In many near-future {{dystopia}}n science fiction settings, prices on some items, particularly natural things created by natural processes, are quite high, as opposed to mass-produced via synthetic processes. This is particularly the case if the setting is specifically shown to be one of [[GaiasLament severe environmental degradation]], where agriculture is difficult or natural agricultural products unsafe, or where most natural-born animals are extinct. People just take it for granted that certain things are not to be had for regular folks, or that if they are, they're grown in batches in laboratories, or in the case of animals, they may be machines designed to look like the real thing.

Can be written off as ArtisticLicenseBiology, if it's not justified by pollution or disease having reduced the remaining real organisms' fertility. Making more of themselves is something that living things tend to be pretty good at, after all. For agricultural products, it may be explained by an economy of scale -- once most people switch to the cheaper synthetic product, the real thing becomes even ''more'' expensive because it's made in smaller quantities.

This trope typically occurs when one character encounters an object, usually food or an animal, and questions the owner about it. They may ask "Is this real?" to which the owner of a synthetic item/cloned animal replies "Of course not." Or if the character is meant to be fabulously wealthy, or only the best will do, and the item is natural it could be "Of course."

See also FutureFoodIsArtificial, CommonPlaceRare, BlackMarketProduce, MundaneLuxury. A counterpart is WorthlessYellowRocks; both can exist in the same work.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* In Mamoru Oshii's ''Anime/GhostInTheShell 2: Innocence'', Togusa asks Batou if his basset hound is a clone, remarking that the real thing (as though a clone is any less real) is expensive. (Batou also feeds his dog real food, but this is not presented as an issue of cost, but one of taste.) ''Ghost in the Shell'' is set in a world recovering from war, not (demonstrably) one with a thoroughly devastated environment, however, so the trope borders on cliche here.
** Of course in a world where cybernetics and androids are so plentiful, it could be that some people keep robotic pets that don't have the living and training needs of a real live one.
** In the ''Anime/GhostInTheShellStandAloneComplex'' series, the robotic Tachikomas regard all-natural motor oil as a real treat, much better than synthetic oil. Batou treating "his" Tachikoma differently from the rest, by regularly treating it to natural oil, is a catalyst for the robots developing individuality and self-awareness. [[spoiler: That and the anomolies caused by the oil corroding part of its circuitboard]].
* In one episode of ''Anime/TheBigO'', pet animals are in fact so rare that everyone is quite shocked when Dorothy finds a cat. The owners come and take it back despite how attached Dorothy has gotten [[spoiler:because it's really their son. A mad scientist turns people into animals ''because'' they're so incredibly rare. Or something. Later, it gets turned into a giant monster.]] They're ''that'' rare, apparently.
* In ''Anime/RebuildOfEvangelion 2.0'', this trope is played straight when the kids get shown a giant aquarium where specimens of pre-2nd impact sealife are preserved. Rei muses that they are the same as her and can't live outside this sheltered environment. Also, the fact that synthetic meat is the norm. The sheer dissonance between the kid's bewilderment at their first time seeing sealife, and Kaji and Misato's painful memories of the 2nd impact (Misato did not want to come because she would remember the event; Kaji wanted the kids to know what life was before 2nd impact), makes for a very dramatic moment as the viewer realizes this trope is in full effect. Slice of life AND backstory exposition, AND character drama all rolled into one.
** At one point in the series, Misato thinks that buying the EVA pilots a steak dinner would bankrupt her. Realising this they take her to a fast food place instead. Becomes FridgeLogic when one realizes that she works for the most important and powerful organization in the world, has precisely ''two'' superiors - yet four steaks would wipe her out. If steak is ''that'' rare, is there '''anyone''' who can afford it?
* In ''Manga/{{Clover}}'', one character owns an organic cat but disguises it as a robot so people won't steal it.

* In Voltaire's ''[[ComicBook/ChiChian Chi-Chian]]'' series, there is a story of a blind pleasure-robot. Her eyes were stolen because they were made of the most valuable substance on the planet - pure wood. Yes, '''wood'''. [[MindScrew It's Chi-Chian]]. [[WhatDoYouMeanItWasntMadeOnDrugs Just go with it]].
* The vast majority, if not all, of food in ''ComicBook/JudgeDredd'' falls into one of three categories: Animals that we would not normally consider food like rat, as most domestic animals seem to be extinct, extremely mutated plants (this is the source of most ''meat'') that can grow in the toxic environment of cursed earth or made entirely of chemicals.
** [[Film/JudgeDredd "Eat recycled food. It's good for the environment, and okay for you!"]]

* An early example of this is in ''Film/SoylentGreen'', where one character is excited about having "hundred and fifty bucks a jar of strawberries."
