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Stuffed And Starved: Markets, Power And The Hidden Battle For The World Food System
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Stuffed And Starved: Markets, Power And The Hidden Battle For The World Food System

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,625 Ratings  ·  168 Reviews

It’s a perverse fact of modern life: There are more starving people in the world than ever before, while there are also more people who are overweight.

To find out how we got to this point and what we can do about it, Raj Patel launched a comprehensive investigation into the global food network. It took him from the colossal supermarkets of California to India’s wrecked pa

Hardcover, 448 pages
Published January 13th 2007 by Portobello Books Ltd (first published 2007)
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Aug 16, 2008 angela rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Saying: READ THIS BOOK! is the most logical place to begin this review. Seriously. Read it.

This is an incredibly nuanced look at the global food market. He addresses everything from rural poverty, failure, and farmer suicide (in the Global North and Global South) to the bottlenecks in our global food chain (mostly at the distributor and retailer level, where distributors are increasingly the same people as the retailers) to supermarkets to worker's rights and movements to obesity to monoculture
Feb 08, 2009 Mary rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book! I really wanted to read it to the last page without skimming. The subject matter is fascinating to me--the food politics of the US and the rest of the world. It seem that Patel and I have a lot of similar opinions about many things, such as the WTO, NAFTA, and the UN. However, we do not agree on why we do not like them. However, what he suggests to do about it is nearly the opposite of what I would do, policy-wise. I was also a bit turned off by the extent of h ...more
When I first saw this book in our local bookstore, I was interested in its purported claim to trace the intricacies in the power structure surrounding global food production/distribution. As a broad primer about the different ways in which campesinos growing soy in Brazil, Koreans fighting against the WTO, rural South Africans growing Bt cotton, etc. relate to the Global North's food acquisition and lack of satisfactory distribution, Stuffed generally succeeds. There is no shortage of vignettes ...more
Aug 19, 2011 Lesandre rated it really liked it
Quite detailed. A different, refreshing perspective on food that is not all about health and obesity but rather the economic and social implications of our industrialized agricultural system and how it creates both rural and urban poor.
Mar 22, 2009 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been aware of and fascinated by a modern paradox for a while. For the first time in human history, a growing number of people are obese and suffering a form of malnutrition. By eating a diet composed mostly of empty calories, people will gain weight but still practically starve. Raj Patel explores this phenomenon in Stuffed and Starved. Patel is a British Indian educated at the London School of Economics and as his blurb put it, has been tear gassed on four continents.

There are more people
Feb 09, 2009 Melissa rated it liked it
This book differs from other food politics books I've read in that it addresses the issues from a much more global perspective. I learned a lot about peasant/farmer movements, and really found that first part of the book pretty engaging. Things start to fall apart, however, when Patel starts to move into urban US issues, health issues, slow food movement, etc. These parts of the book aren't very well developed, and by the end I started to wonder if the author didn't feel like he had to have an o ...more
Dec 06, 2008 Dawnbg rated it it was ok
I was really excited to read this book and had to wait months to get it from the library. I had seen the author interviewed on several TV programs & he was great.
In short, this book is WAYYY too long.I've never thought about the book editor before, but while the info is good, it is repeated too much.If it was half the length it would be a much more powerful book.The book is about the global food system, and how government policy and large corporations have changed the way we eat, grow food
Jan 23, 2015 Caroline rated it liked it
Starts out with a tantalizing overview of agriculture but devolves by the last chapter into a hash of statistics about anything from bulimia to diabetes with a smattering of anecdotes about French cheese thrown in for good measure. I can think of about 15 things Raj could have chosen from to focus on instead of trying to write a book about everything without giving anything the attention to detail that it deserves. Considerable time is devoted to describing the soy industry in Brazil, so that pa ...more
Howie Kahekili
Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel gives readers a thorough understanding on how the United States is both well-off and in poverty. Fortunately, this book taps into the problematic system of fair trade items as well as consumerism. Not many Americans focus where their food comes from. Most Americans rather enjoy their food rather than learn about it. This is an on-going problem in America because not many people pay attention to the nutrients with their food or how their food actually get onto the ...more
Sep 28, 2009 Ann rated it really liked it
Powerful quite readable about the world food system and how fucked up it is, why there is so much soy and various other additives in our food, how Monsanto is a big bully, how CSAs are great and about the Via Campesina and other farmer movements that are fighting back. You wont want to eat some things after reading this though nor patronize WalMart, and you will think twice about the supermarket system!
Didn't enjoy (odd word to use I know) this as much as I thought and ended up flipping quickly through the last two thirds.

