"Raw" Consumerism

I am never sure what constitutes "consumerism." On the one hand, I grew up in the time before pasta (we looked forward to "noodles" as we trudged home the five miles uphill in the snow when gasoline cost a quarter), and somewhat distrust the trend to turn every blessed item into something "gourmet" that requires a sophisticated palate and "tastings." I confess my low-brow tendencies. Well, confess might not be the right word . . .I'm kind of proud of them, actually.
I like a nice wine, but I never want to suffer the fate of my good friend whose wine expertise has made her unable to enjoy a cheap bottle. After everyone became a wine expert, then came coffee & tea. We have friends who are poor as church-mice --I mean, truly subsistence-level income-- and when they stayed with us while passing through town recently, the husband brought his own gourmet coffee beans and got up early to make his own special cup (it was for him, not something to share with the house). I confess I was a bit scandalized at this extravagance, since I basically agree with Jackie Mason, who says, "You gotta be a schmuck to pay $3.00 for a .30 cup of coffee." When I occasionally thumb through my mom's copy of Martha Stewart Living and the recipe calls for "6 oz. best-quality chocolate," I feel irked. I was so happy as a mother when each of my kids was weaned from the bottle --but now you can't find any adults who don't walk around with a water bottle in their hands. I don't get it.
On the other hand, however, taste is to be developed, and for as much excess as there is in our culture, there is also the opposing stream of puritanical disdain for the corporeal, and I don't want to fall into the trap of not appreciating expertise, grandeur, human excellence. Is it sinfully wasteful to splurge on gourmet coffee when you're struggling to pay your bills? Or is it one legitimate pleasure in the midst of a rough life? I don't know. "Consumerism" is an ill that I haven't quite worked my way around to defining.
But I feel confident in proclaiming that these people need to get a life. This is from the 2nd in a 2-part series the W. Post has run on "premium" jeans.
These days, Mauro is extremely fond of "raw" jeans, made from virgin denim that has never been washed or treated. Four to five days a week, he wears a particular pair of raw jeans. He has been wearing them like this for more than three months and won't even dream of washing them till it's been half a year.
Raw denim is really dark blue and stiff when you first put it on, and in the beginning it tends to bleed onto white sneakers and light-colored couches. But after six months of near-constant wear, Mauro says, the jeans will fit him perfectly and will have faded in all the right places. There will be "whiskering" around his crotch and "honeycombing" behind the knees."This jean will be unique to me," Mauro says.
"They kind of show your soul, you know?" says a woman who represents a raw jeans brand.
Yes, Lady, I'm afraid they do.