheap corn, and the prohibitive expenses of positive alternatives are products of a government subsidy program that ignores environmental responsibility, public health, and long term planning.
In the meantime, we begrudgingly applaud the good people at Hormel for feeding an ailing nation with something resembling food.