Take a renowned economist to lunch, and you learn a few things. For instance, if you dine where children are among the patrons, you can count on bad food. Children are, in fact, one of the reasons American food got so bad. The other reason? Prohibition.
Professor Cowen places some of the blame for the Dark Age of American food through most of the 20th century on Prohibition. Before the 18th Amendment banned the sale of alcohol, he said, restaurant meals in America were better because the cost of alcohol helped subsidize the food. Restaurants that survived Prohibition were better at bribery and making connections than at cooking, he said. Cheap food, and restaurants that catered to children, prospered.
He reserves his harshest comments for the damage children have done to American food. He says the exalted status children have had in dictating our food choices since the 1950s is one reason so much food is bland and not very nutritious.
“Economic Theory Plots a Course for Good Food,” by Damon Darlin, The New York Times, April 10, 2012