Tuesday, December 04, 2012

What's Wrong With Our Food?


I was horrified by the little story we listened to yesterday by Bill Moyers-- the one about hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio comparing Americans to wildebeests being eaten alive by unregulated and ravenous hedge fund billionaires hyenas. I haven't been able to get Dalio's images, especially the horrific video I added to the post, out of my mind. And then, today I came across a radio interview-- the video above-- with Frederick Kaufman, food journalist and author of Bet The Farm. Kaufman makes the point that Wall Street is industrializing agriculture, driving farmers off the land and financializing food while they plot to do to the world's food supply exactly what they did to the American housing market. He makes the case that we can save ourselves by definancialization-- getting the bankers out of the food system, probably even more important than getting rats out of the food system.

I lived for many years overseas. I could never figure out why when I bought a baguette, some tomatoes and cheese in France it was so much more delicious than the same components in America. Kaufman has the answer-- to that and much more important questions, like why we're producing more food than ever while starvation and malnutrition is worse than ever. Kaufman, unlike Dalio, is decidedly not a fan of greed. He wrote the book to explore why the food on our tables is getting less healthy and less delicious even as the world's biggest food companies and food scientists say things are better than ever.
To unravel this riddle, he moves down the supply chain like a detective solving a mystery, revealing a force at work that is larger than Monsanto, McDonalds or any of the other commonly cited culprits-- and far more shocking.

Kaufman's recent cover story for Harper's, "The Food Bubble-- How Wall Street Starved Millions And Got Away With It," provoked controversy throughout the food world, and led to appearances on the NBC Nightly News, MSNBC, Fox Business News, Democracy Now, and Bloomberg TV, along with features on National Public Radio and the BBC World Service.

• Visits the front lines of the food supply system and food politics as Kaufman visits farms, food science research labs, agribusiness giants, the United Nations, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and more

• Explains how food has been financialized and the powerful consequences of this change, including: the Arab Spring, started over rising food prices; farmers being put out of business; food scientists rushing to make easy-to-transport, homogenized ingredients instead of delicious foods

• Explains how the push for sustainability in food production is more likely to make everything worse, rather than better-- and how the rise of fast food is bad for us, but catastrophic for those who will never even see a McNugget or frozen pizza.

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At 11:24 AM, Blogger opit said...

Monoculture starves the soil of nutrients and minerals - and that is the mere start of dysfunction. But rather than 'preach to the choir' I'd like to point up something recommended to me years ago. My best friend - a photojournalist lying low because he had told the truth about people who had violent ways of fixing problems like that - pointed me towards a biography of Nelson A. Rockefeller, once head of the CIA. He used the banking system to destroy farms and farming in central and south America in the 1940's and 1950's. There was lots of other interesting info too...but that operation resonates to today's situation. The Panelist has a video 'The Real Winner in Iraq Was Monsanto' which I reference from time to time. And my Corporate Farming file was sparked best by blogs by fellow members of Care 2. Two entries Aug 13 2009 are especially interesting.


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