chapter  1
11 Pages

Introduction

The ‘cheap food argument’: I hear it weekly. There was the instance, at a recent global food security conference, where an audience member was lambasted by someone on an expert panel for questioning the logic of the current food system: ‘I’m interested in feeding the world, in producing as much food as cheaply and as efficiently as possible. What do you have against cheap food?’ The audience member responded with a look of indignation but no words. Agricultural professionals, consumers, politicians and producers make the point repeatedly: if there was a more efficient (aka cheaper) way to produce, process and distribute food, we would be doing it. As evidenced by that silent rebuttal, the cheap food argument is quite powerful. It’s an ace in the hole for proponents of the status quo. Whenever pressed into a corner, it can be pulled out at a moment’s notice. Like at that global food security conference: ‘What do you have against cheap food?’ Check and mate.