Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System

August 1, 2008

Raj Patel (Melville House Publishing)

Raj Patel had written a well-researched, well-argued book on the global food crisis complete with tables and graphs before it became something talked about on the nightly news. Patel, whose jacket blurb cheekily announced he has worked for the World Bank and the World Trade Organization and had been "tear-gassed on four continents protesting them," makes no bones about his politics. But he argues his position with facts rather than strident rhetoric. So you learn why supermarkets have milk way in the back, why soy is not the all-good wonder-bean tofu eaters want it to be and why bumper harvests coexist with farmer suicides. But if you take one thing away from this book, remember the hourglass. Why are food prices so high when there are millions of farmers and millions of consumers? Somewhere in between them the flow gets pinched like an hourglass-that's where big agribusinesses like Archer Daniels Midland come in. And guess who's making the big bucks during the current crisis? If Patel had an epilogue, it could be "I told you so." -Sandip Roy

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