* In ''Film/BladeRunner'', the planet's deteriorating condition has killed off most animals, causing people to keep synthetic pets. One can tell how prized they are by the fact that the Voigt-Kampf test scenarios, created to evoke an empathetic response, are mostly centered on animal cruelty.
* In Mamoru Oshii's ''Film/{{Avalon}}'', the wealthy (compared to the abject poverty of her fellow players) Ash feeds her dog quality food, as contrasted to the gruel that her peers survive on.
* ''Film/TheMatrix'' has elements of this, and ''all'' the food that isn't gruel is virtual. This is why, in ''Reloaded'', some Zionites give Neo bread as a sign of admiration. It's the equivalent of giving him [[MessianicArchetype gold, frankincense and myrrh]].
* In the distant galaxy of ''[[Film/KinDzaDza Kin-Dza-Dza]]'', one of the transplanted Earthlings discovers that the wooden matchsticks he's carrying in his pocket are actually the most valuable things in the system, as ''every last scrap of naturally-occurring organic or mineral material'' had long since been converted into one kind of fuel or another. Water is bought by the ''drop'', and food is made of '''plastic'''.
* In ''Film/{{Waterworld}}'', potted plants and the soil to grow them in are considered valuable trade goods, as are non-sea-derived materials such as paper.
* In ''Film/DemolitionMan'', society is entirely vegetarian. When they visit the 'scrap' society, he eagerly eats a hamburger. It's not beef... but at least it's not human. It's actually rat. He doesn't care and keeps on eating. He even says it's the best burger he's had in years. (Then again, it's the ''only'' burger he's had in years, having spent the last 30 of them in [[HumanPopsicle cryogenic stasis]])
* German sci-fi movie ''{{Sturzflieger}}''. At the end, the protagonists grow rich when they discover a store room full of chicks (not as in TheChick).
* Inverted in ''Film/{{Zombieland}}'', where the drive of one of the main characters is to find a stash of Twinkies. After all, plants still grow after a zombie apocalypse, but with the Hostess kitchen shut down, snack cakes become an endangered species.
* In ''Film/TheAdventuresOfPlutoNash'', the events of the film take place on the Moon. Certain items are hard to come by on the Moon and aren't cheap to have delivered from Earth, the most commonly-mentioned being wood (not the stuff used in cheap RealLife furniture, but actual wood). At one point, a mobster is mentioned by someone to have had a briefcase made of genuine alligator skin. Naturally, this immediately outed him as an Earther.

* ''Literature/DoAndroidsDreamOfElectricSheep'', the novella upon which ''Film/BladeRunner'' was based, goes into this trope in more detail than the film. Real animal pets are considered the ultimate status symbol, and new editions of a blue book are published listing each species's going rate. Many species are thought to be extinct. The main character owns an electric sheep, but conceals the fact that is artificial. At the end of the book, [[spoiler:he discovers a toad, thought to be extinct, and thus priceless, but it turns out to be artificial as well.]]
* Although the future depicted in the ''Literature/InDeath'' series is not especially dystopian, soy and vegetable imitation foods are very common, and it is a mark of Roarke's ImpossiblyCoolWealth that he always drinks real coffee, smokes real tobacco, and eats real beef. The coffee in particular is insanely expensive, and is made much of by Eve and her fellow cops.
* ''Literature/{{Schismatrix}}'' is set in a future founded by refugees of an ecological meltdown on Earth. Outside of cockroaches, most animals are extremely rare, and in certain places the same goes for food that isn't [[FutureFoodIsArtificial artificial]].
* Creator/ElizabethMoon's space opera series ''Literature/VattasWar''. With humanity scattered across space, the puppy Jim the stowaway finds is a mysterious novelty to most of the crew, though Jim, coming from a backwater world that relies on animal labor, knows what it is. Real food can be had but won't keep for long trips in space so it is a special treat supplemented by nutrition bars and [=MREs=]. When the main character's ship takes on refugees from other ships after a war breaks out, a snotty-ass captain makes a big deal about his personal stock of expensive raspberries being divvied out as rations.
** Oh, and the aforementioned dog (a Jack Russell?) ends up filling Jim's college fund when they arrive on a world where the local fauna has a tendency to kill dogs, making them rare and expensive. So they sell its sperm (in the same vein as selling racehorse sperm).
* In Creator/HarryHarrison's ''Literature/MakeRoomMakeRoom'' (which ''Film/SoylentGreen'' is based on) even soy-based faux steak is expensive and worth practically rioting over.
* Creator/SherriTepper's ''Beauty'' both plays this straight and subverts it. Part of the book deals with a dystopian future Earth run by "Fidipur", an agency created to "Feed the Poor" by using much of the Earth's biological productivity and advanced science to create very efficient food wafers that would seem unnatural to modern or premodern people. The population keeps growing and eventually all arable land is needed to make their strange wafers, so the last farms that produce vegetables for human consumption are shut down. A surprisingly long section of the book describes a documentary called "The Last Radish" and a random citizen is selected to have the honor of eating the last natural vegetable while the world watches. The trope is played straight in that natural food is considered very special and exclusive, but subverted in that the radish-eater gives the natural vegetable very poor marks in comparison to his regular ration of nutrition wafers.
