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Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America Hardcover – December 11, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The (December 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159558790X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595587909
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #260,168 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a meticulously researched tour de force, Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Watch, examines the pernicious effects of consolidation in every sector of the food industry. Not only has deregulation and the weakening of antitrust laws led to a significant reduction of competition, it has failed to allow the consumer to benefit from the economies of scale achieved by larger production facilities. More dangerous for our democracy, Hauter argues, the surviving firms have used their wealth to capture the political system in order to rewrite the regulations for their benefit. They have persuaded governments to subsidize their irrigation costs with publicly funded water projects; successfully pushed for the enactment of the Cuban sugar tariff, which directly led to high-fructose corn syrup becoming the sweetener of choice; and weakened oversight by federal bureaucracies, preventing the FDA from testing meat for contamination before and during processing. In fact, Hauter suggests, the FDA is no longer capable of enforcing its regulations at all and must resort to persuasion and, at times, begging. Though alarming, Hauter's argument is undermined by her resort to the suggestion of conspiracy on occasion. Overall, though, the book deserves a place on the shelf beside the burgeoning journalistic explorations of the dangers of the current system. (Dec.)


"From familiar ground such as the obesity epidemic and junk-food advertising, to the lesser-known yet important terrain of corporate supply chains and a largest-takes-all food infrastructure, Hauter provides bountiful evidence to buttress her deep working knowledge of the food system. . . . Foodopoly is politically brave—not just naming names in the agri-industrial complex, but pushing us to think more deeply about the politics and economics that dictate our diets beyond our own roles as shoppers and eaters."
San Francisco Chronicle

"A shocking and powerful reminder of the distance between our image of the family farmer and the corporate agribusiness reality. Make sure you read it before dinner."
—Bill McKibben, author of Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

"Foodopoly is a meticulously documented account of how we have lost control of our food system, as well as a roadmap for taking it back. We must respond to this call to action."
—Steve Gliessman, Professor Emeritus of Agroecology, UC-Santa Cruz

"Food is life. Today food and life are being hijacked by corporations — seed by Monsanto, trade by Cargill and giant agribusiness, retail by Walmart. And our earth, our farmers, our health are being sacrificed to increase corporate profits and control over our food systems. This is the story Hauter tells in Foodopoly. This is a story we must hear in order to create food democracy and food freedom."
—Dr. Vandana Shiva

"Wenonah Hauter knows where the bodies are buried beneath the amber waves of grain. This is a terrific primer on the corporate control of food in the US, and the actions of those who fight back. By turns heartbreaking, infuriating and inspiring, Foodopoly is required reading for anyone who wants to understand both the scale of the challenge in reclaiming our food system, and the urgency for doing so."
—Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System

"This may be the most important book on the politics of food ever written in the US. Hauter doesn't buy the notion that we can buy our way to a healthy future. She puts the blame for our food crisis squarely where it belongs: on the political and agribusiness leaders who benefit from a corporate-dominated food system. Read this essential book and take action!"
—Maude Barlow, author of Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Fight for the Right to Water

"Foodopoly makes a compelling case for how corporate consolidation and control of the food supply are at the root cause of a host of problems. Hauter is absolutely right that unless we break the stranglehold of corporate power with significant policy change, such as enforcing federal antitrust laws, the food movement will continue to have only marginal success."
—Michele Simon, president of Eat Drink Politics and author of Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back

"A meticulously researched tour de force."
Publishers Weekly

"We all know how Monopoly ends: one person corners Boardwalk and Park Place and the rest are screwed. Winner-take-all is fine for a board game, but disastrous, as Wenonah Hauter reveals in this important new book, when it comes to our food. In compelling prose, Hauter breaks down why the concentration of corporate power over food matters—and what we can do about it. Kudos to Hauter for this vital book—essential reading for anyone who wants safe food and clean water."
—Anna Lappé, founder, Food Mythbusters and author, Diet for a Hot Planet

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Customer Reviews

The corporations exert great economic and political power.
Joan N.
Foodopoly is an informative, eye-opening read that will make you pause and think.
Rivera Sun
The book is a must read and the author knows what she is writing about.
Heidi Baird

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Joan D. Levin on January 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this encyclopedic examination of the history and politics of the American food production system, long-time agricultural scholar-activist Wenonah Hauter dissects the links binding agricultural policy, giant financial interests, and food production conglomerates into a highly consolidated, virtually impenetrable fabric resistant to input from public health, environmental, labor, or consumer interests.

