food security

Too many mouths to feed? Get stuffed

Food prices aren’t rising because the Earth is full. But Malthusian commentators are certainly full of BS.

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Produce more food not fewer people

It is not rising population levels that lead to food-price crises - it is economic underdevelopment.

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Food price rises starting to look serious

Prices are now at or above the crisis levels of 2008 for many food commodities. But that time, there was a strong element of speculation involved. It will be interesting to see how much of the current price rise has similar roots. Rising oil prices - now at $95 per barrel - won’t be helping, though.

World food prices enter 'danger territory' to reach record high, Guardian

Proof at last: eating meat is not bad for the environment

It turns out that all those green claims that we could save the planet by foreswearing meat were BS. Unfortunately, in the process of exposing this fact, Simon Fairlie still recycles many modern-day eco-prejudices.

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Cuba’s food revolution

Much has been made about Cuba’s post-oil farming: lots of urban agriculture and almost entirely organic. But Cuba still has to import 70 per cent of its food and, presumably to the despair of organic food supporters in the UK, has been developing its own genetically modified crops.

Cuba's food revolution, The Food Magazine

Britain needs factory farming

Very good piece by Jason Smith on the new ‘mega-dairy’ in Lincolnshire and why we should be seeking greater productivity from agriculture rather than mythologising the benefits of small-scale farming.

In defence of factory farming, spiked

Where to find the hungry

A very revealing infographic from the Guardian. Interesting that over a third of the world’s malnourished people live in China and India, which suggests that these countries still have an awful lot of developing to do despite the very significant progress of recent years. On the other hand, if you change the graphic to look at the proportion of the population that is going hungry, there are clearly very many countries that are far worse off.

Where are the hungry people? Undernourished populations, million, Guardian

I want to eat food, not build my entire life around it

This piece on Grist sums up very nicely the trouble with eco-foodieism. Ignoring any possible benefits of industrialised food production, it simply demands - from the point of view of a small, specialist farmer - that we pay more for food, only eat seasonally, even be prepared to work for free for a farmer, eat parts of animals we really don’t want to eat to avoid waste, and so on.

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How food price spikes are a product of fear

Interesting piece by Robert Paarlberg that dismisses many of the usual explanations for food price spikes - Chinese demand, crop failure, biofuels - and puts it on over-reaction in the commodities markets: poor harvests lead to panic buying which brings in speculators which leads to export bans which leads to more speculation and panic buying.

How grain markets sow the spikes they fear, Financial Times

The myth of local food’s benefits

Matt Ridley comments on Steve Budiansky’s theory of why ‘distant food’ is better than ‘local food’. The real energy user in the chain is, apparently, food preparation and storage. Modern agriculture uses comparatively little energy. But it does give us reliability of supply compared to the days when a local famine meant local starvation.

Budiansky and local food, Rational Optimist

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About Panic on a Plate

Once we worried about getting enough food. Now we seem to fret about having too much food, or about what food might do to us and the planet. This website is designed to be an antidote to food fears.

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Panic on a Plate: How Society Developed An Eating Disorder is published by Societas. Buy the book from Amazon (UK) here.

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