How to Make Everything is a YouTube series that describes its mission like so: “to explore everyday things many of us take for granted.” The show finds its host, Andy George, exploring how to make everyday items—a suit, a tool, a Japanese calligraphy brush—from scratch. It finds him being, in other words, a little bit MacGyver, a little bit supply-chain economist, and a little bit philosopher.
The latest episode of How to Make Everything finds George applying his global-trade-networked approach to that most basic and yet most profound of American food items: the sandwich. In this case, a chicken sandwich with cheese. Making the sandwich requires George to, among other things: grow his own vegetables, milk a cow (for the cheese), evaporate ocean water (for the salt), collect his own honey, grow and then grind his own wheat, preserve his own pickles, and slaughter/de-feather/butcher/cook a chicken. The whole thing takes six months, George says, to put together. It ends up costing him $1,500.
The result of all that was a lesson in the complex nature of even the simplest foods, in how easy it can be, in a world of Walmarts, to take our conveniences for granted.
But the result was also, though, an actual, edible food item. So how does a sandwich that costs the amount of a used car end up tasting?