What would society be like, if there was infinite food and booze?

Inspired by a certain @KSmarts , based on a previous question over here, which talks about a kingdom with a super grasstato plant.

So, the kingdom is absolutely overflowing with potatoes, and it grows all over the place, so it is not difficult at all for anybody to part some grass and pull out some potatoes, and then brew it into vodka.

How would society be like now that vodka would be practically be almost as cheap as water, if not cheaper and more common than water? Don't forget about them having infinite food as well

• At least in the US, the cost of (non-prepared, non gourmet) food & alcoholic beverages is really not a significant factor for a large segment of the population. (Excluding wine/whisky snobs and the like.) We eat and drink as much as we want - which for many people is moderate eating and little or no drinking - and spend a few percent of our income on it. Why should the overall demographics change if food & drink become free instead of real cheap? – jamesqf Feb 25 '15 at 5:14
• So we all live in a perpetual 24/7/365 wedding reception? – Dan Smolinske Feb 25 '15 at 5:58
• @jamesqf I disagree. For the US the median income is ~$32K - and food is about 32% of the budget, with eating out pulling in another 12%. And that's on average. The poor make do with less, but the cost of food doesn't go down for them, and nutritional needs don't vary as much as income does. Which leads me to guess that you're pulling in in excess of$60K a year, without a lot of bills (too many kids) to impact your spending money. Probably hang out with those types of people too. – user3082 Feb 25 '15 at 9:23
• @DanSmolinske ...on horseback, no less! :D :D – user3082 Feb 25 '15 at 9:29
• @KSmarts: The lifestyle choice here is choosing to have those children in the first place. And note that I did say "a large segment of the population". If we look at say people with incomes over \\$100K, do they all laze around drinking & gorging themselves all day? Not at all - even the ones who have passive income, so they could maintain that lifestyle without working. So why would we expect different behavior if food & drink were free? – jamesqf Feb 26 '15 at 4:00

Note that even if the base resource is infinite, food and booze would not be free: you still have to pay the workers, and I suspect that actually makes most of vodka's price.

So instead what you have is a highly competitive vodka and potatoes producer. As pointed out by jamesqf's comment, that wouldn't change society much.

However it is also interesting to look at the geopolitics that could arise from this situation. Since selling those products is a live-or-die condition, we can assume that those products are heavily exported. And since they are extremely competitive, a huge part of the food consumed in other countries could come from your potatoes.

This has a major consequence:
In nearby countries, agriculture may be very under-developed: because why would they bother with producing food that will eventually be more expensive than the one you are providing.

So you have a huge political leverage on these countries: If they do not obey you, you can threaten to increase the price of the potatoes, which would cause a famine since their agriculture is not equipped to deal with such a situation.

To see what that could do in real life, you can look at the relationship between Russia and many ex-USSR countries. There it's not potatoes but gas, but the consequences are the same.

• What you didn't see in this question, is that nobody outside the country likes potatoes. Which means you'd have to disguise the nature of the vodka. And food exports (well, except for horseflesh) won't be a thing. – user3082 Feb 25 '15 at 9:28
• @user3082 That's too bad, I really liked the idea of a potatoe superpower... – Maxime Lucas Feb 25 '15 at 9:36
• @skysurf3000 So does Dan Quayle. – KSmarts Feb 25 '15 at 15:02
• There's also the dangers of monoculture. Ireland was feeding 9 million people and exporting huge quantities of food in 1800. Lower infant mortality than any other european country, less children with stunted growth. It was a real super-food. But when a country relies on one plant... one plant disease can kill millions. – Murphy Mar 11 '16 at 11:15
• One reason neighboring countries might invest in agriculture is to negotiate a better price on potatoes. If I have zero agriculture then then PotatoLand can charge any price they want. If I have some farms then PotatoLand can only charge a bit less than the proce of me growing the potatoes myself. – Daron Nov 25 '20 at 1:08

Free food and alcohol?! When do I move? ;D I imagine that immigration would be high.

Actually, immigration might be a problem. Everyone crossing proverbial boarders to live there could lead to a housing shortage. Low prices on food and drink, coupled with lots of people; most of your wage would go into rent. Those that are poor lose their homes. But due to the price of food and alcohol, can still afford to indefinitely live in a drunken state.

