I recently finished Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel, it’s a hefty piece of writing/research about the global food system and all that that entails – production, consumer issues, policy and politics. Whilst providing some alarming reading, I think Patel produced a brilliant work – and now I’m a regular visitor to his website that supports the issues discussed in the book www.stuffedandstarved.com
I’m already antsy about the role supermarkets have in determining how consumers buy and their lack of consumer education, and this book does nothing to dispell ideas that pretty much all supermarkets will do anything to get custom and keep it. My biggest problem is with Aldi and Asda, as they are so big that their bulk-buying/cheap-selling simply stamps out smaller, more varied competitors. Having grown up in a family were our livelihood depended on succesful price negotiations with supermarket giants for our fruit, I have first hand knowledge of their cutthroat operations. Producers are up against a brick wall – and buyers know this – often forcing fruit to be sold at rock-bottom prices, leaving the farmer barely making margins.
Another issue that’s addressed in the book – and that cropped up in the news today is that of GM farming. From an ethical point of view I have a massive problem with genetically modified anthing – but I also know that our planet is already not producing enough food to feed all its inhabitants, and as we move deeper into the noughties, the problem is only going to become unavoidable…which represents the catch-22 of GM crops. Seems like the government is starting to seriously doubt their own decision, as this Indy article attests, but what to do? (Check http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/news/government-launches-bid-to-allay-fears-over-gm-food-1647353.html )
I certainly think that whoever has any access to a garden of their own should pull out those pansies and start growing some veggies to complement their household groceries, but that’s only a small solution to a very, very big problem…