Oatmeal Economics

Because this is a business and economics site, it's rare that we discuss matters relating to oatmeal. But over at Serious Eats, Erin Zimmer artfully explains why oatmeal is the food of this recession-ravaged moment.

Oatmeal is entering a golden age, and shoot, who's complainin'? Cheap, easy, and stickable to your bones, oatmeal is like that hot chick every party wants. She's down for whatever (soy milk, syrups, nuts, dried fruits), can look hot in a few minutes (three? sure), and isn't remotely pretentious (just a peasant food behind all the toppings). And with this new campaign, oatmeal has proven it's also a bit creepy, but really, who isn't?

It's the latest in the humble-to-haute comfort food revival trend, and if that means people will stop yapping about bacon and cupcakes for a second, I say, show us what you've got little oat.

This strikes me as a far more plausible and sustainable food trend for the downturn era than, say, canning and preserving one's own peaches, a post-apocalyptic skill-set newly embraced by a handful of urban hipsters and rural survivalists. Assuming we don't end up living in a world that closely resembles the dystopia featured in Cormac McCarthy's The Road, most of us will still have microwaves and jobs (of some kind), which means that canning and preserving will continue to carry a heavy opportunity cost. Instant oatmeal, in contrast, has all of the virtues Zimmer describes and more.

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Reihan Salam is a policy advisor at Economics 21, a columnist for The Daily, and a blogger for National Review Online.

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