But back to the topic at hand. If everyone was forever mildly buzzed, you might see less stressed people. You'd certainly see less productive people. And possibly an increase in liver disease.

Those that don't drink would be at a competitive advantage to those that do. As too those that can hold their liquor better than most.

• Also more fights. More property destruction. Alcohol is one of the worst easy-to-make drugs. – user3082 Feb 25 '15 at 9:27
• @user3082 Alcohol is significantly more harmful than pretty much all other legal or illegal drugs. Cigarets are one of the few things more harmful. – Tim B Feb 25 '15 at 9:52
• @TimB I disagree. eg: Krokodil (Desomorphine). But, most of the drugs that I consider more harmful, are difficult to produce for a lower-tech society without adequate chemical feedstocks. But alcohol is basically food and fermentation, widely available to even the most primitive of societies. And with pretty (potentially) harmful effects. As well as socially acceptable. – user3082 Feb 25 '15 at 10:41
• I like a drink, but drunk people have an incredibly destructive impact on our society: crashing cars, getting in fights, beating their wife and kids, etc. Have you ever been in ER on a friday night? It sucks. I doubt that everyone would stay "mildly buzzed". I think a lot of people would be chronic alcoholics, and there would be a lot of problems. – Max Williams Mar 11 '16 at 14:40

What I see would be a country that doesn't do anything. If you are always fed and you have these potatoes under foot that get in the way of anything productive why bother? Then you add abundant and cheap alcohol on top of that? You'll have a country of tubers and couch potatoes.

Of course some small percentage of the country will work and have ambition, but if no one wants what you've got, trade is nil. So what do the people have to live for? Killing a few animals for protein and their hides for cloths and tools, dig some holes to live in.

Most with any drive would probably move to the borders and try to set up some kind of business with the outside world.

For many kingdoms throughout ancient history, we see that a surplus of food really opens up more time in the day for people. This isn't a bad thing; it leads to many more people devoting their time to education and the arts. For example, the first governments and states rose out of societies that had a surplus of food, because the rich now had time to fill jobs such as politicians and judges.

I think if this kingdom had sudden access to infinite food, we would see an explosion of culture. There might be some logistical problems at first, due to the fact that the kingdom would have to adjust its infrastructure. I'm not entirely sure how trade would react but overall the access to abundant food would be a good thing.

I assume by the word 'infinite' you means that there is no limit and it's completely free. So it's all free food and alcohol. Assuming low-to-none production cost.

Based on the law of supply and demand, if the supply is theoretically infinite, then the price would be theoretically free.

So, what would human do if they don't need to work to get food?

Human have 3 kinds of needs (economically) sorted by the most important:

1. Primary needs (including basic food, water, home, and basic clothing) - basically the essence of human survival

2. Secondary needs - the needs for other thing that you can live without, but don't want to (like education, furniture, basic vehicles like bike)

3. Tertiary needs - the needs for high priced goods (like cars, phones, computers, better foods, higher educations, etc.) - this one is 'endless' needs. No matter how many money one have, he/she can't fully fulfill this needs

If the primary needs have been fulfilled, then humans will try to fulfill secondary needs, etc.

With free food, no human would become lazier, because they still have a long list of needs to be fulfilled (the secondary and tertiary needs). And they would spend their time with education / art / research or anything to fulfill their endless needs.

Another probability:

If that kingdom have weak military force, there is a probability that another kingdom will try to invade it for its endless resource, just like how the history has proven it by the word 'colonization'.

You might want to consider this experiment: mice had unlimited food supply in a limited space (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_sink, http://io9.gizmodo.com/how-rats-turned-their-private-paradise-into-a-terrifyin-1687584457).

Unlimited food -> population growth -> overpopulation -> fights, lost interest in reproducing, careless behavior about offspring -> ... -> population eventually unable to recover -> extinction.

• I think you miss the step where they reduced the food availability... nevertheless, can you expand your asnwer a bit more? Links can often get corrupted, and your answer has to hopefully stay supportive for long. – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Jul 13 '17 at 13:44