Monday, February 28, 2011

Raj Patel: Stuffed and Starved

I've done it- I've gone too far. I've now read the book on food that makes it no longer possible (at least for now) for me to evaluate my food choices. It's just too much. Michael Pollan says you can eat locally and ethically, but watch it. Jonathan Safran Foer says yeah, not really. And now that I've read Raj Patel's "Stuffed and Starved," I'm not sure really what to eat at all. Patel decries that food chain- not the "food chain"- that supplies the first world with our food. I picked up the book for the catchiest part- how so many people can be starving while so many people can be obese (and so many malnutritioned people are also fat)- but there's lots to learn here. Patel puts together the stress on the Global South caused by genetically modified crops and monoculture. He talks about the extra pressure on farmers and rural people in general, and how this suffering is especially borne by women. He convincingly argues that first world food "choices" aren't really choices at all: our time in the supermarket is spent choosing between what megacorporations want us to eat, not what nature really could provide us. I finished this book over a week ago, so I can't go into much detail.

The book was good, readable, and utterly distressing. The highlights were definately the (surprise) mentions on Arizmendi and the West Oakland People's Grocery. Read globally, love locally!


Anonymous said...

Arizmendi? Really? THB will be so happy!!! I think it's nuts and berries...
Seriously, Pollan makes a bit of the same argument that what we choose from in the grocery store is what agribusiness (underwritten by the US Gov't) wants us to eat...Pollan just doesn't (as I recall) call out the impact on the Third World.
We are trying to eat local here! Can't wait for farmer's markets at home, though!