Food Rebellions!

Food Rebellions!

Crisis and the Hunger for Justice
According to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, the number of malnourished people exceeded one billion for the first time in 2009. What's more, it's clear this isn’t just as a result of a growing world population as the figure represents an 11 per cent increase in just a year. It’s a direct effect of the food crisis that pushed up food prices so dramatically in early 2008 and so far has kept them relatively high.

- James O'Nions, Red Pepper

Why are people fighting for food in some parts of the world while there are excesses in others? What role do international organisations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)play in this matter? Are people concerned about this state of affairs and what do they have to say about it? Is there really not enough food to feed the world? Are technological innovations the only way to feed our populations? What about our future: is the current food system really a sustainable one?

- Manmeet Kaur, Development in Practice, vol 20, no. 7, September 2010

The many recent books on the global food crisis continue to emphasise its urgency. Holt-Giménez and Patel take the position that the food crisis is not due to the planet's overpopulation and the allegedly resulting lack of food. Rather, they focus on the core economic causes of this crisis – policy, institutions and the continuous drive towards increased profit. It is this focus that makes this book a critical contribution to the conversations taking place in this realm.

- Janeske Botes, New Agenda: South African Journal of Social and Economic Policy No.38, 2nd quarter 2010

In this very timely book, two of the world's most prominent critics of the global food system, Eric Holt-Giménez and Raj Patel, dissect the causes of hunger and the food price crisis, locating them in a political economy of capitalist industrial production dominated by corporations and driven by the search for profits for the few instead of the welfare of the many. The picture that emerges is a political economy of global production that is failing badly in terms of feeding the world and is itself contributing to the spread of inequalities that promote hunger.
- Walden Bello, president of the Freedom from Debt Coalition and professor of sociology at the University of the Philippines

Pambazuka News
Sep 17, 2009
PAMBAZUKA NEWS: How did Food Rebellions! come about? And why now?

RAJ PATEL/ERIC HOLT-GIMENEZ: The book was driven by Eric's vision for a text that could interpret and contextualise the wave of protest around the world that the media had referred to as 'food riots’, but which were the confluence of factors far more complex and urgent than most journalists could acknowledge. Although the academic publishing industry is now cranking out waves of anthology about the crisis, there isn’t an accessible text that brings together both a wide-ranging diagnosis of the causes of these rebellions, and also an understanding of the politics of resistance that they bear witness to. Also, a number of organisations in the food movement wanted a text that could inform a people’s campaign for solving the food crisis – we also wrote the book with them in mind. This is a working book, for real social change.

- Raj Patel and Eric Holt-Giménez, Pambazuka News

Food First
May 11, 2009
- Eric Holt-Giménez, Food First
Sep 9, 2009
This book makes a critical contribution to discussions of the current food crisis and what can be done to increase food equality, security and justice. It covers multiple global regions and in particular Africa, Latin America, Europe and the United States. I was particularly amazed by the statistics indicating that organic, smallholder, local, polycrop farms are more productive than the intensive monocropping with chemical inputs. This is a critical point. The book would have been strengthened by more expanded treatment of the pervasive arguments for GMO and Green Revolution technologies. The value of these agricultural "innovations" is assumed by a large section of those concerned with food, and who are not necessarily convinced by a significantly one-sided argument in opposition. The arguments that resonate with less financially invested individuals must be addressed at their maximum strength in order to prove convincing. This weakness, however, should in no way detract from the invaluable contributions that this book makes to projects for sustainable food security.
- Nick Jackson

The small-scale farming systems spread widely across Africa are a social and ecological asset. As Food Rebellions! demonstrates, planting indigenous trees and using traditional farming methods enhances environmental conservation and preserves local biodiversity. At a time of economic crisis, sustainable agriculture and the economic empowerment it can generate will be key to the survival of the many African families headed by women.
- Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize winner and author of The Challenge for Africa (Heinemann, 2009).

The 20th century was the century of technological revolutions. This century is that of the knowledge revolution, and Eric Holt-Giménez and Raj Patel are in its vanguard. At long last, a book which confronts the real issues: How do we reform our food systems to avoid environmental disaster? How do we recapture the production and distribution of food from the tyranny of unchecked markets? This book is vital reading for all concerned with the right to food.
- Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

Hunger is a global scandal. I would call it a global structure of sin! Claiming to solve world hunger with the industrial age's solutions the corporations of the world really only structure the world for more hunger, poverty and misery. Food Rebellions! provides an analysis that is clear, documented and searing in its challenge to the powers that be. It provides solutions appropriate to our ecological age and to a new era of food democracy and food sovereignty. It reflects the vision of those most affected by the food crisis. I strongly endorse this book and I hope that it gets a wide readership. More importantly though, I hope that it gets the support of the nations of the world suffering from hunger and poverty. It provides insights from those directly suffering from hunger and poverty, who have a right to be heard.
- Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, president of the 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations

Food Rebellions! demonstrates the imperative to protect and enhance the multifaceted knowledges, practices and lands of sustainable farmers. Contrary to some views, sustainable food systems are most helpful to the poor, especially the rural poor, who suffer the most from the dire social and ecological effects of industrial agriculture. Absent perverse subsidies to agrifood industries, what is good for farmers is also good for eaters and citizens. Holt-Giménez and Patel contribute to an urgent awakening – supported by practical experiments and expert reports – to the necessity and possibility for transforming food systems. "Like cracks in the asphalt," solutions to global food crisis can restore resilient food systems across the world.
- Harriet Friedmann, professor of sociology, University of Toronto

'Food Rebellions is a tour de force! Not only does it describe the corporate assault on the human right to food in all of its political, economic, cultural and environmental dimensions, it also documents the many ways rural and urban people are actively building alternative food systems to defend their land, water, seeds and livelihoods. These social movements and this inspiring book could not have come at a better time. In the face of multiple global crises, the growing local and international trends toward food sovereignty provide us with the hope we need to build a just and sustainable future.'
- Paul Nicholson, Ehne (Basque Farmers' Union) and Via Campesina

Food Rebellions! situates with accuracy and precision the true meaning, causes and dynamics of what is commonly referred to as the "global food crisis". It shows how skewed and dysfunctional the global food system is, and how the concentration of market power by a handful of transnational corporations translates into power over land, water, food and, indeed, life itself. In Part One, the authors trace with startling clarity the history of hunger and poverty to North–South politics of domination and gender and class inequalities. They compel us to confront the questions: Who is hungry, and why? But all is not gloom and doom. In Part Two, the authors inspire us with examples of creative and constructive resistance by food producers and workers against the capitalist driven food system and propose strategies for transforming the food system – strategies that are practical and well within the reach of anyone concerned with social and political justice. If Food Rebellions! does not make food rights activist of its readers, I don't know what will. This is a truly remarkable book.
- Shalmali Guttal, senior associate of Focus on the Global South, Bangkok, Thailand

The high and mighty proponents of free trade speak for the interests of multinational corporations when they try to stifle the economic policies that empower peasants, family farmers and farm workers to grow healthy supplies of food while protecting Mother Earth. Rather than continue down the path that led to today's economic, environmental and social catastrophe, Food Rebellions! calls on us to raise our voices in rebellion, join together, and place sustainable production and rural economic opportunity at the base of our recovery efforts.
- George Naylor, former president of the National Family Farm Coalition—USA