This book makes a critical contribution to discussions of the current food crisis and what can be done to increase food equality, security and justice. It covers multiple global regions and in particular Africa, Latin America, Europe and the United States. I was particularly amazed by the statistics indicating that organic, smallholder, local, polycrop farms are more productive than the intensive monocropping with chemical inputs. This is a critical point. The book would have been strengthened by more expanded treatment of pervasive arguments for GMO and Green Revolution technologies. The value of these agricultural "innovations" is assumed by a large section of those concerned with food, and who are not necessarily convinced by a significantly one-sided argument in opposition. The arguments that resonate with less financially invested individuals must be addressed at their maximum strength in order to prove convincing. This weakness, however, should in no way detract from the invaluable contributions that this book makes to projects for sustainable food security.
I found Food Rebellions! to be a concise critique of the global food system backed a wealth of data and (short) case studies. Speaking as a reader already familiar with many of the issues discussed, it was a quick, easy read for me. I would highly recommend Food Rebellions! for those seeking to understand the deeper causes of hunger and poverty in the world. Another bonus is that it discusses a range of alternatives to current food policy.
Food Rebellions capably addresses a timely and important subject - but not in a particularly convincing or engaging manner. The body of the book itself is primarily a collection of statistics and citations that do little to draw the reader into the story of the food crisis or the lives of those who hunger for justice. Instead, the book includes individual stories and real world examples in a series of "boxes" that are separated from the body of the text. Because of the size (large),frequency and isolated nature of these "boxes" they quickly become a distraction and ultimately fail to compliment the text as a whole. Integrating the stories into the arguments themselves and helping the reader draw connections between the stories and statistics would have been a worthwhile endeavor - and produced a more readable and persuasive book.
I suspect that the most enthusiastic recipients of this book will be ones who are already well-informed about the issues discussed and sympathetic to the authors' view points. I would recommend this book as a helpful reference/resource on global food issues but not as an introduction or primer to those who wish to learn about them.
The content of this book is great, but it was too much for me. I don't care about all the statistics, facts and tests; so I skipped a bunch of this book. The information in general was important and I understood the message.
First, the nitty stuff that drives me crazy: the text is interrupted with "box" information that sometimes detracts from the book instead of enhancing it. It also doesn't help that the grammar is poor and punctuation sparse. Several times, I was confused and had to re-read something to figure out what I was supposed to be understanding. But, those are mainly the things that bother word nerds like myself. If you can get over that, this is a worthwhile read.
The authors of Food Rebellions made me laugh when I read, "according to [the industrial food titans], a world without Yara, Cargill, ADM, Monsanto, Tyson, TESCO, and Wal-Mart is a world doomed to starvation" (85). I laughed and thought, oh that's funny. But it's so true! One of the major topics in all of the sustainable food books is the misguided idea of reliance on the industrial food system to cure poverty and hunger. It's been eating at me (pun intended) because it's so contrary to common sense and the history of mankind's relationship with agriculture. The authors say it well, summing up my own opinion on the matter, "In overall output, the small, diversified farm produces much more food" (p.116).
The idea of urban food gardens (as provided as an example solution, p.166) is something we've seen in movies (Dirt!, The Power of Community, and Fresh, among others, all discuss this concept), and I've personally noticed it more when reading magazines like Sunset and Better Homes and Gardens.
Even if we frequent our local farmers markets, grow our own food when possible, get our consumer message to the powers that be... there still needs to be a change to the overall system, the infrastructure, the taxes and the policies and the international programs that simply perpetuate the wrongness of the current system.Read more ›