Supplement, nutritional, holiday; 1 each

Food baskets from the engineering department

A few years ago I was working in an engineering office as the holidays approached. One day we got a memo that said, in paraphrase,

At this festive season we are again distributing food baskets to the needy. Rather than bringing in whatever food you want to donate, we ask that you donate the money you would have spent. We will use this to purchase a nutritionally optimal selection of food that will then be distributed equitably.

So yes, engineers really are like that. But after all, what is the alternative? Do you want a sub-optimal selection of food? Is it about feeding the hungry, or feeling good?

The Gleaners

The Biblical injunction was to leave some for the gleaners. The modern approach would be to pick the field clean and give 8.6% to an umbrella organization which would distribute the wheat to the poor. The chairman of the umbrella organization would make a six-figure salary. Does this just lead (after hundreds of years of misery) to fat poor people? Here I would insert a picture of obese people in back-braces waddling through a wheat field, stuffing grain in their mouths. Fortunately for us all, I have no skill with a paintbrush.

Now clearly I am being kind of snarky, and taking some pot-shots at organized charity and big government. To be fair, it is this organizational impulse that allows us to feed so many people so well that world-wide more people are fat than hungry. Not that we gain nothing from the structure of modern society; We gain a lot. My question is, “What do we loose?”