Libertarian economists have an essay floating around the web called "The pencil". It describes all the things and processes that go into the making of a pencil. It's a way of celebrating the free market--Adam Smith's invisible hand coordinates the efforts of people on all the continents to bring forth an ordinary no. 2 pencil
Just read the book: "Twinkie, Deconstructed", which does the same sort of thing for the Twinkie. It's an interesting read, though I got lost at times amidst all the chemicals. The writer isn't a Michael Pollan for style, or for bias against the agri-business-industrial system that provides our processed foods.
What's amazing, and a little disturbing given the recent execution of the top regulator for taking bribes, is the number of chemicals that originate in Chinese plants. Apparently, they do a good job competing in this area--perhaps because the value per pound is so very high. I'm waiting for the conservatives who raised a fuss during the Clinton Administration about Hutchison-Whampoa taking operating facilities in the Panama Canal to realize the insidious invasion taking place on the shelves of grocery stores.