Gourmet fascists geld fast food fans

Australia’s Margaret River region is special. Located in the south-west of our massive continent, it is around 3.5 hours’ drive from Perth, the capital of Western Australia.

Once a home to very relaxed if rather penniless surfers, it has been gentrified – and how – in more recent years until it has some of the best and most premium-priced real estate in the nation.

As Tourism WA puts it: “It’s the only wine region in Australia where you can hop from award-winning wineries and restaurants to stunning beaches, tall-timber forests, world-class surf breaks and ancient caves”.

The gushing PR blurb goes further: “ . . . besides over 100 wineries, you’ll be spoilt for choice with many fine restaurants, boutique breweries, art galleries and fresh produce, from divine cheeses to chocolate”. Enough to get the most jaded palate salivating. But therein lies the rub. The new locals, many of them blow-ins, no longer have a taste for the basics.
The well-heeled late arrivals have taken umbrage at plans by Australia’s major supermarket chain, Woolworths, to establish a fast-food outlet in a new shopping complex. The snobs reckon it will ruin the taste of the area’s reputation as a gourmet food and wine centre and – wait for it – undermine its economic viability. Get outta here!

Over 100 wineries brought to their knees by just one fast food outlet? Tell ya, not since the loaves and fishes exercise has so little achieved so much.

The truly weird thing is that there are already several fast food chains in the town. The up-market protestors (over 350 of them so far) see the issue as “whether we can maintain regionality or whether big business rules”.

They protest that tourists come to Margaret River for a different experience and that if “our town becomes full of franchises and a cookie-cutter version of other towns” it will not survive in the long term. “Maintaining our authenticity is very important to us”.

Sure, one can sympathise with their desire to maintain purity and cultivate a lifestyle. But we live in a democracy where all have equal rights – even those who consume fast food. It is a basic human motivation to establish enclaves and erect barriers to keep out those who are different. But in a globalised contemporary society veritable exclusion zones are neither fair, reasonable nor even legal in many jurisdictions.

Which makes you wonder just how those original penniless surfers who got squeezed out by the big bucks blow-ins feel about their lost inheritance? The whiff of hypocrisy is more likely to drive away tourists than any fast food venture and wouldn’t that be just desserts?