* ''Literature/TheWarAgainstTheChtorr''. When the government wants to hire the luxury airship Hieronymus Bosch, they have to use chocolate (among other things like coffee, oil or gold) in payment as money is becoming increasingly valueless.
* In ''Literature/TheSagaOfRecluce'' books Mag'i of Cyador/Scion of Cyador by L.E. Modesitt, Jr., an indication that the Empire is in decline is the increasing rarity of coffee.
* Inverted in ''[[Literature/{{Emberverse}} Dies the Fire]]'' by Creator/SMStirling, when the protagonists have a long gripe session about all the great junk food they miss, now they've been reduced to growing food naturally.
* This trope is present throughout much of Creator/IsaacAsimov's fiction, although it's gone into more detail than usual in ''Literature/TheCavesOfSteel''.
* Neal Stephenson's ''Literature/TheDiamondAge'', in which one of the phyles bases its entire economy on providing luxurious hand-made goods for the Neo-Victorian elite, while everything else is produced in matter compilers. The TitleDrop is that diamond is now one of the cheapest materials you can have (because, being the absolute simplest pattern of the most common solid atom - a lattice of carbon - it's the easiest thing your matter compiler can make) but ''glass'' is a luxury good.
* In ''Literature/TheMerchantsOfVenus'', rich people are wearing wood ''jewelry''.
* ''Literature/{{Neuromancer}}'' has a scene where Molly chastises Case for not eating his steak;
-->Jesus, gimme that. You know what this costs? They gotta raise a whole animal for years and then they kill it. This isn't vat stuff.
* ''Literature/WorldWarZ'' featured this when Arthur Sinclair was trying to negotiate with cattle ranchers to use their land to grow much-needed crops - they agreed only if their breeding stock remained untouched.
--> '''Arthur Sinclair''': "Tender, juicy steaks - can you imagine a better symbol for our artificial pre-war standard of living?"
** It's a point only because [[spoiler:the Solanum virus is fatal to all life, but only cause humans to turn into zombies. For anything else, it's just fatal and results in their flesh becoming unsafe for human consumption.]]
* In the [[Literature/VorkosiganSaga Vorkosigan universe]], this applies to some planets but not others. The heroine of the first two novels is from Beta Colony, a high tech but barely habitable desert planet, who winds up on on Barrayar, which has a breathable atmosphere, lots of running water, and trees all over the place, but is also socially and politically and to some extent technologically backwards on account of [[LostColony having been cut off from contact with the rest of the galaxy for a few centuries]] (only ending a couple of generations before the action of the books). She has to remind herself that on ''this'' planet things like wooden buildings and furniture mean poverty, not wealth.
* Played with in several StarWars ExpandedUniverse novels:
** In the ''X-Wing'' novels, the heroes visit the home of Biggs' father on [[SingleBiomePlanet Tatooine]]. He's a very wealthy moisture farmer and shows this by having a study with imported hardwood and sculptures with ''running water''.
** In another novel, it is mentioned that one of the greatest status symbols on the CityPlanet Coruscant is unused empty space.
* An interesting non-sci-fi example appears in Erich Maria Remarque's famous novel ''Literature/AllQuietOnTheWesternFront''. One of the soldiers in the story is overjoyed when he discovers ''an actual cherry tree in bloom'' during a march across the countryside to a new position. Since he (and the others) have spent entire weeks on the western front of UsefulNotes/WorldWarI, this is hardly surprising - the frontline being [[{{CorpseLand}} a lifeless war-torn muddy wasteland]] and all. [[TruthInTelevision And the less said about the rations given to soldiers in the latter parts of the war, the better...]]
* The MacGuffin in ''Literature/TheWindupGirl'' is a seedbank of natural plants; all plants in the outside world have been displaced by their more aggressive genetically engineered counterparts.
* In ''TheRoar'', due to the Animal Plague and the poor being forced into the northern parts of the world [[spoiler:while the richest people in the world live in mansions in forests]] natural-grown food such as strawberries and even artificially produced meat were considered food only for the rich in the North.
** Not to mention [[spoiler:the animal plague never happened. It was made by the government and the rich to scare everybody behind The Wall so they could have the forests and wildlife all to themselves.]]
* In ''{{Literature/Quozl}}'' by Creator/AlanDeanFoster, the titular aliens live aboard a [[GenerationShips Generation Ship]], and as such value wood considerably. It's not rare on the planets they have colonized, but space travel takes decades and growing trees in such an environment is impractical. They have elaborate public wooden sculptures, but the most wood an individual Quozl is likely to own is a small ring.
