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Monday, September 22, 2008

BOOK REVIEW: The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food (by Wayne Roberts)

THE NO-NONSENSE GUIDE TO WORLD FOOD (Between the Lines, 2008, 192
pages, ISBN 978-1-897071-44-1, $16 CAD soft covers) is by Wayne
Roberts, a Toronto-based environmental activist who writes for NOW and
co-ordinates the Toronto Food Policy Council (he's also the author of
"Real Food for a Change" from 1999). It has been co-published with the
New Internationalist as one of its "No-Nonsense" series, basic guides
to activist projects albeit on a higher plane that Dummies or Idiots
series. Other series topics include animal rights, climate change, fair
trade, globalization, human rights, sexual diversity, women's rights,
and world poverty. It's a great survey of the problems that plague
global food production and distribution, all of it in the macros (since
this is a survey book) of social justice, public health, and green
economics. Of course, he brings in related systems with sustainable
living, the role of governments, the hundreds of groups that have
united (with stories behind these organizations). He deals effectively
with the hunger campaigns in Cuba and Brazil. All we see in the papers,
though, are stories about escalating food prices, high levels of
obesity, and threats to food from global warming. He tries to go behind
these stories to get at the issues by highlighting the post-World War
II evolution of a cheap food system, the government subsidies, and the
disconnect between humans and their environment. He has end notes after
each chapter, lists of international contacts and websites, and an
Audience and level of use: serious foodies, fans of Michael Pollan,
Some interesting or unusual facts: "Food production is one of the
world's dirtiest industries, doing more damage to more territory than
logging, mining or heavy industry. About 170 million food producers are
child laborers, which speaks to the poverty and mistreatment
subsidizing low food prices."
The downside to this book: I wish Roberts had spent more space talking
about Via Campesina. This really important group needed further
exploring. Also, there is no mention of biodynamic or Demeter.
The upside to this book: according to the publisher, "there are on-the-
spot reports of heartwarming experiments around the world". And there
are doable proposals. But still…
Quality/Price Rating: 94.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting book. I wonder how much mainstream attention he will receive? Hopefully more than I am guessing it will get.