In an age of abundance, how does the way we think about food differ from the past? EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomed historian Rachel Laudan for a fascinating conversation about the history, culture, and economics of food.


1. What was the most interesting thing you took from this week’s episode? Explain.

2. Even today, French cuisine is regarded as the pinnacle of fine dining. How did this come to pass (and why did British cuisine fall out of fashion)? To what extent are you surprised that there has been less cultural backlash against haute cuisine?

3. Eugene Wei at Remains of the Day was inspired by this episode to write a lengthy post on the role of food in the competition for status. Read it, please. Do you think food is the new music?

4. Are you a proponent of local food? Why or why not? Why has Laudan been critical of this trend, and to what extent can you, especially as a local food devotee, agree?

5. Laudan and Roberts describe the emergence of the hamburger and its cultural significance. How does the humble hamburger illustrate the importance of abundance and choice? What food(s) do you predict will be “the next hamburger,” and why?