Ian's Reviews > Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System

Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel
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's review
Jun 09, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: muck-raking, non-fiction, policy, food

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 painted about the people that are effected by our food policies, and those presented are often enlightening.

However, given this remarkable breadth, the work comes up short due to its lack of depth. Often, the author would be working through a particular thesis or example, and leave the pages littered with unwarranted claims. I would find myself moving through a particular argument, thinking that he might provide the coup de grace for a particular practice (GMOs, NAFTA, SAPs, etc.) when he would rapidly shift gears to another argument. This was especially frustrating because I am predisposed to agree with the central tenet that there are global power structures that do not have the people's interests at heart. Rather than provide a manifesto about the abuse of power and the methods we can undertake to shift the power base back to the people, Mr. Patel settles instead for a series of interesting scenes. In then end, I felt this book could have gone further into this particular global network, but it does provide a starting point for our (global) struggle.
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Reading Progress

June 9, 2008 – Shelved
Started Reading
July 29, 2008 – Finished Reading
July 31, 2008 – Shelved as: muck-raking
July 31, 2008 – Shelved as: non-fiction
July 31, 2008 – Shelved as: policy
May 1, 2009 – Shelved as: food

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Martinxo Yes, I have to say I agree with you compeletly on this, the book disappointed me.

Menser Pretty right on. Wouldnt call it a "disappointment" but in the end it does take on too much. Also depends on how much else you've read in this area, could be a good place to start if one is new to the food-agribusiness terrain because it is fairly engaging and broad in scope. Shoulda had much more on agroecology and la via campesina for my tastes.

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