“Magic without wizards”, or, why is your favorite bread on the shelf when you want it?

Consider merely the way that your favorite bread is always available, usually from many bakeries. And at the time you want. The bakery doesn’t know whether you will stop in on your way to work, during lunch, or after having dinner.

How can it be that several bakeries know to have your choice of bread available, whether sourdough loafs, whole wheat biscuits, rye rolls, croissants, or cranberry bagels? How did they know to order enough yeast, oil, and flour? How did they know what mix to bake before the sun came up?

How did the wholesalers know enough to deliver the right amount of flour to all the pizzerias, bakeries, and pastry shops?

How did the farmers know enough to plant the right amount of wheat, oats, barley, and rye last spring to harvest enough this fall to satisfy all those bakers?

Hmm. What could be getting all those people working together to make sure my favorite and your favorite bread is available when you or I want it?

Ponder these and many more questions just in terms of having bread on the shelf in this video, called “It’s a wonderful loaf:”

 

 

The answer of how all that happens is readily available for all who want to find it.

There is no central government office telling all the bakers, pizzerias, sandwich shops, trucking companies, granaries, farmers, and seed supplies how much to produce and to whom to deliver their product.

It is almost as if a wizard was telling everyone what to do. Or, there is a magic in the air.

Only there is no wizard. There is no National Bread Board telling everyone what to do. No one person anywhere knows anything more than how to run their own little tiny part of the economic world.

Yet there is some sort of ‘magic in the air.’ What could it be?

The concept you are looking for is called emergent order, which is the idea that people working together create a bottom-up pattern. It looks like something was intentionally designed by a central bureau, but that thing just developed on its own as a result of many people working together.

For more info, visit www.wonderfulloaf.org.

Video and poem from Russell Roberts.

(Cross-post from my other blog, Outrun Change.)

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