The New Yorker drops a lengthy and sobering piece this week that looks at the depressing state of the world's food-supply system as detailed in four "second-wave" food-politics books.
Where "first wave" books (such as Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation) leave off at the ill effects of junk food, the new crop of books looks at how "the entire system of Western food production is in need of radical change."
Referencing English demographer and political economist Thomas Malthus along with these books, the New Yorker article argues that, as a whole, the planet is not suffering from a shortage of food but from too much: "Our ability to produce vastly too many calories for our basic needs has skewed the concept of demand, and generated a wildly dysfunctional market."
It's a market in which one billion overweight humans fed on factory-farmed protein and stocks of depleted fish outnumber eight-hundred million who go hungry. A classic case of haves vs. have-nots but with dire consequences that we're already beginning to see. "What we are witnessing is not the end of food but a market on the brink of failure. Those bearing the brunt are, as in Malthus’s day, the people at the bottom."
The second-wave books discussed are The End of Food, Paul Roberts; Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System, Raj Patel; Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood, Taras Grescoe; and In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, Michael Pollan.