Luxury status of scarce and expensive foods

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Foods that are scarce or expensive have a certain appeal of fashion or style; they are (rightly) regarded as luxuries for special occasions rather than everyday meals. Conversely, foods that are widespread and cheap have less appeal.

In the nineteenth century, salmon and oysters were so cheap that the Articles of apprentices in London specified that they should not be given salmon more than three times a week, while oysters were eaten by the poor. Through much of the twentieth century, salmon was scarce and a prized luxury food; however, fish farming has increased the supply of salmon to such an extent that it is again a (relatively) inexpensive food. Chicken, turkey, guinea fowl and trout, which were expensive luxury foods in the 1950s, are now widely available as a result of changes in farming practice, and they form the basis of inexpensive meals.

By contrast, fish such as cod and herring, once the basis of cheap meals, are now becoming scarce and expensive as a result of depletion of fish stocks by overexploitation.

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