If I eat TV dinners and cheap soup and spend my time programming Bible translation software (which I do), then I can work a long time on the money I earned programming computers for pay 20 years ago, when I ate better but still spent my time more productively than growing and preparing food. I tried growing my own garden, but gave it up when it consumed a couple hours a day picking worms off tomatoes I can otherwise buy all year around for $1/week. It's not a good use of my time. Different people will of course have different multipliers. If God had made me a plumber or a truck driver or a school teacher, I might earn a little less per hour than I do as a programmer, but still far more than the cost of buying factory food instead of making it myself in the same time I would otherwise be working.
Multiply that times the entire country, and you have a huge amount of labor to be invested in all kinds of activities, which creates wealth exponentially, with enough left over for us to be God's benefactors to the world, in food and technology as well as discipleship. We can even afford to let some people grow organic food (at a high price) and occasionally prepare things from scratch, if that makes them feel good about thanking God for it.
I have also spent too much time writing this letter. I need to get back to the work God gave me to do—and to thanking him for produce farms in California and truckers who drive it 2,000 miles to the local grocery stores, and for factory farms in Iowa and Arkansas that package up processed foods that I can eat so inexpensively, and for the many people with the time and money who study God's Word and preach the gospel here and elsewhere.
Tom Pittman has a PhD in Information Science from the University of California at Santa Cruz.