Before my Great Aunt Esther died, she lived in downtown
Minneapolis in poverty. Oddly, this is not embarrassing to my proper,
upper-middle-class, Christian family. Esther simply continued to live as she
had when her husband, my grandmother's brother Ludwig, was alive.
When I was in southern Ethiopia in 1994, I watched truck after truck roll into a community with food aid. I asked a farmer if the harvest had been bad. He told me he had an abundant harvest of tomatoes and onions—cash crops. Because of all the food aid they were receiving, he could use his land to make some extra cash—and his family would eat wheat from America. That same year I could purchase corn oil at the local grocery store—in big metal containers labeled "A gift from the people of America." I resented having to pay for what was clearly intended to be food aid.