chapter  9
21 Pages

Cheap food

Who wins?
WithMichael Carolan

Cheap food produces a lot of losers, contributing handily to the displacement of millions of smallholder farmers, fuelling conflicts, retarding the development of entire swathes of the globe, costing the environment, and expanding waistlines while simultaneously increasing food insecurity. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: "For the coming decade, global agriculture will see rising prices for crops and livestock—but those prices will be flat when adjusted for inflation, and projected higher energy costs will keep pushing farmers' input costs upward". The world's top 21 food-producing countries, which are collectively responsible for almost 80 percent of global agricultural markets, provide just under US$500 billion in subsidies. The financialization of food is still a new frontier—it wasn't even mentioned in the first edition of Cheap Food. Increasing food prices are problematic enough, for obvious reasons, as it is hard to keep one's self and one's family fed when food is expensive.