Rich Food, Poor Food


I remember when my mother started using ragi flour at home. Often eaten by the poor, ragi was seen as low-status and shunned by the rich and affluent. Yet curiously, ragi has enormous nutritional benefits that the wealthy thus missed entirely.

Nor is ragi alone here:

Jowar and bajra, for all their nutritional and environmental value, still suffer from the reputation of being poor people’s food.

Wheat flour over ragi; white flour over wheat flour; white rice over brown rice. Sedentary living over physical labor. Foam shoes that distort the natural shape of the foot. Elevated seats instead of sitting on the floor. Chairs that encourage us to slouch into them and let our back muscles atrophy.

I'm painting in broad strokes here and surely fuzzing some nuance. (White rice is stores better than brown rice, for example.) But I think the general point stands: many of the customs that the rich prefer, and that the poor have no access to, are worse options overall.

So I wonder: to what extent does this apply to the social and the cultural?

The only candidate that comes to mind is the preference of the affluent to delay marriage and family life. But I'm curious if that holds up under scrutiny, or what other candidates one might consider.

(NB: I use "preference" here, but I understand that many of these choices are made under cultural duress and are not often conscious.)