Category Archives: Food System

World Food Day: Must-Watch Documentaries

Aljazeera – 

FoodHuman RightsPoverty & DevelopmentAgricultureGhana

Every day, one in nine people around the world go hungry. That’s more than 820 million people who do not have enough food to support a healthy, productive lifestyle – despite the fact that the world produces enough food to feed every single one of us.

On October 16, 1945, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) was established. The organisation’s logo is a blade of wheat and its Latin motto, “fiat panis”, translates to “let there be bread”; an apt representation of the work the FAO has undertaken since its inception, with the lead focus of eliminating world hunger.

For almost four decades, October 16 has been celebrated to raise awareness of the FAO’s main working areas, including building sustainable agriculture and fishery industries, eliminating poverty, implementing inclusive agriculture foundations and the aforementioned goal of reducing, and eventually abolishing malnutrition, food insecurity and hunger.

To mark World Food Day, Al Jazeera looks back at some of our most memorable food-related documentaries, from the celebration of the intrinsically-linked relationship between food and culture to the problems with inflation on the most basic of foodstuffs and the politics of food in the heart of conflict zones.

A Taste of Conflict: The Politics of Food in Jerusalem

South Korea: Kimchi Crazy

Hungry for Change: New York’s Food Insecurity Crisis

India: The Republic of Hunger

Ghana: Food for Thought

Egypt: On the Breadline

Continue reading World Food Day: Must-Watch Documentaries

Book: The Hacking of the American Mind – The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains (Video & Audio)

by Robert H. Lustig, MD                                                                                         Author of New York Times Bestseller, FAT CHANCE

VIDEO: San Francisco Library Robert H. Lustig (99 Min)

AUDIO: Interview with author  Robert H. Lustig (65 Min)

Page 17-18: Once upon a time we were happy. Then the snake showed up and we’ve been miserable ever since. Hieronymus Bosch’s painting Garden of Earthly Delights (circa 1500) is a triptych housed in the Prado in Madrid. It is an allegorical warning of what happens when we squander our birthright of happiness divined from God in one garden and move on to the pleasures of the flesh in the next garden, with the inevitable result of eternal damnation. Figures. Our most lauded goal in life – to be happy – is seemingly an illusion, out of reach for us common folk. Except the rich aren’t any happier. Happiness seems to be a mirage, something to chase after, to keep us turning over rocks, kissing frogs, and trying to fit keys into the magic lock.

But along the way, wandering through our own individual gardens of earthly delights in search of our seemingly unobtainable nirvanas, we’ve sure had a whole lot of fun. Or we’ve at least tried to. We buy shiny things, play Powerball, imbibe with friends or sometimes alone. So why are so many of us miserable? Are we destined just to sink further into the abyss of pleasure with no hope of extricating ourselves to find real happiness? Is it all futile? Lots of people have died trying to get to that magic place of contentment and inner peace, that thing called “happiness”. But if we can’t get there, what’s the point?

What if I told you that happiness is right there in front of you, just behind the curtain of your own brain?

To some, an argument over the difference between pleasure and happiness might seem like a straw man, a false argument not really worth having. Hey, they both feel good; why should you care? And pleasure is here, now. Happiness…maybe not so much, and not so soon.

But it does matter. And not just to you but to all of society. Explaining the differences between these two otherwise positive emotions forms the narrative arc of this book.

Page 24

For the rest of this book, pleasure, derived from the French plaisir for “to please”, is defined as the concept of gratification or reward. The keys to this definition are:

  1. it is immediate
  2. it provides some level of excitement or amusement, and
  3. it is dependent on circumstance.

Conversely, happiness is defined as the Aristotelian concept of eudemonia – that is, “contentment” or well-being or human flourishing, or, as the introductory quote from Yeats, “growth” – physical and/or spiritual. The keys to this definition are:

  1. It’s about life, not the afterlife,
  2. it’s not prone to acute changes in one’s life, and
  3. it is unrelated to circumstance, so anyone can be happy, not just the rich and powerful.

SOURCE

http://www.robertlustig.com/hacking/ videos

 

Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen

Corporate Crime Reporter – By Editor Filed in News July 18, 2018
That’s the story that Kristin Lawless tells in her new book – Formerly Known As Food: How the Industrial Food System is Changing Our Minds, Bodies and Culture.

Lawless challenges the modern food movement for focusing on individual choice – made famous by Michael Pollan’s prescription – eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

Lawless might revise it to – challenge, as much as possible, corporate power and the corporate takeover of the kitchen.

Flip to the back of the book to see how Lawless differs from Pollan and the food movement’s focus on the individual.

Instead, she targets corporate power.

Stop predatory marketing of poor quality industrial foods. Stop the marketing of infant formula to parents. Place warning labels on all industrial food packaging – “these foods may be harmful to your health.” Stop the use of thousands of chemicals in and on our food supply.

