During the 20th Century, large sections of
the US economy were driven by food-related industries. It was a time of plenty for all.
Food scarcity was not an issue. However, since the collapse, America lost its capacity to
feed itself. The food industry essentially was crippled, and in many respects evolved
into the fuel industry. It was no longer about producing palatable food to satiate one’s
culinary desires, but manufactured nourishment that kept you alive. The products vary in
quality and quantity, but they are all known by the same appellation. Kibble.
By far the simplest of the foods you will find in Night City, kibble was originally
designed by Purina Foods for the South American relief effort. It has a dry and grainy consistency
similar to pet food. Kibble provides a full day’s supply of all the essential vitamin
and mineral compounds, along with a minimal amount of complete proteins containing the
nine amino acids necessary in the human diet. Other products include tailored proteins generically
referred to as SCOP. These Single Cell Organic Proteins are tailored to fit into almost any
food niche. It can, and does, look like any other food product. Soya has also been genetically
tailored to fit into any of the thousands of vegetable protein foods currently available.
What happened to normal food such as fruit, vegetables and meat? Fresh food and alcohol
are still available to the elite of Night City. Fresh food became scarce as virulent
bio plagues and massive burials of the Collapse ruined almost all the natural ground water
in the continental United States. Fresh foods that are produced and consumed by Americans
are now usually grown in sealed hydroponic gardens to eliminate the chance of contamination.
Most of the fresh food consumed is imported; parts of Europe, Canada, and the Old Soviet
Republics became the new breadbaskets of the world.
Following the events of the Fourth Corporate War, convenience stores with a consistent
supply of food and other groceries were no longer viable. In their place came the Night
Markets. These random markets were dependent upon whether a good shipment happened to come
through or the Nomads serendipitously came across something of value. Access to these
Night Markets was limited. One often needed the right connections to get a piece of the
action. Following the devastation of Night City’s
infrastructure and pollution, the dependence upon synthetic food such as Kibble became
even greater. For those with more Eddies to spend, prepack became a more attractive option.
Prepack are meals that can be microwaved or self-heated for consumption. While still largely
composed of kelp, plankton and soy proteins like Kibble, prepack is usually flavoured
more effectively and often contains real meat or veggies inside. In case the thought of
prepacks makes your mouth water, in the wise words of lieutenant Lenina Huxley from the
Demolition man, just don’t ask where the meat comes from Choomba.
As many faced the prospect of starvation right after the war, they developed a penchant for
guerrilla gardening. For those not well versed with the horticultural lexicon, Guerrilla
gardening refers to the act of gardening on land that individuals do not have the legal
rights to cultivate. There was still the issue of radioactivity and toxic waste traces, but
many were ignorant of these problems. Naturally these resources gathered the attention
of those who were not interested in growing food for themselves and thus conflicts began.
The body counts rose. You might be wondering what happens with the bodies? Let’s just
say the fertilizer for Guerrilla gardens needs to come from somewhere.
Nomad convoys aided Night City, small animals such as chickens, goats and dwarf pigs began
being introduced. It also afforded new business opportunities as gardeners hired Solo’s
to protect their animals as they are considered a luxury delicacy. Such food was normally
available to the power dealers of Night City. As for Night City, there were a few interesting
food establishments that one might keep an eye out for. Guevarra’s is a Mexican restaurant
owned and operated by ex-CIA agents. Unbeknownst to most, the two have also set up a weapon
smuggling network which operates out of the back alley.
SoSushiMe is the product of two lawyers who came up with the idea of marketing pre-packaged
sushi in seaweed cartons to save unnecessary waste. This franchise became one of the most
popular eating establishments in the corporate world.
The Silver Dragon is a high-quality Chinese restaurant, catering exclusively to the population
of Little China. Any outsiders will be turned away, with excuses like “no more tables” or
“just closing”. If potential patrons bully themselves into the Silver Dragon, they will
soon regret their presumption. What one eats in Night City is dependent on
one’s social class. Mike Pondsmith aptly used the analogy of a coral reef to represent
the diversity of life. Just like a coral reef, each area of Night City has its own type of
native lifeform. Some are secretive and deadly such as sharks, others wrap themselves in
camouflage to get the jump on their prey, some like hermit crabs take their heavy armour
and weapons wherever they go. The social hierarchy can be broadly demarcated into seven classes.
