There is a passage towards the end of Raj Patel’s book, Stuffed and Starved, which elevates its author to the rank of soothsayer. He wrote it at the beginning of 2007, well before the roar of anger about rising food prices that resounded across the planet and that he so uncannily and accurately predicted.
The passage begins with Patel’s summary of earlier sections of the book in which he depicts the wasteland, as he calls it, of the modern food system. It is a system that destroys rural communities, poisons poor city dwellers, is inhumane to animals, demands unsustainable levels of use of fossil fuels and water, contributes to global warming, spreads disease and limits our sensuousness and compassion. As if that litany wasn’t enough, he then adds this: “Perhaps most ironic, although it is controlled by some of the most powerful people on the planet, the food system is inherently weak. It has systemic and structural vulnerabilities that lie close to the surface of our daily lives. All it takes to expose them is a gentle jolt.”