* A variant happens in ''Literature/{{Dune}}'' when a Fremen representative spits on the table during their first meeting with House Atreides. One of the protagonists gets angry and tries to draw a weapon to repay the "slight", but Duke Leto stops him - the act was a gesture of respect, as water is incredibly scarce on Arrakis.
** Leto's horrified to learn of the many demeaning customs his rivals the Harkonnens instituted during their rule of Arrakis based on ''[[ConspicuousConsumption wasting water]]''; upon entering the palace, guests ceremonially splash water on the floor for servants to mop up with towels, who then sell the squeezings to the poor. They planted date palms everywhere, then put up ''DeflectorShields'' to keep peasants from eating the dates.
--->'''Yueh''': One date palm requires forty liters of water a day. A man requires but eight liters. A palm, then, equals five men.
*** Some of Leto's first rulings upon taking residence are to have the palms removed and for free water rations to be available to anyone who calls on the holding during mealtimes. It's a [[GenreSavvy pragmatic]] move on his part as well as humanitarian, as it ensures that the people of Arrakis support his rule.
--->''How typical of a Harkonnen fief'', the Duke thought. ''Every degradation of the spirit that can be conceived.''
* In Creator/SergeyLukyanenko's ''Literature/LineOfDelirium'', spinach now has to be grown in absolutely sterile environments and is only available to the rich. This happened after human counter-intelligence agencies successfully "convinced" the [[MechanicalLifeforms Meklar]] that spinach was absolutely essential to human metabolism. The Meklar devoted large amounts of resources to develop a species-crossing retrovirus lethal to spinach and to deploy bomber fleets all across human space. Devastating losses in those fleets and the utter failure of the plan shocked the Meklar into a peace treaty, though.
* Joe Kimball's novel ''Timecaster'' does this without the environmental-degradation angle. It is set in a future "green utopia" in which every available surface is covered with growing plants -- virtually all of which are ultimately rendered into either food or much-needed biofuel. Making durable goods or luxury consumables out of natural materials is seen as wasteful; therefore, wooden furniture is a sign of decadent wealth while paper and drinkable alcohol are against the law.
* In Creator/LarryNiven's ''Saturn's Race'', the protagonist eats real meat in the insanely rich refuge of Xanadu and comments on how well-crafted this soymeat is. When she is informed that it is the real thing, she briefly considers whether she should be disgusted by the idea, but then decides to just treat it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
* The People in the ''Literature/ArtemisFowl'' series inhabit an underground civilization and seem to subsist mostly on foods preceded with ''sim-'' and things you can grow underground (like fungal goods). Sustainable and organic, but clearly not quite the same as surface food. (Not that they'd set up systems to get food from human farming, because of the pesticides.) The logical extension of this includes things like high-stakes seafood smuggling.
* In ''[[Literature/TheNightsDawnTrilogy The Naked God]]'', one character proudly shows off his 20th-century lava lamp, now a priceless and beautiful antique instead of a tacky room decoration.
* In ''Literature/{{Honorverse}}'' this is played on a more meta scale — food is, for the most part, neither scarce nor artificial, but the peculiarities of the hundreds of different biospheres, their interplay with the human-brought species, not to mentions various genetic tweaks made to them so they may prosper in their new homes, make sure that some commodities will pretty much ''always'' remain rare and coveted. For example, the genuine Terran whiskey is considered a rare and expensive treat even on Manticore (which is [[PortalNetwork one jump]] and three days away from the Earth), and while celery is widespread and largely consistent over the many inhabited worlds, only a Sphinxian one contains the "[[PsychicPowers telepacy vitamin]]" coveted by the native sentient species. The 'cats actually have the other, native source of that, but the celery is just much ''tastier''.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Kaylee eating a strawberry in the ''{{Series/Firefly}}'' pilot. It was [[EroticEating orgasmic]].
** Later Jayne buys a bushel of apples and everybody reacts to this as an amazing treat and question his motives. Simon mentions that the food on a spaceship is considerably worse than planetside, but he ''is'' a Core-worlder, and isn't used to how Rim worlds don't have quality food. The apples remind Mal and Zoe of a rather nasty war story; during the Unification War, a favored tactic of Alliance soldiers was to leave fresh fruit lying around - with pressure-triggered ''grenades'' hidden inside.
--->'''Zoe''': Cap’n said wait, but they were so hungry… Don’t make much noise, just little pops and there’s three guys that kinda just…end at the rib cage.
** And the goods in the pilot episode seemed to be gold bars at first, but they were eventually revealed to be food wrapped in gold-colored foil.
*** This may be less of an SF trope nod and more of a reference to historical piracy and smuggling. In the golden age of sail, for instance, molasses was probably the most common booty cargo.
