New Delhi: “Today, when we produce more food than ever before, more than one in 10 people on Earth are hungry. The hunger of 800 million happens at the same time as another historical first: that they are outnumbered by the one billion people on this planet that are overweight. Global hunger and obesity are symptoms of the same problem.”
Thus begins Raj Patel’s book on the global food crisis. The title “Stuffed & Starved” draws attention to the contradictions underlying this phenomenon. The book argues that our entire food system has been corporatised and is being run to favour a few multinational corporations. These MNCs are able to influence trade policies by lobbying at global trade negotiation platforms like the WTO and at the same time are also able to control demand and consumption through supermarkets. “Supermarkets are the second phase of the corporatisation of the food system,” Patel says.
Patel has been an activist, writer and academician. He has degrees from Oxford, London School of Economics and Cornell University and has worked with the World Bank and the WTO. At the same time, he has also been involved in campaigns against some of the very same organizations he has represented. He is also a fellow at the global institute for Food and Development Policy.
Patel says free trade that is supposed to present us with more choices actally limits them. “There is a link here. We are hardwired to appreciate tastes like salt, butter and sugar and the corporations know that. They produce the same,” says Patel.
Patel’s message for his readers is that it is time we get angry and start asking questions. “We cannot make the world a better place by shopping. We need to organize ourselves politically and ask for fair practices,” Patel signs off.