We here at Slow Food USA have been saying for quite some time now that food in this country is too cheap, and have been urging people to think about the true cost of food. No one could have predicted, though, how quickly food prices would rise around the globe, changing the conversation quite significantly. In the NY Times last week, Kim Severson talked with Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, and other sustainable food advocates about this rise and what it could/will mean for the average consumer. The title of the article? “Some Good News on Food Prices.”
Good news? Not so fast, say some. Tom Philpott over at Grist took issue with their analysis/predictions and got some good conversation going in his comments section.
Meanwhile, over at Democracy Now, Amy Goodman interviewed Raj Patel, the author of Stuffed and Starved: the Hidden Battle for the World Food System. The title, of course, refers to the paradox of the twin epidemics we face right here in our own country but also around the world: obesity and hunger.
He explains the rising food prices as a “perfect storm:” the combination of last year being a bad year for crops, the rise of interest in biofuels, developing nations eating more meat (which uses much more grain than it would to eat grain directly), and the rise of oil prices. He calls ethanol as an alternative to oil as “madness,” and comes down hard on the U.S.’ free trade agenda as being partly responsible for the present food riots in the developing world.