Ideas that add up #103

I fancy myself a bit of an aficionado of smoking and I glibly observed that now his exemplary product was going to be sold in places like Selfridges, he should probably invest in some sexy, stainless steel, computer-controlled kit to improve the consistency of his salmon. Hansen raised himself to his substantial, Viking height and very politely put me straight.

“Why would I want to be ‘consistent’?”, he said. “It’s an artisanal product and variation is part of that. It’s how people know it’s not mass produced.”

Tim Hayward in FT Magazine Oct 11th, 2014

We do tend to toggle between these choices, being the discerning food consumers that we think we are: McBurger (must be more or less identical every time) or local organic goats cheese from the deli counter (misshapen chunk – that’s just fine); tin of tomato soup (100% consistency required – anything weird and it goes in the bin) or off-centre bug-scarred apple from Whole Foods (gnarly is good!). 

What’s the draw of stainless-steel computer-controlled consistency? It doesn’t exist in Nature, not for living creatures, but Homo consumerus seems to have a fetish for it. Especially when it comes to mass-produced food: no nasty surprises, please. Organic unpredictability not welcome here! This phenomenon must be a by-product of our machine-stamped, process-driven industrial era.

Then again, we ourselves may be the by-product of this machine-stamped, process-driven industrial era…

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