I, Sandwich

 

Surely all Ricochetois have read (or at least heard of) I, Pencil, Leonard Reed’s 1958 fable about the necessity of trade and how nobody could actually create a pencil on their own from scratch. If not, read it now at the above link.

Well, Reed was a lightweight. He merely talked about this principle. He never actually tried to make a pencil from scratch, all by himself. YouTuber Andy George puts Reed to shame. No, he didn’t try to make a pencil from scratch. He set out to make a simple chicken sandwich from scratch.

It took him 6 months and $1,500 to pull it off, and after all that the end product wasn’t even really that great a sandwich (“Six months of my life for not bad.”):

Also, even after six months and $1,500, he still had to cheat a little a lot. He didn’t raise the chicken himself, for example, though he did kill it.

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  1. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    What made the sandwich so expensive and time consuming?

    • #1
  2. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    Didn’t the pioneers make their own bread and survive? Is the point that a modern sandwich is hard to make from scratch?

    • #2
  3. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Think about the bread Dime. I often make my own (thanks Mama Toad!) but I buy the salt, the yeast, the sugar, the flour.

    Not in a million years could I come up with those ingredients on my own.

    • #3
  4. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    Annefy:Think about the bread Dime. I often make my own (thanks Mama Toad!) but I buy the salt, the yeast, the sugar, the flour.

    Not in a million years could I come up with those ingredients on my own.

    Sour dough is made without store bought yeast. Honey can take the place of sugar or fruit. Wheat can be grown and hand milled. I think Gandhi made his own salt from sea water. A wild animal can be killed for meat.

    I am am not disagreeing with the premise but trying to figure how people with almost no connection with society were able to do this stuff though in a rudimentary way.

    • #4
  5. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    I think that’s what the guy did – going by the preview where he collected sea salt and honey. And I assume he grew the wheat.

    The point is not that it’s impossible – the point is we’d all starve to death if we were relying on people like me to do it.

    • #5
  6. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    Annefy:I think that’s what the guy did – going by the preview where he collected sea salt and honey. And I assume he grew the wheat.

    The point is not that it’s impossible – the point is we’d all starve to death if we were relying on people like me to do it.

    You are being modest. I have no doubt that if your life depended on it food would be on the table. I wonder if we have someone on Ricochet that has lived off the land similar to this.

    • #6
  7. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    I had to live of the land when I was marred to my first wife pretty much.

    • #7
  8. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    You’d be wise not to count on it. I had an apartment and a roommate for 2 years before I got married and never bought anything other than Grape Nuts.

    I’m rather challenged with umpteen grocery stores in walking distance. Thank heavens my daughter’s house is also within walking distance. The relief of those who in the past relied on me is palpable.

    • #8
  9. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    PHCheese:I had to live of the land when I was marred to my first wife pretty much.

    Did you write “marred” on purpose? Many people have been marred in this way.

    • #9
  10. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    10 cents:Didn’t the pioneers make their own bread and survive? Is the point that a modern sandwich is hard to make from scratch?

    The pioneers didn’t go through all the effort just to make just one sandwich. They raised a lot of foodstuffs and then stored/preserved it over time AND sold the surplus.

    He ended up with a LOT of leftovers for just one person.

    (The pioneers also  traded a lot more than one might expect. Few of them were strictly self-sufficient.)

    • #10
  11. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    10 cents:

    Annefy:I think that’s what the guy did – going by the preview where he collected sea salt and honey. And I assume he grew the wheat.

    The point is not that it’s impossible – the point is we’d all starve to death if we were relying on people like me to do it.

    You are being modest. I have no doubt that if your life depended on it food would be on the table. I wonder if we have someone on Ricochet that has lived off the land similar to this.

    I have a friend in WY who is taking baby steps but she is finding it a lot more challenging than she anticipated.

    Her chickens are producing eggs but run away in terror whenever they see her while the goats have become pets.

    • #11
  12. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    10 cents:

    Annefy:Think about the bread Dime. I often make my own (thanks Mama Toad!) but I buy the salt, the yeast, the sugar, the flour.

    Not in a million years could I come up with those ingredients on my own.

    Sour dough is made without store bought yeast. Honey can take the place of sugar or fruit. Wheat can be grown and hand milled. I think Gandhi made his own salt from sea water. A wild animal can be killed for meat.

