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Food, Farming, and Freedom: Sowing the Arab Spring Paperback – May 11, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Just World Books (May 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935982052
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935982050
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,485,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Food, Farming and Freedom is about the relationship between agriculture and the Arab Spring. That is, Dr. Zurayk contends that investment in or divestment from agriculture was an important factor in inducing the Arab Spring. He also contends that the U.S-backed governments in the Middle East/North Africa region simply did not strongly value the rural population or the agriculture that is their chief livelihood. The book is primarily focused on Lebanon, though does discuss Jordan, Syria, and Iraq on occassion.

Pros: Overall, the book provides a decent case for the importance of investment and support for small-scale farming. For him, it is a question of viability, economy, and defense. Without support, large-scale rural to urban migration occurs, agricultural exports from smaller farms decreases, income inequality increases, and Israel would have a much easier time invading Southern Lebanon. Zurayk explores the immediate impacts of Israeli attacks and international and Lebanese government inaction in a blunt, evocative style.

Cons: Though the book is largely an economic text (focusing on the ripple effects from economic issues), it is light on numbers. Dr. Zurayk also has a tendency to rely on a comfort and culture argument. This is highlighted when he states that:
"People may want to eat local food because it reaches somewhere deep inside their souls, a place where what has neither utility nor efficiency can still find a place" (Zurayk 34).
There are no tables or images within the main text to intersperse the monotony of text or summarize the numbers given. But where I wanted the break of image or text, the micro-splitting resultant from the blog post format unnecessarily divided related topics and forced me to double-check and relate arguments.
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