Last weekend I heard Raj Patel discuss the world's not-so-ironic, simultaneous surge of both obesity and starvation -- there are currently a billion people on the planet who are overweight and another billion who are starving. Patel is an economist turned academic who is passionate about ending the disasterous effects that globalization has had on the way we eat. Formerly with the World Bank, Patel is currently a researcher at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa and a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley. The guy makes a persuasive case for how converting the production and dissemination of food over to "the free markets" has done everything BUT ensure food security. Instead, we have created a relatively new phenomenon whereby farmers around the world can't afford the food they grow.
Meanwhile, consumers are being fed foods that would have previously been deemed unfit for human consumption. Factory farms are turning out soy and corn to be processed into the myriad packaged foods we now find ourselves eating. "We are being made for our food," Patel muses, explaining how capitalist culture has turned us into the type of people who value convenience over taste. According to Patel, the only entities that gain from the "free market" are the six wealthy corporations that control the distribution of food around the world. To learn more, read Patel's new book, Stuffed and Starved; to do more, make choices that support local, independent farms and petition the new administration to create policies that support these farmers over corporate food conglomerates.