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Globalization Giveth and Globalization Taketh Away

French cuisine is dying. Don't blame globalization.
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(Photo: gkrphoto/Shutterstock)

(Photo: gkrphoto/Shutterstock)

I claim the Rust Belt as my native region. I was a child during the 1970s. I endured adolescence and young adulthood during the 1980s. Japan Inc scattered my extended family across the country. Long before the giant sucking sound of NAFTA, globalization killed my hometown.

My father was a white-collar worker, an electrical engineer by [Gannon] college degree. My family, during my income dependency, made two big moves. Thanks to General Electric, our household was first tied to Erie, Pennsylvania, then Schenectady, New York, and finally Burlington, Vermont. We never bolted to the likes of Charlotte, North Carolina. All the while, I was painfully aware that Japan was eating my lunch.

Today, Tokyo is eating the déjeuner of Parisian chefs:

France’s claim to the throne of good food and wine began to look shaky as long ago as 1976. That was when Steven Spurrier, a British wine merchant, organised a blind wine-tasting in Paris with 11 judges — nine were French — of high-end Chardonnays and red wines from France and California. California won.

Then, in 2007, the Michelin guide showered Tokyo with three-star awards in its inaugural guide to an Asian city, giving more top ratings to the Japanese capital than to Paris.

In a knife-twisting moment for France, Jean-Luc Naret, then Michelin’s international editorial director, described Tokyo as “by far the world’s capital of gastronomy”.

Blame globalization for the downfall of Erie and Paris, France. José Bové marches with you. Also blame globalization for the rise of Tokyo and its mastery of culinary delights. On the balance, the world is richer for it.

I have learned that globalization is not a thief. I no longer romanticize the "real" places that supposedly existed before outsiders wrecked everything. What's new? I welcome change.

Globalization did not torpedo my hometown. Globalization avoided my hometown. On the balance, its residents are poorer for it.