the Illusion of Choice

Stuffed: Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and over 60 percent of us are considered overweight. Starved: Worldwide, nearly a billion people are starving to death, and 35 million Americans went hungry at some point last year.

“We cannot shop our way to a better world,” thus spake Raj Patel, former WTO official and author of the book Stuffed and Starved, which tells the tale of the global food system.

All sorts of choice bits in a podcast of his interview with Dan Imhoff of the Commonwealth Club. To wit:

Is Coke or Pepsi actually an example of free choice?

Instead of our food being made for us – how we are being made for our food.

What is the convenience of food?

Only 3 out of 10 Americans have a normal body weight. 35.5 million Americans went hungry in 2006, though the USDA no longer permits itself to use the word hungry, and instead refers to such people as suffering from food insecurity.

Why fertilizer bombs?

It’s a lot of gloom but he also talks about Agro-Ecological alternatives, the three sisters – squash, beans and maize – and how they replenish the environment as opposed to the way conventional farming methods destroy it and then need to build it up again from scratch. Also, this stuck out at me – In the 2000 years before the British came to India, there had been one famine approximately every 120 years; after the British arrived, and reformed the feudal agricultural system they found, there was a famine every 4 years. Patel explains what the creation of markets had to do with this.

Think small, live large.