Sandwiches against Madness

By Michael Gordon on July 15, 2012 4:50 PM

I’m in London before heading tomorrow to Oxford for a colloquium on social entrepreneurship. I stopped at a British food shop, Prêt a Manager, which offers advice about addressing hunger that is as eloquent as any paper I’m likely to read at the Oxford gathering. Simple advice of the kind we’d all be much better off following. 

Prêt a Manager is a chain of shops that serve sandwiches, salads, and coffee; plus porridge and a few other items that seem very English. The ingredients they use are fresh; the food is chemical- and additive-free. And it’s tasty. All good things.
The walls have a bunch of sayings you might find in a yoga studio: “To feel full of life, don’t eat too much, don’t eat too little.” And other things about what (not) to put in our bodies. This all might seem too new age-y, but their napkin tells a different, very practical story:
At the end of each day we give our unsold sandwiches and salads to local charities and shelters working with the homeless. We don’t do this because we’re “nice people.” We do this because throwing good food (and hard work) in the bin is madness.”
We’re in an age of madness, don’t you think, where simple truths are getting drowned out by loud voices with tons of money and by all-“facts”-deserve-an-equal-airing news coverage?
Sometimes it’s not so hard to see who needs help and how we can help them. When we see this, throwing these ideas in the bin is just madness.

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