The politics of food is changing fast. In rich countries, obesity is now a more serious problem than hunger. Consumers once satisfied with cheap and convenient food now want food that is also safe, nutritious, fresh, and grown by local farmers using fewer chemicals. Heavily subsidized and under-regulated commercial farmers are facing stronger push-back from environmentalists and consumer activists, and food companies are under the microscope. Meanwhile in developing countries, agricultural success in Asia has spurred income growth and dietary enrichment, but agricultural failure in Africa has left one third of all citizens undernourished. The international markets that link these diverse regions together are subject to sudden disruption, as noted when an unexpected spike in international food prices in 2008 caused street riots in a dozen or more countries.
In a lively and easy-to-navigate, question-and-answer format, Food Politics carefully examines and explains the most important issues on today's global food landscape, including international food prices, famines, the politics of chronic hunger, the Malthusian race between food production and population growth, international food aid, controversies surrounding "green revolution" farming, the politics of obesity, farm subsidies and trade, agriculture and the environment, agribusiness, supermarkets, food safety, fast food, slow food, organic food, local food, and genetically engineered food.
Politics in each of these areas has become polarized over the past decade by conflicting claims and accusations from advocates on all sides. Paarlberg's book maps this contested terrain through the eyes of an independent scholar not afraid to unmask myths and name names. More than a few of today's fashionable beliefs about farming and food are brought down a notch under this critical scrutiny. For those ready to have their thinking about food politics informed and also challenged, this is the book to read.