The Laboratorium
February 2014

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This City Has a Food Inequality Crisis. The Reason Why Will Shock You.

I have a parable up on the Washington Post’s WonkBlog, “This restaurant fable explains everything wrong with San Francisco right now. It’s the story of the city of Junipero, which has a severe problem of food inequality. The wealthy, who work in the city’s booming birdcage industry, are eating like gluttonous emperors, but their fellow citizens are on the brink of starvation. It isn’t pretty:

Junipero’s cultural politics have gotten ugly. Angry protesters are smashing restaurant windows, hurling garbage at anyone who eats in public, and picketing the private food trucks that provide box lunches for birdcage foundries. One prominent birdcage CEO turned the anger back, saying in a TV interview that making birdcages is hard work and requires a full stomach, and people who don’t deserve or appreciate good food should stop complaining about those who will put it to better use. A graffiti mural downtown has become a symbol of the city’s tensions: it depicts a tide of bone-thin children, pressed up against the bars of a locked and gilded birdcage, staring forlornly at platters of grilled-cheese sandwiches stacked within.

But things are not as they first seem in Junipero, and maybe this isn’t just a story of rich versus poor … read the whole thing to find out why.