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Bet the Farm: How Food Stopped Being Food

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Bet the Farm: How Food Stopped Being Food Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Praise for Bet the Farm

"Kaufman makes a convincing and terrifying case that the same merchant bankers who destroyed our housing market—and economy—five years ago are at it again. This time their target is the world's food supply."

—Barry Estabrook, author of Tomatoland

"Frederick Kaufman's great skill as a writer is to know when to be an ing??nue and when an outraged critic in his journey through the international food system. In going toe-to-toe with everything from a runaway pizza machine to Bill Gates, he goes to the heart of a complex world and shares why you should be angry. That makes this the best kind of journalism—one from which no one emerges unscathed, nor any reader finishes unmoved."

—Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved

"In Bet the Farm, Frederick Kaufman connects the dots between the food commodity markets and world hunger. Kaufman is a wonderfully entertaining writer, able to make the most arcane details of such matters as wheat futures crystal clear. Readers will be alternately amused and appalled by his accounts of relief agencies and the interventions of rich nations. This book is a must-read for anyone who cares about feeding the hungry in today's globalized food marketplace. It's on the reading list for my NYU classes."

—Marion Nestle, author of Why Calories Count and Food Politics

"'Eating is an agricultural act,' as Wendell Berry said, but Frederick Kaufman shows, undeniably, that it is an economic act as well. Bet the Farm describes a global food system that has made food and money indecipherable, where what we eat is determined not by the seasons, but by the ebb and flow of market forces. It's a compelling portrait of a system on the edge of crisis, and a necessary call for change."

—Dan Barber, chef, author, and activist

"Since time immemorial, the most important human question has been 'What (if anything) is for dinner?' This book explains how that question is being answered (badly) for our planet right now—the forces that are driving us to human and ecological despair."

—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

"This is more than a book about food. It's a book about how to revise our usual ways of thinking."

—Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

"This story should have been on the front page of the New York Times."

—Jami Floyd, Political Analyst, MSNBC

Review:

"In this energetic, wide-ranging work of investigative journalism, Harper's editor Kaufman argues that the new food revolution involves collateral products and processes, not food itself. He discusses Big Food through specific products and goes far behind the curtain of corporate processes and practices. The book is often a stew of figures, from dollars to statistics with an alphabet soup of organizational acronyms and italicized buzzwords for flavor. Along the way, it probes the complications of marrying apparent incompatibles such as free market economics and slow food, how food-related information converts to capital, and how technology facilitates and oversimplifies the industry. Hunger, the lack of food, is often Kaufman's subtext and eventually evolves into his main. Yet this is neither dry argumentative soup nor antiglobalization polemic, and the villains aren't black and white; Kaufman's tone is subtly ironic without being snarky — a nice addition to Michael Pollan." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

A prominent food journalist follows the trail from Big Pizza to square tomatoes to exploding food prices to Wall Street, trying figure out why we can't all have healthy, delicious, affordable food

In 2008, farmers grew enough to feed twice the world's population, yet more people starved than ever before—and most of them were farmers. In Bet the Farm, food writer Kaufman sets out to discover the connection between the global food system and why the food on our tables is getting less healthy and less delicious even as the the world's biggest food companies and food scientists say things are better than ever. To unravel this riddle, he moves down the supply chain like a detective solving a mystery, revealing a force at work that is larger than Monsanto, McDonalds or any of the other commonly cited culprits—and far more shocking.

Kaufman's recent cover story for Harper's, "The Food Bubble," provoked controversy throughout the food world, and led to appearances on the NBC Nightly News, MSNBC, Fox Business News, Democracy Now, and Bloomberg TV, along with features on National Public Radio and the BBC World Service.

  • Visits the front lines of the food supply system and food politics as Kaufman visits farms, food science research labs, agribusiness giants, the United Nations, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and more
  • Explains how food has been financialized and the powerful consequences of this change, including: the Arab Spring, started over rising food prices; farmers being put out of business; food scientists rushing to make easy-to-transport, homogenized ingredients instead of delicious foods
  • Explains how the push for sustainability in food production is more likely to make everything worse, rather than better—and how the rise of fast food is bad for us, but catastrophic for those who will never even see a McNugget or frozen pizza

Synopsis:

In the last half decade, the world has seen two devastating spikes in the price of food, and a third may be on the way. In 2008 and 2010, farmers gathered record wheat harvests, yet more people starved than ever before—and most of them were farmers. How is that possible?

