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Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System - Revised and Updated

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  1,840 Ratings  ·  185 Reviews
How can starving people also be obese? Why does everything have soy in it? How do petrochemicals and biofuels control the price of food? It's a perverse fact of modern life: There are more starving people in the world than ever before (800 million) while there are also more people overweight (1 billion). To find out how we got to this point and what we can do about it, Raj ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Melville House (first published 2007)
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May 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Un saggio piuttosto interessante sull'argomento alimentazione, che si concentra molto su alcuni aspetti di questo mondo (ad esempio, la produzione agricola, lo sfruttamento delle risorse del pianeta, il rapporto fra cibo, produttori, intermediari e consumatori, il funzionamento del mercato dell'alimentazione) e li approfondisce in maniera precisa, accurata e "scientifica", affiancando alle sue ricerche dati numerici e grafici.
Avendo già un'infarinatura su questo genere di argomenti, ho trovato
Jun 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 14, 2009 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
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 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Mar 30, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Oct 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
yikes! very in depth read
Ruth Feathers
Feb 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I want to say "white people's problems", but it's so much more.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this book a while ago and was impressed by its thorough - and often shocking - exploration of the many issues with the way our food is produced and sold. I didn't get around to writing up my notes on it at the time as it was so full of detailed examples that I found it hard to summarise. This paragraph from the book's conclusion does quite a good job though:
"Unless you're a corporate food executive, the food system isn't working for you. Around the world, farmers and farmworkers are dyin
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is not for everyone. It digs deep into our global food system, painting a negative picture and explaining the consequences of decades of policy, war and growth of industrialized food. If you're interested in our food system, and already have a good understanding of it, pick this book up. For me, it gave me a broader understanding of the economics of our food system to build on my nutritional base. Despite the depressing state of our current food system, Raj weaves in social movements t ...more
Alice Chau-Ginguene
Very comprehensive book on the matter of current food production, supply and consumption problem in the world. It's a very general book of which each chapter touches on one particular problem of food supply chain. I have read a lot of books on this subject matter. As a result, I already know a lot of the arguments mentioned in this world. I didn't give it a 5 star because it didn't particularly impress me but it's a very good book if someone just started getting curious about how part of the wor ...more
Aug 02, 2011 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
Jun 20, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I hated the way this book was written, it felt like a university assignment that was turned into a book.
Lots of unnecessary convoluted sentences and difficult words chosen. Left it half way even when I tried to read the most interesting bits I still couldn't get past the language used and the way it was written
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an important book. If you are interested in the global food industry and its impact on the world's residents this is a must read. Very accessible, well written. I learned so much about food corporations and their impact on the world and organizations that are trying to make good, healthy food a viable choice for everyone.
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food, nonfiction
this took a while for me to get into and read, but I'm glad I stuck it out.
reminds me of the omnivore's dilemma in terms of volume of information, but this focused more on the global scale.
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A dense (yet comprehensive) read about the hidden mechanisms that operate and control our global food network. Be prepared for a shock as Raj Patel intelligently deconstructs everything you think you know about food.
Dec 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 23, 2008 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
Eric Wood
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jun 09, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Patel's book contains some alarming and resonant chapter full of specific information about community-level outrages perpetrated in a calculating and anonymous way by big players in the food industry. Spotlighting the trauma caused by the food system is Patel's strength; exploring its history and discussing its alternatives, somewhat less so. The first 80 pages are a clear, graph-spattered introduction to the tactics that agricultural giants and powerful economies use to ensure that their produc ...more
Aug 30, 2012 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
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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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