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dimanche 25 mai 2008

The Last Bite

This evening I read 'The Last Bite,' a critic on the world food system by Bee Wilson, and I highly recommend that you read it all. By comparing Malthus' essay of 1798 with today's food crisis, and by analyzing recent books by authors like Michael Pollan, Raj Patel and Paul Roberts, the writer presented a bleak future for the ever-growing world population and its demands. Here's how I summarize it.

  • We eat too much, too much of the wrong things - above all, meat.
  • Our stomach is no more 'inelastic' with the Western diet; it has learnt to grow as a balloon. And new emerging economies like India and China are eating this way too now.
  • Today's food is less tasty and less nutritious, from the 'red tennis balls' that have replaced our tomatoes to the crumbly chicken meat kept artificially juicy with salts and phosphates, to the toxin laden salmon.
  • The meat industry, whether cattle, poultry or fish, is damaging the environment and our health...and we all know that. The 'poop lagoons' is something new for me though.
  • The present crisis has been created by overproduction rather than underproduction; now we have more overweight people than starving people.
  • Cheap food is a major problem intoxicating the consumers and killing farmers at the same time.
  • The apparent abundance of choice in the supermarket is a mere illusion. Aren't we eating the same vegetables every time? Isn't there soy oil in almost all products?
  • The global manufacturers and wholesalers have an interest in continuing to manipulate our desires, feeding our illusions of choice, stoking our colossal hunger.
  • Monoculture must be abandoned; the Cuban method might be a better solution.
As Michael Pollan says 'Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.' Eat food, not 'foodish' stuff, don't overeat (eat till you're full, not till the TV show is over) and reduce meat consumption. That should be a great effort on the individual basis, and a good start if we want to radically change the food system. He did a talk about his latest book 'In Defense of Food' at Authors@Google. Find some time to watch it.

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