** Another easy to miss example is the apple-peeling machine on Badger's desk in the pilot. On first glance it's just a weird instrument, but in the light of this trope and Badger's character, [[FridgeBrilliance it becomes apparent that it's one of his ways to demonstrate his higher status]].
* In an inorganic variant, a bandit chieftain in the story ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS17E3TheCreatureFromThePit The Creature from the Pit]]'' from the original series of ''Series/DoctorWho'' was once seen to wax rhapsodic about the amazing treasures his group has stolen: precious items of iron, zinc, and even ''nickel!'' Needless to say, this scene takes place on a metal-poor planet, where only members of the elite [[spoiler: who got them by robbing and betraying an inoffensive alien ambassador]] can boast such prizes.
** Not to mention his FamousLastWords after being stabbed: "Tempered that really...tempered steel?"
** In ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS15E4TheSunMakers The SunMakers]]'', Gatherer Hade is shown to be one of the richest members of the evil company that controls a dystopian society on Pluto by his having a desk made of real mahogany. The member of the oppressed underclass who admires it has only seen a picture of a tree, and even the Gatherer himself mispronounces it "ma-ho-''ga''-ny". Later, he offers the Doctor a raspberry leaf as a rare treat.
* The environment is fine in ''Series/BabylonFive'', but space travel is still expensive and the eponymous space station is too far from Earth to ship much food out. They've got a positively huge hydroponic farm, but it only grows "essential foods" and is geared towards providing a nutritionally complete diet, rather than a tasty and varied one... though said diet seems to include oranges and nectarines, and Takashima managed to sneak in a few coffee plants under the radar (later taken over by Ivanova).
** Even for the command staff, a shipment of real eggs is seen as an amazing luxury. Steak is similarly rare, though at one point the doctor fudges some paperwork to have a couple brought in after losing a bet with Garibaldi. An alien meat-based product called "spoo" is available, though it is extremely expensive and, to a human palate, not particularly good.
** In space, showers are sonic; Captain Sheridan raves about the fact that his quarters have a water-based shower, which was not the case on the warship he commanded previously.
** The price and difficulty of importing foods is highlighted in one second-season episode when Garibaldi tries to obtain certain Italian ingredients (olive oil, garlic, butter and anchovies) for a [[YourFavorite birthday treat]].
* A deleted scene in ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}'' mentions that the meat locker is the most heavily guarded area on a spaceship because the last remaining steaks, burger, fritters, etc, in the universe are there. Later in the series we see the fleet is reduced to eating algae-derived food, and fruit and cigars are valuable black market commodities.
* ''Series/StargateSG1'' has an odd example. A BigEater Goa'uld is unfamiliar with and can easily be bribed by foods he's never heard of... like chicken and turkey. We don't know much about the ecology of most planets in the galaxy, but apparently the TransplantedHumans that make up 90 percent of all aliens didn't take any fowl with them.
-->'''Nerus:''' And this seedless watermelon--how do you get the seeds out?\\
'''Landry:''' Sorry, state secret.
* In the second episode of ''Series/BlackMirror'' '''all''' physical items are a sign of opulence. The every day man can only purchase digital goods for his virtual avatar and the food is all grown in a lab. When the main character manages to become a famous TV star he splashes out and buys a real wooden penguin.
* Eobard Thawne mentions in the season 1 finale of '"Series/TheFlash2014'' that, in the 22nd century, cows have become extinct, which explain his love of burgers in the 21st century.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' real food, as with everything, is distributed according to security clearance. Infrareds get nothing, Reds get real food as a reward, and so on up; it isn't until Blue that a clone gets nothing but real food.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'', the in-character "shadowtalk" interspersed through the sourcebooks occasionally contains remarks like "I've never once had a real steak". Everyone but the ultra-rich evidently lives on cultured fungal protein and krill. Synthetic leather and tobacco products are also standard, as is "soycaf" instead of coffee.
** Inadvertently gets a laugh in the ''Tir Tairngire'' sourcebook, also from TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}, when it's mentioned that the elves have somehow re-created extinct species for their wilderness areas. It's funny in that both of the named species, grizzly bears and gray wolves, are not only still alive and well today ''without'' any magical or cloning assistance, but they would have had to go extinct, all over the world and also in captivity, in ''less than a decade'' after the supplement was published, in order to meet the timeline suggested for their "extinction".
*** Also, depending on wording, it's unlikely that the [[TaxonomicTermConfusion species]] ''Canis lupus'' ever went extinct in captivity, unless the setting is also completely devoid of ''dogs,'' since technically domestic dogs are a subspecies of gray wolves. (To be fair, the reclassification of ''Canis familiaris'' was fairly recent, and after thousands of generations of human-controlled breeding, dogs no longer look or act much like their wild cousins. Still, they are interfertile and are currently considered the same species.)