Create a federal urban farm program. Demand nutrition and cooking education in all public schools. Demand a universal basic income. Demand payment for cooking and other household work. Demand six months paid parental leave – insuring the option to breast feed as a right.

Lawless writes that ten companies control nearly every large food and beverage brand in the world – Nestle, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mars, Associated British Foods and Mondelez.

And still the food movement focus is the individual, not the corporation.

“When food movement leaders say the solutions are to eat whole foods and buy organic, they leave out the crucial fact that we need to collectively reject the production of poor quality processed foods and stop the production of dangerous pesticides and other environmental chemicals that contaminate many foods,” she writes. “Critics do not often articulate this omission, but it is largely why the movement is perceived as elitist – and rightly so. If the food movement’s solutions are market based and predicated on spending more for safer and healthier food, they ignore how impossible these solutions are for most Americans. In fact, this agenda serves the agendas of Big Food and Big Ag quite well.”

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Book Excerpt Why the food movement needs to understand capitalism

Climate & Capitalism – Eric Holt-Giménez – July 11, 2018

The fragmentation, depolitization, and neoliberal co-optation of the food movement, however, is rapidly changing with the crumbling of progressive neoliberalism. The rise of racial intolerance, xenophobia, and organized violence from the far-right has raised concerns of neofascism, worldwide, and prompted all progressive social movements to dig deeper to fully understand the problems they confront.

Many people in the Global South, especially poor food producers, can’t afford not to understand the economic forces destroying their livelihoods. The rise of today’s international food sovereignty movement, which has also taken root among farmers, farmworkers, and foodworkers in the United States, is part of a long history of resistance to violent, capitalist dispossession and exploitation of land, water, markets, labor, and seeds.

In the Global North, underserved communities of color —  historically subjected to waves of colonization, dispossession, exploitation, and discrimination — form the backbone of a food justice movement calling for fair and equitable access to good, healthy food.

Understanding why people of color are twice as likely to suffer from food insecurity and diet-related disease, even though they live in affluent Northern democracies, requires an understanding of the intersection of capitalism and racism. So does understanding why farmers go broke overproducing food in a world where one in seven people are going hungry.

As the middle class in the developed world shrinks, much of the millennial generation, underemployed and saddled with debt, will live shorter lives than their parents, due in large part to the epidemic of diet-related diseases endemic to modern capitalism. The widespread “back to the land” trend is not simply a lifestyle choice, it also responds to shrinking livelihood opportunities.

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$100 billion and rising: Canadian farm debt

A. The amount of money that farmers pay each year in interest to banks and other lenders ($3 billion, on average) is approximately equal to the amount that Canadian citizens each year pay to farmers ($3.1 billion). Thus, one could say that, in effect, taxpayers are paying farmers’ interest bills. Governments are facilitating the transfer of tax dollars from Canadian families to farmers and on to banks and their shareholders.

B. Canadian farmers probably could not service their $100 billion dollar debt without government/taxpayer funding.

C. To take a different perspective: each year farmers take on additional debt ($2.7 billion, on average) approximately equal to the amount they are required to pay in interest to banks ($3 billion on average). One could say that for two decades banks have been loaning farmers the money needed to pay the interest on farmers’ tens-of-billions of dollars in farm debt.

Over and above the difficulty in paying the interest, is the difficulty in repaying the principle.  Farm debt now—$102 billion—is equal to approximately 64 years of farmers’ realized net farm income from the markets.  To repay the current debt, Canadian farm families would have to hand over to banks and other lenders every dime of net farm income from the markets from now until 2082.

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Beginning to end hunger: Belo Horizonte shows the way

Author: M. Jahi Chappell – reviewed by Martin Empson – July 4, 2018

A Brazilian city’s food program feeds the hungry and supports local farmers. It succeeds by empowering communities and challenging inequality.

Hunger is a real crisis for millions of people around the globe. Officially, about 11 percent of the world’s population are acknowledged to be malnourished today, but some studies suggest the figure is more than twice that. Also, as M. Jahi Chappell points out, 1 to 2 billion people suffer from “hidden hunger” — insufficient  nutrients in their diet. At the same time 600 million people suffer from obesity

These figures represent an obscenity: the madness of a food system structured around maximizing profit, while exacerbating hunger and malnutrition. The system also ensures that in the global south and the richer north, farmers, peasants and agricultural producers increasingly face crippling debts, poverty incomes and the pressure of big business, which devalues their crops and boosts incomes for supermarket chains and multinational agribusiness.

It is tempting for socialists to argue simply that the problem is capitalism and that only a socialist, post-capitalist world can feed the world’s population healthily and sustainably. M. Jahi Chappell’s important study shows that this is wrong. It is possible to build a more equitable and sustainable food system today at the same time as strengthening the struggle against capitalism. Chappell illustrates this with a detailed study of the experience of Belo Horizonte (BH), the sixth largest city in Brazil, home to about two and a half million people.

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