    I am am not disagreeing with the premise but trying to figure how people with almost no connection with society were able to do this stuff though in a rudimentary way.

    You’re assuming too much.  First, the pioneers and other folks who truly lived off the land very often traded for supplies like spices and salt.  There’s a great little PBS documentary about a guy who goes up to alaska and builds a cabin and then lives there for something like 30 years.  He had a plane that would come restock him on those sorts of supplies (yeast, etc…), and he brought metal tools with him (this sandwich guy is taking for granted the knife used to kill the chicken, spread the mayo/butter, the bowl in which he mixes the flour, the oven, etc…).

    The point is that free trade vastly improves our lives in ways that we cannot possibly imagine.  How, then, can we purport to control or regulate all of those moving parts in anything even approaching efficiency.  That is the point of Hayek’s Fatal Conceit.

    You’re correct to point out, say, that the Israelites may have survived on manna, or that American indians managed to live off the land.  Yeah, you can use all the parts of a buffalo to make tools and lard, and certain substitutions are ok…  but consider unleaven bread, or bread made from stone-ground flour without things like sugar/salt.  Those things may be possible, but they certainly aren’t optimal.

    The fact that we can even eat something like a chicken sandwich makes us akin to royalty in comparison to those who were truly living off the land.  And the point is that we have the free market to thank for that.  The second point is the same as Hayek’s – this guy (in the video) is simply pointing out many (but not nearly all) of the moving parts that we take for granted.  So think about when your government sets price controls on things like milk and cheese in order to run protection on some lobby … all those things are interconnected, and the market impact is far greater than many of us imagine.  More importantly, nobody in any sort of centralized government could possibly understand enough about the market to predict it, let alone guide or control it with anything even approaching the efficiency of our beloved “invisible hand.”

    • #12
  13. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    Ryan,

    A little heavy on the Hayek. I, Sandwich. is a little more Adam Smith.

    • #13
  14. Indaba Member
    Indaba
    @

    10 cents:

    Annefy:Think about the bread Dime. I often make my own (thanks Mama Toad!) but I buy the salt, the yeast, the sugar, the flour.

    Not in a million years could I come up with those ingredients on my own.

    Sour dough is made without store bought yeast. Honey can take the place of sugar or fruit. Wheat can be grown and hand milled. I think Gandhi made his own salt from sea water. A wild animal can be killed for meat.

    I am am not disagreeing with the premise but trying to figure how people with almost no connection with society were able to do this stuff though in a rudimentary way.

    women worked miracles…

    • #14
  15. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    Indaba:

    10 cents:

    Annefy:Think about the bread Dime. I often make my own (thanks Mama Toad!) but I buy the salt, the yeast, the sugar, the flour.

    Not in a million years could I come up with those ingredients on my own.

    Sour dough is made without store bought yeast. Honey can take the place of sugar or fruit. Wheat can be grown and hand milled. I think Gandhi made his own salt from sea water. A wild animal can be killed for meat.

    I am am not disagreeing with the premise but trying to figure how people with almost no connection with society were able to do this stuff though in a rudimentary way.

    women worked miracles…

    I laugh when people think that women were just staying at home through out history. On a farm the home and business intermixed. They put in long days and made houses homes. No one but an ignoramus would not know how much society owes to women. Do you know if they have written about all the tasks a women was expected to perform before the store bought culture?

    • #15
  16. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    Ryan,

    I am not assuming no trade but very limited trade. With a few items the pioneers did things. I wonder what the itemize costs of the ingredients were. What really added to the cost?

    • #16
  17. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Annefy:Think about the bread Dime. I often make my own (thanks Mama Toad!) but I buy the salt, the yeast, the sugar, the flour.

    Not in a million years could I come up with those ingredients on my own.

    I’d urge anyone who hasn’t, and who has kids, to grow, harvest, winnow, grind, and cook with wheat.

    I did once when I was 12 and I’ve never forgotten it. It’s just an amazing amount of work to produce an amazingly small amount of food. It really helps to show just what an amazing job capitalism does to make bread something that is so cheap and plentiful that you can take it for granted.

    • #17
  18. CandE Inactive
    CandE
    @CandE

    This was pretty cool.  Even better is his attempt to make a suit from scratch.  We just binge-watched the whole thing.  Fascinating!

    -E

    • #18
  19. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    James Of England:

    Annefy:Think about the bread Dime. I often make my own (thanks Mama Toad!) but I buy the salt, the yeast, the sugar, the flour.

