Why we eat better today

Megan McArdle has an excellent post at Bloomberg review that she titled The Economics Behind Grandma's Tuna Casseroles.

McArdle sets out to explain why we eat differently (and in many ways better) than our grandparents.  Here's my favorite passage:

You have a refrigerator full of good-looking fresh ingredients, and a cabinet overflowing with spices, not because you’re a better person with a more refined palate; you have those things because you live in 2015, when they are cheaply and ubiquitously available. Your average housewife in 1950 did not have the food budget to have 40 spices in her cabinets, or fresh green beans in the crisper drawer all winter.

She also notes that food preference were probably similar in the 1950s as compared to today, it's just that our grandparents couldn't afford to eat the way we now do, and technological changes have made what were previously "fancy" foods available to the masses.  Take, Jello for instance:

The foods of today’s lower middle class are the foods of yesterday’s tycoons. Before the 1890s, gelatin was a food that only rich people could regularly have. It had to be laboriously made from irish moss, or calf’s foot jelly (a disgusting process), or primitive gelatin products that were hard to use. The invention of modern powdered gelatin made these things not merely easy, but also cheap. . . . Over time, the ubiquity of these foods made them déclassé. Just as rich people stopped installing wall-to-wall carpeting when it became a standard option in tract homes, they stopped eating so many jello molds and mayonnaise salads when they became the mainstay of every church potluck and school cafeteria. That’s why eating those items now has a strong class connotation.

There is a lot more at the link and the whole thing is worth reading.