Monthly Archives: April 2020

EP 331 Is There American Cuisine?

  At our founding, there were very distinctive regional flavors that made up the American palate.  Over time, as part of the industrial revolution, Americans began to standardize the way foods were prepared, thus saving time and assuring us that a trusted brand stood behind what we were consuming.  Today, in a trend that has been in the making for decades, Americans are demanding tastier, fresher and more organic foods.  In his remarkable book ‘American Cuisine’, historian Paul Freedman explains the changing nature of food and diet in our culture.  Yes, of course, we talk about our propensity to eat fast and consume fast foods. And how various immigrants to our country have maintained their traditions or cast them aside.  However, his take on where our food choices originated and where the are headed is a fascinating romp that includes discussion of today’s restaurant experience, food trucks, diners and the economics of food in America.  And we touch on the impact of social media and food television on our gastronomical choices.  Cuisine choices explains a lot about a culture.  If you want to better understand ours, listen to this episode.

EP 330 America: Land of the Fee

Have you ever stopped to read all the fees tacked on to your electric bill, cable bill, mortgage, car or student loan?  It’s a cut by a thousand fees–$1.47 here, $2.50 there and before you know it, it adds up to real money.  In fact, it’s over a trillion and a half dollars a year to consumers.  In combination, financial deregulation and wage stagnation have thrown us into the arms of unscrupulous lenders who have helped write legislation and regulations allowing these practices to continue with little transparency.  Add to this the fact that governments at every level have employed their own chicanery to extract new revenues by adding fees and fines, which are little noticed or objected to, in lieu of increasing your taxes.  In fact, the largest growth in government finances in the recent period has come from these charges.  Devin Fergus, Ph.D., in his compelling new book ‘Land of the Fee’ explains how these fees have become an added cost to all of life’s essentials and a little acknowledged reason for the decline of the middle class and income inequality.  In fact, the cumulative effect can have lifetime and intergenerational consequences.