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BB - The Food Movement-Patel.pdf

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University of Toronto St. George

Why Hunger Is Still With Us Published on The Nation ( Why Hunger Is Still With Us Raj Patel | September 14, 2011 Editor's Note: This piece is one in a series of replies to Frances Moore Lappé’s essay [1]on the food movement today. Amid the joy of local, seasonal ingredients and tides of young people with dirt freshly lodged under their fingernails, it feels unkind to point to the bigger problems within the food system. But it’s worth tempering an optimism of the will with a pessimism of the intellect. Despite the food movement’s gains over the past decade, it’s hard not to feel the latter outweighing the former. For every White House organic garden, there’s an appointee to the US Trade Representative’s office from the pesticide industry. Sasha and Malia may be getting good grub, but the global South still gets stuck with chemicals. Harvests remain strong, and people still go hungry. This isn’t because of population growth —there’s enough produced to feed everyone on a Small Planet’s diet. But the economics of crop production have increasingly left concerns about human eating in the dust. First, we’re growing more crops than ever before not for direct human consumption, or even animal feed, but as biofuels, to keep cars on the road. Already, more than a tenth of the world’s total coarse grain output is used for fuel, and the OECD predicts that within a decade a third of all sugar cane grown on earth will be used not for sweetening but for combustion. Luckily, there’s reason for optimism of the will here. La Via Campesina has taken aim at agrofuels in its small farmers Cooling Down the Planet campaign. The group has refuted agribusiness greenwash in the best way: by showing, with real living practice, exactly how to meet the climate crisis. Yet, on the down side again, the only thing worse than burning food is speculating on it. As economist Jayati Ghosh has pointed out, one consequence of the 2000 Commodity Futures Modernization Act has been unregulated commodity futures trading reaching the $9 trillion mark at the
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