A PB&J is an exquisite example of how a simple snack belies a global network of humans and technology that operates with mystifying accuracy to deliver our food every day.
A few years ago, I took a break from writing and headed across the street for a snack. A peanut butter and jam on toasted whole wheat bread is my favorite, comforting, reassuring snack food. An espresso chaser makes the snack both calming and exhilarating — a good combination when I’m searching for a new gear in the writing process.
Always finding complexity in the nearest simplicity, I found the PB&J the nearest object of my obsessive nature to figure stuff out. I was down on my writing that day, thinking food logistics was hardly a story that would envelop a reader in mystery, suspense and joy.
A PB&J is an exquisite example of how a simple snack belies a global network of humans and technology that operates with mystifying accuracy (most of the time) to deliver our food every day, in spite of trade sanctions, floods, labor strikes, crop failures, flat tires and fuel crises.
So, perhaps there’s an opportunity, after all, to tell a story about the seemingly mundane, industrial food supply chain that grabs readers at the start and holds them in suspense until the last page.
Going deeper, I imagined and then illustrated my PB&J’s story!
Since that day, I’ve been learning about the food supply chain and have bits and pieces of acquired knowledge squirreled away in digital files, in and off the Cloud, scrawled on bits of notepaper now lying at the bottom of my briefcase, underlined bits in books piled in towers around my office.
And, of course, I’m still writing, though it’s almost easier to acquire another amazing scribble of knowledge than to put down a few words that tell a story. Every time I hit a logjam, I think of how it all began with a simple little PB&J sandwich, and suddenly, I’m headed somewhere interesting—or at least across the street for a snack.