Abel's Diner, in Garden Ridge, a suburb just up I-35 from San Antonio, is a bustling place at lunch time. It's good enough to be full throughout the middle of the day, even though it's hard to get to (you have to go a couple of miles past it on the freeway, then double back on the access road almost all the way); and good enough to draw me in, all the way from 281 and Thousand Oaks, about 15 miles away.
I was sitting there with my friend Rick, and overheard the waitress ask the man at the next table whether he wanted white or dark meat for his fried chicken. That reminded me of a report I'd heard on the radio, maybe two years ago, about how dark meat commands a premium price in Asia, the way white meat does here. And that got me to thinking about starving people in Africa.
The difficulty of life in sub-Saharan Africa has been a recurring theme in my head ever since I got a glimpse of it for myself, a year or two ago. Poverty, hunger, corruption and marauding are the Four Horsemen of their particular apocalypse, and all the mealy-mouthed good intentions of the West (and now, the East) for the past hundred years have done little to stanch the flow of misery. Prosperity, where it exists at all, seems limited to exclusive elites -- the white farmers in the Union of South Africa and Rhodesia, when those entities existed; corrupt politicians and their cronies; bureaucrats who feed on the crumbs that fall from the table of the powerful; warlords and their minions; and a few businessmen who have insinuated themselves between, on the one hand, the wealthy foreign companies who want to appear magnanimous to their home audiences, and, on the other, said corrupt politicians and warlords.
And then for some reason I thought, What would happen if somebody plopped a gigantic chicken farm down in some poor spot in Africa?