Friday, December 28, 2012

Book Review - Food: The New Gold


Food: The New Gold

By: Kathlyn Gay
Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0761346074
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: December 2012

Many people looked askance at the Group of Eight (G8) summit held in Japan to “discuss the global food crisis.” The banquet was almost frighteningly gluttonous in light of the topic they had come to discuss. Delicacies such as caviar and milkfed lamb were a far cry from the dirt cookies that Haitian women made to enable their families to survive. Worldwide food shortages in many areas caused food to “become a precious item---almost like gold.” Such circumstances often lead to desperation, but even though the summit was somewhat of an embarrassment, people have started to come together to try to solve the crisis and feed people on both local and global levels.

In this day and age, many of us are now very much aware of efforts to feed people in our nation who are “food insecure.” There are an astounding “thirty-five million Americans [who] are unable to buy enough food.” You’ll read about programs set in place to help them. Globally, many feel it is not enough to simply deliver food to those in need, but also to help them “grow or obtain their own food so they can be self-sufficient.” In America, the family who could once grow enough food to support and nourish themselves is gone. Giant agribusiness are at the forefront of food production as the family farm has all but vanished from the face of the landscape.

These agribusinesses “do not handle the hard, day-to-day work of planting and picking crops, milking cows, or slaughtering animals.” These farms are owned by international corporations who run them from afar. Their agricultural domination extends not only to farms, but also to things such as seed companies and food-processing plants. In the 1970s "concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs)" appeared on the scene. The entire face of agriculture and food production appeared to change overnight. In this book you’ll also read about inhumane animal treatment, human health risks, immigrant labor, CAFO contamination, health risks to the consumer, food additives, global warming and it’s affect on agriculture, Frankenfoods, genetically modified (GM) crops, and you’ll read many more fascinating facts about food, “the new gold.”

This book looks at the world’s food shortage and the “role of business, politics and the environment.” For such a far-reaching topic, Kathlyn Gay does an excellent job of researching and writing about our food crisis. I feel that this book gives the reader a good understanding of the problem and surrounding issues without becoming overly alarmist. The juxtaposition of the summit banquet and the photograph of a hungry boy waiting for a meal was an excellent way to begin the book. The book alternately will make one think about the issues while debating possible solutions. The book has numerous full-color photographs and informative sidebars. For example, one discusses the practicality of producing biofuels when crops are so sorely needed for food. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, source notes, a selected bibliography, and additional book, film, and website resources to explore.

Quill says: This is an excellent exploration of the world's food crisis that would be an excellent stepping stone to further exploration of the topic.