These are Powerdealers, Corpzoners, Movers, Edgerunners, Mallplexers, Beavers & Streetscum.
Powerdealers are top of the food chain in Night City. Elusive and secretive, they represent
the CEO’s of the Megacorporation’s or world-famous media personalities, and those
that pull the strings behind international politics. As the social elite, they are always
surrounded by an impressive entourage and security detail. These individuals live lives
filled with unimaginable extravagance, treat themselves to the best that money can buy,
attending concerts and expensive banquets. Most Powerdealers are found living in penthouses
of the towering monoliths of Night City’s Corporate centre. Power dealers eat real food,
prepared by real people. Beef grown on ranches, guaranteed to be toxic-free. Fruits and vegetables
from hydroponic gardens and South American farms.
Corpzoners manage the running of the corporations on a national level. These individuals also
live in the Corporate Zone of Night City, albeit not in the extravagant penthouses that
the Powerdealers reside in. Their lifestyle is elegant and on the cutting edge, with many
having personal servants, fitness trainers, maids and bodyguards. Corpzoners often have
contracts with private protection firms such as Arasaka. Their past times include attending
galleries, restaurants, playing tennis and recreational drug use. Corpozoners typically
eat fresh food four nights a week, and the rest of the time, eat at the best restaurants
Night City has to offer. On the fringe of the corporate zone where
more affordable apartments are found, are those commonly referred to as Movers. These
are the individuals that are on the lowest rung of the corporate ladder. Movers neither
have the finances or time for the ostentatious lifestyle of the Powerdealers and Corpzoners.
In line with the Red Queen Hypothesis, a Mover typically spends most of their time working
for an advancement opportunity or to ensure they do not fall off the corporate ladder.
Ironically it is said movers don’t’ have time to eat real food.
Edgerunners are the most heterogenous group in Night City. Often the characteristic that
defines them is their unorthodox lifestyles. Their occupations cover the full spectrum
of activities, smuggling, assassination, netrunning or more artistic endeavours such as musicians
or entertainers. Capricious in nature, one month an Edgerunner can be enjoying the pleasures
of organic food or erotic braindances, while the next month it maybe a diet of roasted
rat kebabs. Mallplexers are miserable corporate slaves
who spend their life in economic bondage. The name Mallplexer is derived from Mega shopping
malls that the middle class reside in. Originally these were heavily secured urban shopping
malls, but over time underwent modification with the addition of office towers and residential
apartments. Because of the high degree of security, they afford to the inhabitants,
Mallplexes generally survived the collapse of American society. However, their popularity
meant competition for space became intense. Inhabitants typically live in a single room
with bathroom facilities and these are often shared with others. The middle class make
their eddies via sales, clerical or service positions, or simply flipping burgers to make
a living. Mallplexers learn to love eating Kibble, lots and lots of kibble.
Beavers, the moniker is derived from the derogatory street slang “Leave it to Beaver”. Beavers
are another form of middle-class worker, although in contrast to the Mallplexers, they live
in corporate owned and controlled housing developments on the outskirts of Night City’s
Urban Area. Life in a Beaverville tends to clean, quiet and far more family friendly
than the Mallplex. Usually the corporations provide beavers with food coupons so they
can avoid eating kibble for most of the time. Last and probably least are the Streetscum.
Streetscum are forced to live in the Combat Zone in decaying dilapidated tenements. The
alternatives are coffins, cube like structures which are nothing more than sleeping modules
for the homeless. The Combat Zone is where you will find the most notorious gangs, cultists,
dorphers and other deviants. Typically, a Streetscum’s sustenance revolves around
kibble and the epitome of fine cuisine the infamous roasted rat. Bon Appetit Choomba!