** Taken to the point that a RunningGag was to mention things like [[DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment Imitation Cheese Substitute.]]
** Fourth Edition cuts back ''considerably'' on this. Sure, your average shadowrunner is still subsisting mostly on soy, but you can still find most of what you'd see in RL 2011 in the shops of Shadowrun 2070 for not much more than the equivalent price. It's just that most shadowrunners are in a state of PerpetualPoverty.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Cyberpunk}} 2020'' plays this by the same lines as Shadowrun. Fresh food is an expensive commodity, only within the reach of rich people, and most of the population lives eating Kibble (a mass-produced food identical in all respects to the pet food that gives it its name) and what is basically artificial food not much better than Kibble. (Live) pets, short of wild animals, are expensive too, and one of the Chromebooks even features one corporation whose business follow the lines of pay-us-and-we-bring-you-the-animal-you-wants, even if it has to be stealing it from someone or worse.
* In past editions of ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' which include the Elemental Plane of Air in their cosmology, ''dirt'' is considered a valuable commodity on that plane, as it's made up of gas-filled space. Anyone who wants to build a floating castle must either import some dirt to build it on, or (more cheaply) use magic to solidifly a cloud for a foundation.
* In the ''TabletopGame/{{Mystara}}'' D&D supplement "The Shadow Elves", the subterranean elf city's grandest and most-admired public avenue is lined by a dozen or so small trees, grown from precious cuttings brought down from the legendary surface and provided for with fertilizer and artificial lights. Elven tourists come hundreds of miles through twisted tunnels and caverns just to see them.
* ''TabletopGame/EclipsePhase'' takes place after a hurried evacuation of Earth and colonization of the rest of the solar system. Naturally grown food, especially meat, is expensive due to the shortage of inhabitable space, but culture vats and [[MatterReplicator nanofabricators]] can produce substitutes that snobs ''insist'' they can detect - but it's compared to [[ modern-day wines.]] Now organic bodies, those are expensive because they take three years to grow and there's a lot of demand from the billions of {{Virtual Ghost}}s in storage, while most Synthmorphs can be printed out in a matter of hours.
* Depends on the planet in ''{{TabletopGame/Warhammer40000}}''. Most [[OneProductPlanet forge worlds]] have ruined their environments to the point that life barely exists outside controlled habitats and food needs importing, while hive worlds might have decent environments but the average citizen will never see the outside and live entirely on artificial foods. Agricultural worlds, on the other hand, can invert this trope hard, with many having abundant plant and animal life but very little in the way of technological goods (although those that are close to other planets or particularly rich might avoid this).

* In the Video Game tie-in to the ''Film/BladeRunner'' movie, the player character Ray has an artificial dog named Maggie you can play with [[spoiler:GenreSavvy players probably realize it'll lead to a heart-rending PlayerPunch later]], and the crime Ray was initially investigating involves the slaughter of several real animals including a rare tiger. [[spoiler: Then it gets complicated: the shop owner was selling fakes but fudging records and tests so they were considered 'true' (and more expensive) animals]]
** It's noted in the game and novel that animal life is held in higher regard then humans -- considering Crystal's reaction is nearly identical to walking in on a murder of a child.
** There is also a point in the game where [=McCoy=] mentions that cheese is a black market item, who's illegal distribution evidently comes with jail time.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Xenosaga}}'', we view one of Ziggy's memories in which he gives his son a robotic dog as a pet, as he was regretfully unable to obtain a real one.
* ''VideoGame/{{BioShock|1}}''. The city of Rapture, being entirely underwater, does not contain enough farmland for growing nonessential crops or raising cattle, so real beef and tobacco aren't available except through Fontaine's smuggling operation. Somehow, Rapture's scientists have managed to synthesize both from what they do have on hand, which seems to be mainly sea life, and it's implied that customers generally don't mind.
** One of the splicers complains about the quality of a steak she's found, though given the setting it's probably rotten by that point.
* Since the sun will turn anyone without proper protection into stone in ''VideoGame/DigitalDevilSaga 2,'' this makes any plants you find quite valuable.
* In ''VideoGame/RiseOfTheDragon'', set in the distant future, Blade Hunter must calm down his angry girlfriend by giving her flowers. To do this, he spends $200 plus tax to buy "Organically Grown Roses."
* ''VideoGame/ShadowrunReturns'': In ''Dragonfall'' Altug sells real Turkish coffee for 50 nuyen a pop at his café, as opposed to soykaf at 5 nuyen. He explains that it is a special blend which even in a time when "real" coffee was everywhere would be considered a rare delicacy.

* ''Webcomic/{{Freefall}}'' takes place on a planet being {{Terraform}}ed, so organics are worth considerably more than [[WorthlessYellowRocks gold or diamonds]].