Patel tells me what I already know in grinding, depressing detail. But don't let that put you off, if you know little or nothing about the global food situtation then read this book, get a little depressed...then act.
Aug 08, 2010 Geoffrey rated it liked it
An incredibly detailed account of the global food system, I wanted to love this book but it fell victim to its own wordiness and lack of focus and style. How you write is still as important as about what you choose to write.
Sep 21, 2009 Ansley rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this book, or at least the conclusion.

Patel's most powerful line, regarding our food system: "We either own it by action or are implicated by indifference."

Don't be indifferent!
Mar 30, 2008 Sokari rated it liked it
Shelves: social-justice
The global food industry laid bear. How the poor are starved in order for profit while consumers in the rich countries are squeezed and cheated into buying cheap poor quality fat saturated addictive food.
Ruth Feathers
Aug 02, 2015 Ruth Feathers rated it it was amazing
I want to say "white people's problems", but it's so much more.
Aug 04, 2015 Ffiamma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
saggio estremamente interessante in cui raj patel, in maniera globale, analizza il sistema legato al cibo e agli squilibri che il mercato alimentare ha portato nel mondo. dallo strapotere delle multinazionali, alle vessazioni subite dai contadini, dai motivi della malnutrizioni in buona parte del pianeta (e conseguente sovrabbondanza in altri paesi), alle imposizioni della grande distribuzione- in modo chiaro, documentato e fruibile. da leggere per indignarsi e capire quanto sia insostenibile pe ...more
Apr 02, 2014 Naomi rated it really liked it
I'm a farmer as well as clergy, so it is not surprising that I should be concerned with the ethics and practices of our global and local food systems. Raj Patel makes many excellent points about the global food system. Although I am a fan of local community organizing around sustainable and local food ways, I do think businesses of medium and large, if not always multinational size, will be necessary to help shift food back to a more sustainable way that does not result in even more food shortag ...more
Dec 11, 2010 Harrison rated it really liked it
Shelves: justice, favorites
The public understanding of where our food comes from is deeply misinformed, rooted more in a pastoral myth than in reality. The real story of our supermarket shelves is complex, but in Stuffed and Starved Raj Patel expertly guides the reader through the systems of modern food production to reveal the profound injustice ingrained in their structure.

We enter this narrative with stories of farmer suicides, a rising trend in the global south as more and more farmers find themselves in inescapable d
Oct 04, 2012 Brenton rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is another one of those books that I had expected to really like, only to find it fairly disappointing.

For starters, I really disliked Patel's citation style. Maybe it's a British thing, but he only used endnotes, even for somewhat useful asides. So I was never sure whether a reference note would send me to some interesting tidbit or just a citation. And those were bad, too, just an author name and year. So then you'd probably have to hunt through his references section to figure out what t
Corrie Beebe
Jun 22, 2012 Corrie Beebe rated it really liked it
An in depth, and somewhat academic look at the world food system. This book isn't just about bashing Agribusiness, it tells a story of how the current food system came about, the damage to people and planet, and how in reality it all comes down to power, politics and, of course, money. While this book isn't as readable as Michael Pollan's books (due to a more academic tone) the information is well researched and accessible. One particular factor I enjoyed was the international approach. Patel ta ...more
Nov 06, 2012 Kriegslok rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At some point in his book Patel quotes Friedmen who commented that the “Hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist”. Most of this book is about exposing the lie of the market, as it is commonly supposed to be, and revealing the central role of the often not so hidden, if silken, fist. By looking at each stage of the chain of the production of our food and providing thorough case studies Patel paints a rather depressing picture of an industry that is not only bad for the st ...more
David Gleeson
Jun 03, 2008 David Gleeson rated it it was amazing
A very digestible read for the consumer that’s liable to provoke dyspepsia in the bellies of food giants and governments alike.
In taking a moralistic view of starvation and obesity, our media, governments and many NGOs have condemned those suffering to more of the same. While the institutional causes remain unaddressed – in large part thanks to public sector responsibility being abdicated to private sector interests – we can only expect more headlines about food riots and editorials on farmer s
Dec 06, 2010 Billy rated it it was amazing
An absolutely fantastic, well-researched, and very readable book about the global food system. Raj Patel obviously has a strong bias against the policies of the WTO, international food distributors, and super stores like Wal-Mart, but his arguments against them seem very well founded. This book really opened my eyes to the systemic problems that help to keep farmers poor and suicidal, food distributors rich, and consumers overweight and obese. He also points to a number of possible solutions, in ...more
Apr 23, 2008 Ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I hope this book gets widely read, it's couldn't be more timely, and cuts through a lot of bullshit without cutting any corners on the way to its powerful conclusions.

