American polarization extends beyond politics

by Josh Sosland
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Critics of the political landscape in the United States often point to the polarization between the left and right and its paralyzing effects on the legislative process. So far apart have the two sides moved, that even processes that had been routine, such as the annual budget or passage of the federal highway bill, now are unable to move forward amid deeply entrenched partisan posturing.

This kind of polarization increasingly seems to have an analogue in food trends. On one side, groups like the Whole Grains Council are urging consumers to move beyond whole wheat bread and brown rice and begin embracing “delicious grains like spelt, farro, amaranth and teff.”

Farfetched as the widespread embrace of spelt may seem, the other side of the spectrum was entertainingly captured in a recent satirical piece in The Onion, describing what Americans “really want to eat.” The story describes a market researcher shaken up by his experience with a focus group he was conducting for Denny’s. The group seemed unimpressed by a breakfast menu idea of a sausage and pepper jack burrito “until it was served on a double stack of pancakes and received four ladles of melted nacho cheese.” More generally, the group agreed cookie crumbles and pizza would improve the Denny’s breakfast menu. As a potential popular food product today, which is more plausible — the teff or the breakfast burrito on a double stack of pancakes with nacho cheese?

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