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A slice of bread


At a certain age you can’t help noticing that time is passing: it’s the first thing you see when you look into the mirror in the morning. But, by just looking away or letting the mirror get foggy, you can still escape from reality.


This gets different at the breakfast table.

When I was younger I used to have three solid organic sandwiches for breakfast. Nowadays my body’s not ready for that yet at breakfast time.  And so now, globally speaking, I eat one sandwich for breakfast.


Globally one sandwich?

Indeed. That sandwich connects me with the world.


Think about it:

I bought the bread at the health food store. They, on their turn, bought it from the organic bakery. The bakery purchased his flour and other materials from a wholesaler. The wholesale sources its materials from various farmers and other suppliers. Probably the wheat for my sandwich was grown in Germany or France.


So the shopkeeper, the baker, the wholesaler, suppliers and farmers  have all been busy to ensure that I could eat my sandwich. And there are others who also contributed in the process of 

making the bread that I ate: all the people who are working in my health food store, in the bakery, at the wholesaler and other suppliers, not to mention drivers, farmers  and even more others who helped in tilling the soil, sowing, harvesting and further processing.


If I'm going to look at it even more precisely, the circle of people who are, in one way or another, involved in this process, is even bigger.

In the shop where I bought it, the bread was lying on shelves, it was cut in a cutting machine and packed in a paper bag. The van in which the bread from the bakery was transported to the shop was made in France, the bakery is working with German ovens ...

The shelves, the cutting machine, paper bag, the van, the oven - how many people were involved in making these products?


My simple sandwich, only consisting of flour, water, salt and yeast, is the result of a real but ‘invisible’ collaboration of people from all over the world!

Usually we look at the economy the way I prefer to look in the mirror in the morning: vague and barely noticing what’s there to see.


If I look better, however, I see an incredibly inventive and complex process of collaboration that encompasses the entire world. A network of reciprocal dependence becomes visible: my sandwich comes from the daily efforts of a large circle of people. They are invisible to me, just as I am invisible  to them. They can only continue with their work when I continue to buy my bread; while I can only buy my bread when they will continue their work.


I hope they do. And I do hope that the price I pay for my bread makes their work possible in a dignified manner.


John Hogervorst


 |  2013 05 29  |  Permalink  |  Share


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