The Tale of the $15 Tomato (Ep. 94)
Our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast is called “The Tale of the $15 Tomato.” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript here.) In it, you’ll hear Steve Levitt talk about his favorite foods (hint: most of them can be obtained via a drive-thru window); a surprisingly agrarian feature of his childhood; and his wildly unsuccessful effort to get his kids enthusiastic about agriculture.
As trivial as all that may sound, there is in fact a larger point to the podcast. As we once wrote in a Times column, modern and relatively well-off Americans spend a lot of time voluntarily performing the sort of menial labor (growing, baking, brewing, knitting, etc.) that our grandparents would likely have loved to not have to perform.
LEVITT: I think all of this movement towards doing our own labor, and pickling, and fancy food stuff that you do at home, I think that is really a sign of how spoiled we have all become. Our basic needs are so well taken care of that we need to seek out some sort of hardship to feel whole. Which is a good thing. It’s a great thing. What could be better than having all of your basic needs met?
Part of this episode was recorded outside a Wingstop in Chicago, where we were picking up some of the chicken wings that Levitt loves so dearly. You can read more about his wing obsession here and here. Or you can read his hard-luck story about A&W root beer. And for a full run-down of Levitt’s underdeveloped palate, you might want to revisit our “Do More Expensive Wines Taste Better?” podcast.