Saturday, December 09, 2017

The food revolution

The Socialist Party is a political party of the working class, for the working class, for socialism, for a sustainable future and a world without profit.

The biggest myth is that hunger and food security are the result of food scarcity. We produce one and a half times more than enough food to feed every man, woman, and child on the planet. People go hungry because they are poor and don’t have enough money to buy the food being produced. Calls to “double food production” are half a century old. Instead of ending hunger they have indebted farmers who borrow money to buy newer, bigger, and more expensive inputs, only to see prices bottom out because of a glut of food on the market.
It’s not scarcity but overproduction that is driving hunger and getting the agrifoods corporations and their shareholders very rich. Of the billion or so hungry people in the world, most are the poor farmers who actually produce 70 percent of the world’s food, but they can’t even afford to feed themselves. They don’t need expensive inputs, they need more land, access to water, and to health, education, and welfare services.
No consumer, farmer, or activist participates in the food system without also participating in capitalism. This is a basic truth that’s too often overlooked in the struggle to change our broken food system.
In his new book, A Foodie’s Guide to Capitalism, Eric Holt-Giménez describes these basic truths of capitalism and how they are connected to the history of our food system. Part history book, part practical guide, the book links many of the injustices associated with food to other inequities, arguing that capitalism fuels and is fueled by oppression. If we better understand “the rudiments of how capitalism operates,” he explains, “we can better grasp why our food system is the way it is, and how we can change it.”  Holt-Giménez said “I realized that many food activists—mostly in the U.S.—had no analysis of the root causes of the problems they were dealing with. Many people were genuinely surprised when I pointed out that we had a capitalist food system, and that it was going to act the way capitalism acted... I also provide some very basic concepts in political economy (use and exchange valuesurplus valuethe agrarian questionsocially necessary labor timeland rentparity, etc.) and show how they can be used to understand why the food system does what it does...”
 He concludes “We can’t change the food system in isolation from the capitalist system because they are systemically and historically connected...There are no magic small-scale projects that bring about whole-system transformation in and of themselves...Right now the global market makes our decisions for us—which just means the big corporations with the most market power will continue to put profits before people and before the environment. We need the concerted power of social movements to change that. Otherwise, we can be assured that whenever our hopeful alternatives really start working for us, they will be co-opted by capitalism. ..It is important to eat according to one’s values—organic, fair trade, local, etc.—but conscious consumption—essentially a market-based approach to transforming capitalism—comes up short because sooner or later capitalism ends up absorbing these products into the system.”

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