In Bet the Farm, Harper's magazine contributing editor Frederick Kaufman investigates the hidden connection between global food and global finance by asking the simple question: Why can't delicious, inexpensive, and healthy food be available to everyone on Earth?

You will find his discoveries shocking.

Like a detective intent on solving a mystery, Kaufman travels from the corporate headquarters of Domino's Pizza and Tyson Foods to Walmart's sustainability research center, to mega-farms and organic farms and numerous genetic modification laboratories. Kaufman goes to Rome to the meeting of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, and finally ends up on Wall Street and the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where he discovers the answer to the riddle. His investigation reveals that money pouring into the global derivatives market in grain futures is having astonishing consequences that reach far beyond your dinner table, including the Arab Spring, bankrupt farmers, starving masses, and armies of scientists creating new GMO foods with U.S. marketing and shipping needs in mind instead of global nutrition.

Our food is getting less healthy, less delicious, and more expensive even as the world's biggest food companies and food scientists say things are better than ever and that the rest of us should leave it to them to feed the world. Readers of Bet the Farm will glimpse the power behind global food and understand what truly supports the system that has brought mass misery to our planet.

About the Author

FREDERICK KAUFMAN is a contributing editor at Harper's and teaches at the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. He has written about American food culture for Foreign Policy, Wired, the New Yorker, Gourmet, the New York Times Magazine, and others. He has spoken about food justice and food politics at the General Assembly of the UN and appeared on MSNBC, Fox Business News, Democracy Now!, and public radio's Radiolab, On the Media, and the BBC World Service.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Closed to the Press 1

Part I Looking for a Slice

1 A Marvel of Technology 7

2 The Domino’s Effect 19

3 The Measure of All Things 37

4 What’s New for Dinner 57

Part II Looking for the Killer App(etizer)

5 The Nucleotidal Wave 75

6 The Code 95

Part III Looking for a Leader

7 Circus Maximus 111

8 A Short History of Wheat Futures 129

9 The Food Bubble 151

10 Let Them Eat Cash 171

Part IV Looking for Money

11 Fresh Water and a Shotgun 193

12 The Price 205

13 Hard Red Spring 223

14 The Bubble Business 237

Epilogue: Return to Reality 255

Acknowledgments 257

Index 260

Product Details

ISBN:
9780470631928
Author:
Kaufman, Frederick
Publisher:
Wiley (TP)
Subject:
United States - General
Subject:
U. S. history
Subject:
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global food supply, world food supply, global food supply chain, world food supply chain, food crisis, global food crisis, food production, sustainable food production, food producers, agribusiness, agritechnology, agri-technology, agri-tech, agritech, fo
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Subject:
global food supply, world food supply, global food supply chain, world food supply chain, food crisis, global food crisis, food production, sustainable food production, food producers, agribusiness, agritechnology, agri-technology, agri-tech, agritech, fo
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Subject:
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Subject:
US History-General
Subject:
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glo
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Subject:
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Subject:
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Subject:
global food supply, world food supply, global food supply chain, world food supply chain, food crisis, global food crisis, food production, sustainable food production, food producers, agribusiness, agritechnology, agri-technology, agri-tech, agritech, fo
Subject:
global food supply, world food supply, global food supply chain, world food supply chain, food crisis, global food crisis, food production, sustainable food production, food producers, agribusiness, agritechnology, agri-technology, agri-tech, agritech, fo
Subject:
global food supply, world food supply, global food supply chain, world food supply chain, food crisis, global food crisis, food production, sustainable food production, food producers, agribusiness, agritechnology, agri-technology, agri-tech, agritech, fo
Subject:
global food supply, world food supply, global food supply chain, world food supply chain, food crisis, global food crisis, food production, sustainable food production, food producers, agribusiness, agritechnology, agri-technology, agri-tech, agritech, fo
Subject:
global food supply, world food supply, global food supply chain, world food supply chain, food crisis, global food crisis, food production, sustainable food production, food producers, agribusiness, agritechnology, agri-technology, agri-tech, agritech, fo
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20120926
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
8.74 x 5.83 x 1.05 in