** Sam once remarks that if interstellar travel weren't so expensive he could become very rich [[ trading trash between Jean and his primitive homeworld]].

[[folder:Real Life]]
* RealLife plays this completely straight with synthetic gemstones, which are completely identical to the natural stone chemically and have the same optics. One can buy several pounds of artificially created sapphires, emeralds, or rubies for the price of a single carat of the natural stuff, even though the natural one will actually be cloudier and less brilliant than the synthetics. Averted with diamonds, which have to be formed under such titanic pressure and heat that manufacturing them is highly expensive, thus synthetic diamonds cost about as much as natural ones.
** Although, in reality, natural diamonds are in fact quite common. Their high price is actually a combination of an extremely successful marketing campaign, as well as diamond companies purposely only releasing a relatively small number each year in order to make them ''seem'' rare.
* Free range or organic foods tend to be more expensive and luxurious then the industrial kind. Much like the gemstones above, this is almost entirely marketing.
* Wild-caught fish and shellfish and tend to be far more expensive than farmed. Same applies for hunted game, which is more expensive than farmed.
** Seafood in general used to be considered poor-people food (because of the lack of refrigeration and fast goods delivery, fish can only be sold locally, and thus do not command high prices), the Catholic Church specifically do not consider seafood to be "meat" so that poor people would have something to eat on "meatless" Fridays and during Lent.
* Russian sturgeon caviar. Some centuries ago, it was just a byproduct of fishing. Now it is VERY expensive to the point of [[BlackMarketProduce being illegal and restricted]], because sturgeon is close to extinction.
** There is an old Polish recipe for sauerkraut and caviar. That's right, people used caviar to ''season sauerkraut!''
** Not quite on the same level as caviar, but the demand that the employer not feed them salmon more than two times a week was fairly standard for hired hands seeking employment in XVIII century Russia.
** When your great grandma was young fried sturgeon and catfish were listed as a cheap Friday dinner for seasonal labourers. Now good luck finding any of them in other place than the most expensive fish shops.
** Before XIX century lobsters, oysters and basically all kind of seafood used to be cheap meal for inhabitants of the coasts. Development of the railway allowed to import them fresh to inland cities where they acquired status of high-class gourment food.
** They say that UsefulNotes/LouisXIV used to have a cavalry regiment meant exclusively for bringing him fresh fish.
* In Creator/JackLondon's stories set in the Yukon, salmon is mentioned repeatedly as mainly fit to be sled dog food, while actual settlers and Gold Rush pioneers pay exorbitant prices in hard-dug gold for any non-locally manufactured food such as eggs.
* In the U.S. lobster used to be a poor man's food ([[ see The Other Wiki]]) until it was possible to ship it to urban centres, where it became a delicacy. Cod and red-fleshed bluefin tuna are going the same way nowadays due to overfishing.
** Back in the 19th century there was a rule in most prisons not to feed lobster to the prisoners more than a few times a week, since it was considered cruel towards them.
** Although, being the 19th century, this probably refers to the [[TheAreasOfMyExpertise furry old lobster]] rather than the one we know now.
* Cod is already a delicacy in Brazil, where it is highly sought after for traditional portuguese dishes. Decades ago, it was the cheapest meat available.
** Cod stocks over the world are actually on the verge of collapse due to the ''heavy'' overfishing, so most mass-market cod-based dishes have long been adapted to other, cheaper and more abundant whitefish species, such as pollock, and if you want to have the real stuff you're usually in for the heavy markup.
* Speaking of tuna, sushi and sashimi used to be the Japanese equivalent of fast food (fish was originally transported in vinegared rice as a preservative, and poor people buying the go0ds would end up eating the rice as well as the fish). Nowadays, sushi is considered fancy food, and ''auctions'' are held for who gets to eat bluefin tuna sashimi first, even reaching ''[[ $1.7 million!]]''
* Similarly, oysters were once the food of the poor in Britain (though still considered a treat). Noah Claypole the "charity-boy" in Literature/OliverTwist eats a large quantity.
* In the first year or two after a new species or strain of livestock comes into demand, they can be temporarily hard to come by, as their owners prefer breeding their stock for future profits over selling them now. For example, when llamas first began to see use as sheep-guards and environmentally-friendly pack animals in the United States, only gelded males were available for these purposes: breeding animals cost far too much. Ditto for exotic pets.
* Thomas Edison once declared that, "We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles", and he saw that future coming thanks in part to his [[UsefulNotes/NikolaTesla arch-rival]]. Whilst the latter half of this boast hasn't entirely come true (generic candles are fairly cheap), it is indeed much cheaper to run a light-bulb that produces the same amount of light as an equivalent candle for the same amount of time as that candle can burn for, even if you factor in the cost of the globe itself (as it can probably continue alongside hundreds of successive candles before burning out).
