The Pitfall of Predictability
I was having a chat a few days ago about the difference between macro suds and craft beer when the subject of consistency for the sake of predictability came up. At first blush, many would think that knowing what you are going to get is a good thing. I would say that is certainly true of manufactured items. You wouldn’t want to buy a product that doesn’t match the stated specifications or performance guarantee. However, I don’t believe this is nearly the case with natural products, such as food or beer.
First off, I’m a firm believer in the saying, “Variety is the spice of life.” I don’t want other people to be just like me. I’d die of boredom if I ate the same thing day in, day out. I rarely drink the same coffee twice in a row. It’s the odd occasion when I buy a six-pack of beer. Monoculture is deadening and unnatural.
Speaking of natural, nature is variable: organisms mutate, climate changes, growing conditions vary from year to year. Therefore, it stands to reason that a natural product, like beer, is not going to have the consistency of a manufactured product. There will be natural differences in the final flavour and aroma from batch to batch, even when the brewer’s inputs are precisely the same amounts of the recipe’s ingredients.
Nevertheless, that is the goal of corporate agribusiness — maximize efficiency and profit by removing natural variability for consistency and predictability. In order to achieve homogeneity, nature is removed from the natural to the fullest extent possible. It must then be reconstructed by the addition of uniform ingredients added in precise amounts in a controlled environment. Is it a wonder, then, that we have health problems with unnatural ingredients, such as hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup?
I don’t mind variability in my beer. As long as it is a good, natural brew, I look forward to discovering a new beer each time.