America has "inferior" food?

Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution has been pondering the question of why America has inferior raw ingredients for cooking compared even to developing countries. He had a list of reasons of which number 3 (efficient transportation) and number 4 (efficient large scale agriculture) are instructive. The American market has made the (I’d say rational) choice of having good quality with plenty of quantity. Those other markets may have marginally superior quality but at the expense of markets that don’t provide the goods reliably. We have the distinct advantage of being able to walk into a grocery store any day of the year except December 25 and purchase a can of any number of vegetables at a price so low that it’s awfully hard to go hungry here. These developing countries may have superior vegetables when they have them, but when they don’t they eat some pretty unappetizing replacements. So Ethiopia beats us on quality, but in this case I’ll take quantity and a dash more cayenne, thanks.

Dave Friedman confirms it: “Cowen is right. Go to any farmer’s market across Europe–even in big cities–and the produce is fresher with a wide variety available–than anything you will find in an American grocery store. To say nothing of the wine and cheeses available.”

I don’t doubt it for a minute. You see one of the benefits of living out here in the middle of nowhere is that we also have farmer’s markets including the farmers selling produce a couple of days a week on the county square in season. Plus garden produce, even if you don’t garden almost everyone has friends and family who do. Memorial Day weekend is especially noted for fresh asparagus roasted over a float trip campfire – beats the best stuff frozen hands down and completely blows away the canned variety. Perhaps, more urbanization should be added to the list of reasons?