Jason Perlow vs. Steven Shaw's 'Week Without Shopping'

Endless self-promoter Jason Perlow is publicly taking issue with his eGullet co-founder Steven Shaw's "Week Without Shopping," now that Shaw is "tentatively scheduled" to appear on ABC's Good Morning America.

Shaw's "week" or "month without shopping" is an experiment in cooking and eating only what's currently in the refrigerator or pantry, plus a soupçon of conspicuous abstention: participants are supposed to show off what they produce online. It was covered on a couple of high-profile blogs (Eater, The New York Times' Diners' Journal) but it wasn't the viral juggernaut Shaw seemed to want it to be.

The general consensus in the blogosphere was that the plan would do more harm to the food world than good, the withheld expenditures hurting restaurants and markets that need patronage most.

Now that Shaw is maybe going to be on everyone's TV, Perlow's decided to pick up this thread and run with it: He fears that large-scale television exposure to the concept of not shopping or eating out would be nationally and economically "self-destructive," creating a zombie-like no-shopping army out of the American gentry. (Amazingly, for evidence, he cites a recent episode of South Park, where the townspeople stopped shopping in a religious fervor to satiate the "Economy.")

Calling any exposure to Shaw's experiment "too preposterous and too dangerous to even consider," Perlow continues:

All it takes is a five minute segment on a nationally televised show for ten million Americans to get some really stupid ideas in their heads.... I think what is important for everyone to understand is just how fragile the economy is right now. If we all collectively decided to stop spending money — that if suddenly, the American public as a whole came to the conclusion that Shaw’s idea of eating out of our cupboards for a a week or a month was actually a good idea, then our economy would suffer irreparable harm. Countless stores would close, as would many of our favorite restaurants which are already at risk of shutting their doors.

So what's Perlow gonna do (other than blog about it)? He's going to generously take the role of our economic savior: "Those of us who have the means to eat out, whether it be once a week or once a month need to ensure that we continue to do so. If not, our economy will never rebound." On a larger scale, he's organizing a series of "Economic Stimulus Dinners" (the first will be in Chengdu 1 in Cedar Grove NJ, on Saturday, April 25th — you can rsvp on Facebook).

In the face of people consuming less, he's going to consume more — and do his own stimulating by encouraging other people to do the same. We presume if his ego and reputation get stimulated in the process, that's just an unavoidable consequence of his noble actions.

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