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Bet the Farm: How Food Stopped Being Food New Hardcover
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Product details 272 pages John Wiley & Sons - English 9780470631928 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this energetic, wide-ranging work of investigative journalism, Harper's editor Kaufman argues that the new food revolution involves collateral products and processes, not food itself. He discusses Big Food through specific products and goes far behind the curtain of corporate processes and practices. The book is often a stew of figures, from dollars to statistics with an alphabet soup of organizational acronyms and italicized buzzwords for flavor. Along the way, it probes the complications of marrying apparent incompatibles such as free market economics and slow food, how food-related information converts to capital, and how technology facilitates and oversimplifies the industry. Hunger, the lack of food, is often Kaufman's subtext and eventually evolves into his main. Yet this is neither dry argumentative soup nor antiglobalization polemic, and the villains aren't black and white; Kaufman's tone is subtly ironic without being snarky — a nice addition to Michael Pollan." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , A prominent food journalist follows the trail from Big Pizza to square tomatoes to exploding food prices to Wall Street, trying figure out why we can't all have healthy, delicious, affordable food

In 2008, farmers grew enough to feed twice the world's population, yet more people starved than ever before—and most of them were farmers. In Bet the Farm, food writer Kaufman sets out to discover the connection between the global food system and why the food on our tables is getting less healthy and less delicious even as the the world's biggest food companies and food scientists say things are better than ever. To unravel this riddle, he moves down the supply chain like a detective solving a mystery, revealing a force at work that is larger than Monsanto, McDonalds or any of the other commonly cited culprits—and far more shocking.

Kaufman's recent cover story for Harper's, "The Food Bubble," provoked controversy throughout the food world, and led to appearances on the NBC Nightly News, MSNBC, Fox Business News, Democracy Now, and Bloomberg TV, along with features on National Public Radio and the BBC World Service.

  • Visits the front lines of the food supply system and food politics as Kaufman visits farms, food science research labs, agribusiness giants, the United Nations, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and more
  • Explains how food has been financialized and the powerful consequences of this change, including: the Arab Spring, started over rising food prices; farmers being put out of business; food scientists rushing to make easy-to-transport, homogenized ingredients instead of delicious foods
  • Explains how the push for sustainability in food production is more likely to make everything worse, rather than better—and how the rise of fast food is bad for us, but catastrophic for those who will never even see a McNugget or frozen pizza

"Synopsis" by , In the last half decade, the world has seen two devastating spikes in the price of food, and a third may be on the way. In 2008 and 2010, farmers gathered record wheat harvests, yet more people starved than ever before—and most of them were farmers. How is that possible?

In Bet the Farm, Harper's magazine contributing editor Frederick Kaufman investigates the hidden connection between global food and global finance by asking the simple question: Why can't delicious, inexpensive, and healthy food be available to everyone on Earth?

You will find his discoveries shocking.

Like a detective intent on solving a mystery, Kaufman travels from the corporate headquarters of Domino's Pizza and Tyson Foods to Walmart's sustainability research center, to mega-farms and organic farms and numerous genetic modification laboratories. Kaufman goes to Rome to the meeting of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, and finally ends up on Wall Street and the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where he discovers the answer to the riddle. His investigation reveals that money pouring into the global derivatives market in grain futures is having astonishing consequences that reach far beyond your dinner table, including the Arab Spring, bankrupt farmers, starving masses, and armies of scientists creating new GMO foods with U.S. marketing and shipping needs in mind instead of global nutrition.

Our food is getting less healthy, less delicious, and more expensive even as the world's biggest food companies and food scientists say things are better than ever and that the rest of us should leave it to them to feed the world. Readers of Bet the Farm will glimpse the power behind global food and understand what truly supports the system that has brought mass misery to our planet.

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