Will post a link to review when I write one, in the meantime, I have to post this paragraph on Haiti, as I've been thinking a lot about my brothers and sisters there:

p.87 “Just as workers in Europe and the US resisted the poverty of life in new cities’ slums, so did the slaves whose labour kept food prices low for the white working
Dec 22, 2011 Laura rated it it was ok
I read this hoping to get a better grasp of the world food system and so be able to make better personal choices when it comes to food. This was not a good place to start. Patel has clearly done an impressive amount of research, but his presentation is painfully dry and jumps all over. I feel like I have been exposed to an overwhelming quantity of facts, but still don't have any sense of how they really fit together. And given how cherry-picked his presentation of the US immigration system was, ...more
May 12, 2010 Justin rated it really liked it
This book makes a splendid introductory text to the evils of the modern food system. I can say that because it was my introduction and I feel well introduced. You may have suspected that there was something rotten about the modern alimentary chain and Raj Patel will tell you exactly what. It starts with the nifty premise that the world’s overfed and underfed have something in common: they’re both getting played by multinational food interests. It explores that connection from the top of the supp ...more
Eric Wood
Oct 31, 2013 Eric Wood rated it liked it
FIRST REVIEW! It only seems fitting that my first review for Goodreads is on a book given to me by my friend who not only introduced me to Goodreads, she has inspired me to seriously step up my reading game!

Stuffed & Starved has information that is vital to understanding the complexities, contradictions, and injustices of our world’s food system. Raj Patel has the credentials and has done the research to provide a compelling story that covers (1) how the system is controlled and “shaped by f
Nov 04, 2011 Katie rated it really liked it
Very interesting book about the global food system, corporate agribusiness giants, and how all this has shaped the things we eat every day (in really fundamental ways). Did you know that there are tons of species of apples that you will never get to eat, just because they don't grow well, or preserve well, or have tough enough skins, or generally have attributes that make them ideal for storing, preserving, and shipping long distances? There were lots of interesting factoids like this in the boo ...more
Sep 17, 2009 Meera rated it really liked it
Recommended to Meera by: Cosmopolitan Book Club (March Selection)
Shelves: other-book-clubs
This book was very educational for me, as I didn't know much about world food systems. It describes the origins of famines, the increasing rates of obesity and malnutrition world-wide, and how they are all tied to corporate food enterprises that have monopolies over seeds, soy, cattle, etc - and price foods 40-100 times greater than what the worker that plowed the fields got for these products.

It comes at a very appropriate time, since books about food culture seem to be all the rage at the mom
Patrick Tsai
Jun 25, 2013 Patrick Tsai rated it really liked it
It's a great overview of how the current food system has created inequalities in wealth, health and produced a class of displaced, poor,unskilled people. It begins with the international perspective, looking at corporate control, trade/foreign aid and the World Bank/International Monetary Fund's influence in creating an agricultural system unfairly weighted towards the agribusiness biotech "solution" to address food security. Throughout, Patel recounts the stories of farmers and communities that ...more
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Raj Patel has worked for the World Bank and WTO and been tear-gassed on four continents protesting against them. Writer, activist, and academic, he is currently a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Centre for African Studies, a researcher at the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and a fellow at The Institute for Food and Development Policy, also known as Food First.
More about Raj Patel...

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