This chapter outlines the sense in which food should be understood as a need and as a public good. It explores the conflicts in the moral economies of the new market order and the older traditions that recognised claims of necessity. The chapter examines appeal to common neediness that underpins the egalitarian traditions of mutual aid and the complex relations these traditions had to modern welfare provision. It turns to Marx’s discussion of the commons and its continuing influence on more defences of the commons. The moral economy of solidarity and mutual aid has an ambivalent relationship to more forms of welfare provision. Adam Smith’s defence of the moral economy of the market based on the art of social forgetting contrasts with the very different response to the facts of human neediness and dependence among those whose conditions made them more conscious of the ubiquity of human vulnerability.