Culture Sharing and Capitalism

lareynaAs children of the West, most of us are very fond of capitalism and all of the comforts that it brings us in our way of life. Even our poor maintain a much higher standard of living than the third world. Some people argue this is because of other extraneous factors like geography, culture, etc. and that may be correct, but that’s not what I want to talk about.

Like I said before, most Americans are (or at least should be) happy with the overall lifestyle they maintain in a capitalist society, but what effect does capitalism have on culture sharing? The way American corporate society is structured, only the very strong can survive. Typically, the “strong” are the most profitable, and the most profitable are not always the most authentic. As a native Texan, I saw examples of this everyday growing up. The success of restaurant is predestined by their start-up capital, location, and business management ability. A Mexican restaurant started by an entrepreneurial giant with no background in Mexican cuisine but substantial capital (think “On the Border”) is far more likely to succeed than an excellent Mexican chef who comes from across the border. While the chef may have superior ingredients, authentic methods, and an excellent product, his prices can be undercut by an establishment like “On the Border” that has mastered food efficiency, and could afford to go into the red for a little bit in order to crowd out competition.  Beyond that, “On the Border” would have an advantage in advertising and most likely location, so generating a client base would be pretty easy. Compare this to the start-up chef, who must use higher prices to cover his initial start-up costs, and has only a small “foodie” niche client base at the beginning to cater too. If he is lucky, word of mouth could help him take off and he could be a roaring success, but the odds aren’t in his favor.

The sad part of this to me is that there are many people, even in Texas, who grow up believing that our own Americanized Mexican cuisine is authentic, and we aren’t able to appreciate the true culture that could be shared with us because our expectations are so skewed by what we believe we know. I’m sure this could be said about all kinds of different foods in different areas across the United States. I don’t know what I would do to fix it, or if it is even possible, I just thought it needed to be pointed out.