- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (October 1, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0470631929
- ISBN-13: 978-0470631928
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 29 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #542,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Bet the Farm: How Food Stopped Being Food 1st Edition
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Much has been made of the organic, local, and slow-food movements, but when it comes to feeding seven-billion people, these laudable efforts represent a small fraction of the food supply. Food has become in effect a type of currency, and the universal currency of food is pizza. Kaufman deconstructs a Domino’s pizza, tracing it back to the soil to find out how the massive quantities of wheat, tomatoes, meat (pepperoni), and milk (cheese) in it are produced. Surprisingly, he discovers a different movement of sorts, a sustainability movement being undertaken by the likes of industry giants Unilever, Tyson Foods, and the nation’s largest grocer, Walmart, a company that has taken a proactive stance on the ecological impact of its products. At the Ohio State University’s experimental research station, Kaufman considers the pros and cons of genetically modified food in a world in which new organisms are treated as intellectual property. These examinations lead us on a quest to discover why, in a world of food surpluses, a billion people still go hungry every day as food becomes increasingly globalized, industrialized, and commoditized. --David Siegfried
From the Inside Flap
In the last half decade, the world has seen two devastating spikes in the price of food, and a third may be on the way. In 2008 and 2010, farmers gathered record wheat harvests, yet more people starved than ever beforeand most of them were farmers. How is that possible?
In Bet the Farm, Harper's magazine contributing editor Frederick Kaufman investigates the hidden connection between global food and global finance by asking the simple question: Why can't delicious, inexpensive, and healthy food be available to everyone on Earth?
You will find his discoveries shocking.
Like a detective intent on solving a mystery, Kaufman travels from the corporate headquarters of Domino's Pizza and Tyson Foods to Walmart's sustainability research center, to mega-farms and organic farms and numerous genetic modification laboratories. Kaufman goes to Rome to the meeting of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, and finally ends up on Wall Street and the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where he discovers the answer to the riddle. His investigation reveals that money pouring into the global derivatives market in grain futures is having astonishing consequences that reach far beyond your dinner table, including the Arab Spring, bankrupt farmers, starving masses, and armies of scientists creating new GMO foods with U.S. marketing and shipping needs in mind instead of global nutrition.
Our food is getting less healthy, less delicious, and more expensive even as the world's biggest food companies and food scientists say things are better than ever and that the rest of us should leave it to them to feed the world. Readers of Bet the Farm will glimpse the power behind global food and understand what truly supports the system that has brought mass misery to our planet.
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I remember that some years back I'd bought a wheat product I''d been eating for decades, only to find out that it no longer tasted the same. I could find nothing to explain this, until reading Bet the Farm, where I learned that the market in the type of wheat used for that product had been cornered by commodity traders, causing the price to rise so drastically that most food processing corporations couldn't afford it and switched to other types of wheat. I'd stopped buying that product, but after learning what the problem had been, I tried it again this year, and it is back to being the product I'd always known and enjoyed.
The author did a lot of research that I'd never thought of doing, and I'm very grateful. Five stars.
The inexorable race to maximize profit at any cost to humanity has turned the word profit into a dirty word. We no longer have a 'free' country when our so-called news media, now being TV/Cable news, lies by omission to its viewers about what is happening to our food supply, among other things.
The derivatives, the 'shadow market' of $600 trillion, now controls ALL of our food costs. Gone are the true hedgers (farmers) in the commodity market who protected themselves for unseen shocks to the food supply.
This book shows that there is no difference between the Republicans and the Democrats when it comes to doing what is best for themselves and their campaign contributors.
And, how many people saw on '60 Minutes' sometime during the last two weeks of May - after their segments had ended and they went to their commercials before sign off to have them come back and say, quickly, "Congress has removed their ban on insider trading."
And the program was off. I did not see or read this 'news' anywhere. Did anyone else?
BA - 6.18.13
I recommend this book for anyone who is looking to read about how world hunger is influenced by market pressures. We grow more food than ever before and much more than we need to feed everyone but hunger is still a real issue. Reading this will make you think about your food choices choices and about how economic trends influence the way food is grown and distributed.
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