The "cheap food" lavishly displayed in our supermarkets is hardly cheap given the price we all pay for deteriorating health, disappearing soil, dangerously polluted land, water and air, economic crises for farm labor, and the most cynical disregard for consumer health. The enormous profitability of our highly monopolized food production system exists in large part because there is virtually no requirement upon those profiting most to bear the cost of these negative externals.

As one of many examples, the drive to monetize every ounce of animal flesh by routinely feeding healthy animals antibiotics so that they might quickly grow to market weight in cheaper, filthy, crowded conditions has resulted in the squandering of the greatest medical advance of the 20th Century - antibiotics - as our "miracle drugs" become useless against drug-resistant strains of microorganisms emanating from these animals and infecting foods intended for human consumption. Today, while advanced antibiotics (many with serious adverse effects) address some of these organisms, we are also faced with organisms that seem resistant to any drugs now available.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Moligale on March 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book contains TONS of information about what is going on with the American (an even international) food system. It was also really eye-opening to see how extensively corporations control not only our food, but our entire government. The message I took away from the book was that in order to make any long-lasting change to our broken food system, we have to take back our government from corporations, rather than believing we can just buy local, organic food (although that is definitely a piece of the solution). We need to start demanding that antitrust laws be enforced to prevent further consolidation of our food into fewer and fewer hands. I highly recommend this book to everybody and anybody. Although this is a highly complex issue, it's written in a way that is accessible to somebody who has no previous knowledge about our food system. Part One of Foodopoly covers the history of food and agricultural policy, which was difficult for me personally to get through, but it was really important for understanding the context for the rest of the book. Other than that, it was a great book that really got me fired up!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Argie Baker on April 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Living in the Midwest, I have lamented agribusiness's rapid increase in huge factory farms and feedlots, and the resulting decline in small farms and small towns. Hauter takes you step by step through how and why this has happened. She thoroughly explains how a very few corporations have taken over all aspects of food production, including such things as produce, food safety, factory farming, distribution, and specific examples of raising hogs, beef, and poultry in huge, confined feeding operations. When a chicken spends its whole life in an area of a couple of square feet, it makes me reluctant to eat chickens anymore. The poor farmer gets little or no money for raising the product. She also points out that these corporations, by being politically very active, resist any regulations. In the end, she outlines what we need to do to stop corporate control of the entire food chain. The book should be mandatory reading by congress and the president.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dorothy Brockway on March 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book shows the true horror of our corporate food producers and the danger to all our lives because these producers are only interested in profit, not nutrition or health.
I have recommended the book to my friends and family. We need to keep informed!
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72 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Maureen Ogle on January 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Full disclosure #1: I bought this book from Amazon (no free copy from publisher) and I read the book and I'm a real person. (Translation: this is a real review, not a fake one.)

Full disclosure #2: I just finished writing a history of meat in America, because of which I've done quite a bit of research (historical) into the American food industry/system and especially the business of making meat. That means I came to this book with probably a bit more background knowledge than the average reader. That doesn't make me better than an average reader; it just means this is a topic about which I happen to know something.

With that in mind:

Writing a book is not easy (believe me!) so kudos to Hauter for taking time to craft a book-length project. If you're looking for an anti-corporate polemic, you'll love this book.

But if you're interested in learning more about the larger context and history of how food policy is created, why and how farming has changed so much over the years, or a historically accurate book about food in modern America, you'll want to look elsewhere. Hauter is a political activist, so her focus here is entirely on expose and corporate "corruption." She's NOT a scholarly expert in, say, economics, political science, or history, so all of that is missing from her polemic.

Which means that the book is short on facts, context, and history. (Particularly the latter: she wrote the first chapter to provide historical background to the larger story of "corruption" and "Big Food," but that first chapter is riddled with factual errors and contains nothing remotely resembling accurate historical context. As her main source, she relied on a 1992 expose which is itself long on polemic, short on fact.
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