Politics

Book Roast: “Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know”

In this 2010 book Robert Paarlberg takes a Q & A approach to a broad set of food and agriculture topics, covering aid and trade, obesity and famine, organic farming and genetically engineered (GE) organisms, and the food system’s effects on health and environment, among others. The work is a self-proclaimed attempt at “rebalancing some debates around food and farming” for “an aware audience of non-specialists.” And on the whole, its strength lies in its accessible style and the common myths it dispels: how buying local produce, for example, is not necessarily more environmentally friendly or the fact that global market food prices do not automatically increase local consumer costs.

For all its breadth, however, the book is beset by problems. Read More »

10 Things I Bet You Didn’t Know About Food

Food is a key part of everyone’s lives. It is also, however, at the core of many of the world’s problems and disagreements. Today, Development Roast brings you ten roasting facts that we bet you didn’t know about food.
1. 15 species of cultivated plants “literally stand between man and starvation” because they make up 80-90% of all globally consumed calories.

2. Sugar was unheard of in England in 1000AD, yet by 1900s it made up 20% of all caloric intake. Whilst Soy, domesticated as far back as 3000BC, is now a vital component of 75% of all products on supermarket shelves, including chocolate and is in most products sold  by fast food industry. Read More »

Lazy, Greedy Gluttons? Is obesity really such an individual problem?

It is no secret that the world is getting fatter. Lazy, greedy gluttons! If only you would just put down the burger, eat a banana and go for a jog. Right? Is it really that simple? I mean Weight Watchers tells us it’s all about point scoring and will power and the occasional leaflet from the NHS insists it’s a matter of your 5-a-day, so what is wrong with us? Why are there now 1.5 billion adults and 43 million children overweight or obese worldwide, rising by a staggering 214% since the 1950s? Yes, some of it lies in self-control. We are not stupid, we all know a stick of celery is healthier than a stick of Twix. But since this is such a widespread phenomenon, I don’t think it all lies in the choices we make. Is it perhaps also genetic? I find it hard to believe that the rate of evolution is so rapid that in a generation or two a third of Americans and Brits and 24% of all Mexicans have now developed the obesity gene, with around another third being at least overweight. So if it is not entirely us or our DNA, then what on earth is going on? Well, the fact that the rate of childhood obesity in Mexican kids is highly correlated with their proximity to the US border should serve a clue. Read More »

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