CBC’s current affairs program, The Current, did a piece this morning on Raj Patel’s book on food security – the access of populations to food – and global food economics this morning. Stuffed and Starved is the first book I’ve come across that has its own trailer: cool! It comes down hard on organisations like the WTO for helping to oil that machinery that forces small farmers off their land, allowing big business to take hold of food productions and supermarket offerings, and speaks out against ‘free’ trade policies that can only worsen the situation for farmers and consumers alike. My copy is awaiting my attention, as is a similarly titled book, Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America, by Harvey Levenstein.
…every decision we make about the food that we eat has consequences. And they aren’t just about people’s personal health. There are consequences in terms of the healthcare system for all of us if people eat food that makes them sick. And there are environmental consequences. But I think the thing that people don’t understand is that there are cultural consequences.
When we’re eating fast food, we’re not just eating the food, we’re eating a set of values that comes with the food. And it’s telling us that food should be cheap. It’s telling us that food should be the same no matter where we are on the planet. It’s telling us that advertising confers value. That it’s OK to eat 24 hours a day. That there are unlimited resources. It’s telling us that the work of the people who grow or raise the food is unimportant — in fact we don’t even need to know. And all of those values are informing what’s happening in the world around us. We’re ending up with malls instead of beautiful places to live in.