** There are candles and candles. Generic ones made with paraffin wax are cheap and readily available, but those made with beeswax are considered fancy decorations and considerably more expensive. You'd have to be ''really'' poor not to be able to get into a store and buy one if the desire to have it suddenly gripped you, but you won't find them used for emergency illumination in the average low-wage worker's home.
* As the standard of living in the Developed world has risen since the middle of the 20th century the cost of labor intensive products have risen dramatically to support this standard, while technology improvement has made the cost of products that can be mass produced fall dramatically. The result is that products once made by skilled craftsmen are now virtually unobtainable, while anything produced by machines are often so cheap to be completely disposable.
** One of the handful of exceptions to this is clothing. Cloth is an unpredictable material compared to metal and plastic, so sewing machines still require human operators. However, those operators don't have to be highly trained or educated to produce cheap, low-quality products quickly. This is why very little garment manufacture happens in the developed world.
* For babies in the developed world, breast milk. It means the mother is either rich enough not to work outside the home or has a good job that gives her maternity leave.
* And on the other side of the trope: Vitamin enriched puffed soy cakes? [=USD=]4.50 for a 6"x14" cylinder. Available flavors include cheese, bacon, chocolate, and probably half a dozen others (including something that probably shouldn't have used green food colouring [[[ShoutOut ?]]])
* An inversion is the price of meat. Until relatively recently, meat, especially red meat, was something most people would only have rarely if their farm animals died (it was more worthwhile to keep the animals alive for milk, eggs, wool to be produced consistently). Only the wealthy could afford to eat meat regularly, until mass farming became common lowering the price of meat, although the price may go up again as demand increases.
** In Literature/AnneOfGreenGables chicken were served as a special meal for important guests and "eating chicken with salad everyday" was a part of imagined upper-class life listed among diamond jewellery and silk dresses.
** UsefulNotes/HerbertHoover used "A chicken in every pot" ("and a car in every garage") as an advertising slogan in the 1928 U.S. Presidential campaign. Rather ironic, considering [[TheGreatDepression how the Hoover administration turned out.]] The original sentiment goes all the way back to Henry IV of France, who wrote "I want there to be no peasant in my realm so poor that he will not have a chicken in his pot on Sunday"
* Order a soda at most any restaurant in the U.S., and you can have it refilled as much as you like at no extra charge. The stuff is so cheap and profit margins so high that they can afford to practically give it away. On the other hand, ask for something that's reasonably healthy and natural, like fruit juice, and you'll pay for every glass.
** Well, those sodas come from soda fountains, which simply carbonate tap water and then mix in some small amount of concentrated syrup, while the juices (even if it is made with concentrated juice) is delivered in their own container. The price for delivery and storage is such much higher (per serving) for anything but sodas.
** Also, this is basically a US-only policy (which generally have very low food prices anyway, globally-wise), the other countries usually cannot pass the chance to charge a steep markup for what is basically a sugared water, and outside of the States you can mainly encounter this in a US-originated restaurants that simply carried this tradition with them, or in places trying to invoke an American feel, where the owners believe that the atmosphere is more important.
* And the reason ''why'' soda is so cheap in the US, along with candies and other sweets, is because of the invention of high-fructose corn syrup as a substitute for cane sugar that can be produced economically using the the vast (and heavily subsidized) corn crop of the American breadbasket. In the US, cane sugar is a rarity found only in organic and other specialty foods and drinks, thanks to competition from high-fructose corn syrup, a relative lack of places in the US where sugar can be grown[[note]]The lower Mississippi Valley, the Gulf Coast, Florida, and Hawaii[[/note]], and import tariffs designed to protect American sugar producers.
* [[ "Food deserts"]] in the developed world; neighborhoods without access to fresh food, usually in very poor, densely-populated urban areas. Grocery stores in wealthier neighborhoods or suburbs can stock fresh produce, meat, and unprocessed staples. The convenience stores that may be the only "grocery" in walking distance (those living in that area are often too poor to own a car) will favor processed, shelf-stable "food" that offers calories and little else. What little fresh food they have will be under a steep markup.
** Again, this heavily varies with the level of [[WrongSideOfTheTracks urban segregation]] in the larger world, with many countries either not having it to the same degree, with the rich and the poor rubbing shoulders every day, or having functional public transport systems that allow the poor to affordably access the wider markets.
* The coffee plantations in South America and Africa are known for producing some of the best coffee beans in the world, but often the farmers can only afford to drink cheap instant coffee. This also applies in the developed world. Most coffee drinkers find that pre-ground, mass produced coffee is cheaper than fresh coffee beans from local roasters roasted in small batches. The latter is mostly the province of connoisseurs, with a few diehards experimenting with home roasting, something that also used to be routine prior to the development of mass-produced coffee in the 19th century.