    Not in a million years could I come up with those ingredients on my own.

    I’d urge anyone who hasn’t, and who has kids, to grow, harvest, winnow, grind, and cook with wheat.

    I did once when I was 12 and I’ve never forgotten it. It’s just an amazing amount of work to produce an amazingly small amount of food. It really helps to show just what an amazing job capitalism does to make bread something that is so cheap and plentiful that you can take it for granted.

    I am just reading a book that Roman soldiers would grind their own wheat with a packed around circular meal. It would produce flour for about 8 men.

    How did you grind your wheat when you were 12? What an amazing experience!

    Now with economy of scales and machines things can be done in quantities and speeds unimaginable.

    • #19
  20. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    10 cents: How did you grind your wheat when you were 12? What an amazing experience!

    We made little millstones, although I was asked for details a few years ago I realized I couldn’t remember them. I think we had millstones that were mostly done and that we polished them down, somewhat successfully (there was still a lot of grit in the bread). At every stage, we doubled the quantities.

    You can use a much smaller millstone face if you’re happy to grind small quantities at a time and spend a very long time doing it.

    • #20
  21. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    James Of England:

    10 cents: How did you grind your wheat when you were 12? What an amazing experience!

    We made little millstones, although I was asked for details a few years ago I realized I couldn’t remember them. I think we had millstones that were mostly done and that we polished them down, somewhat successfully (there was still a lot of grit in the bread). At every stage, we doubled the quantities.

    You can use a much smaller millstone face if you’re happy to grind small quantities at a time and spend a very long time doing it.

    This is similar to the picture I saw in the book for hand grinding. I take it in Latin America this is still used as a kitchen tool. It is called a metate.(Photo from Bing)

    stock-photo-metate-mexican-stone-utensil-used-for-grinding-corn-sauces-and-pastes-by-hand-58012813

    • #21
  22. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    I’m reading the “Outlander” series, and enjoying how a 20th-century woman makes out in the 18th with  fewer of the “modern conveniences”.  When they live in the backwoods of North Carolina, they make whiskey mostly to trade for goods they can’t make themselves.

    • #22
  23. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    RushBabe49:I’m reading the “Outlander” series, and enjoying how a 20th-century woman makes out in the 18th with fewer of the “modern conveniences”. When they live in the backwoods of North Carolina, they make whiskey mostly to trade for goods they can’t make themselves.

    Isn’t whiskey one of the easiest ways to transport grain? It does not take up much space in comparison.

    • #23
  24. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    10 cents:Ryan,

    I am not assuming no trade but very limited trade. With a few items the pioneers did things. I wonder what the itemize costs of the ingredients were. What really added to the cost?

    One might hypothesize that the biggest expense was airfare to the ocean for collecting seawater.

    One could suggest that even this was a cheat, unless he built and piloted the airplane himself.

    • #24
  25. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    One could point out the ways he deviated from the strict rules of I, Pencil by not making his own tools/energy.

    He didn’t forge his own knives, for example. He didn’t collect sand to make the glass for the jars he used to pickle the vegetables. I don’t believe he made his own vinegar. He cooked on an electric stove, which he didn’t make or generate the electricity for. He used an electric blender to grind the wheat into flour. Etc.

    My point isn’t to reduce the achievement. My point is that even with all this rampant cheating it still took six months.

    • #25
  26. Barkha Herman Inactive
    Barkha Herman
    @BarkhaHerman

    Watched the entire series,  and loved it.  I can use it in my Entrepreneurship classes.

    • #26
  27. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Whoops. Apparently, he anticipated the critique about not making his own tools, so he has another series where he makes his own tools:

    • #27
  28. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    Misthiocracy:Whoops. Apparently, he anticipated the critique about not making his own tools, so he has another series where he makes his own tools:

    How do you make your own tools without tools?

    • #28
  29. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    10 cents: How do you make your own tools without tools?

    Maybe we should be watching the series before critiquing them?

    ;-)

    • #29
  30. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    Misthiocracy:

    10 cents: How do you make your own tools without tools?

    Maybe we should be watching the series before critiquing them?

    ;-)

    Just asking the question not critiquing it. I think it is an interesting idea. What I think it might miss is the skill sets that pre-modern man had? They were genius with what they had to work with. I am using “man” generically.

    • #30
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