Food

Jennifer Clapp

Overview

Food is one of the most basic resources that humans need for daily survival. Forty percent of world’s population gains a livelihood from agriculture and we all consume food. Yet control over this fundamental resource is concentrated in relatively few hands. The 2008 food price crisis illustrated both the volatility and vulnerability built into the current global food system; at the height of the crisis, the number of hungry people on the planet climbed to over 1 billion. At the same time, there are serious ecological consequences that stem from an increasingly industrial model of agriculture that has spread worldwide.

This book aims to contribute to a fuller understanding of the forces that influence and shape the current global food system. Author Jennifer Clapp explores how corporate control, inequitable international agricultural trade rules, and the financialization of farm commodities have each had a fundamental influence on the practices that dominate today’s global food system. By contrast, farmers and consumers, particularly in the developing world, have had little voice to change the rules of the game. But movements are emerging to challenge the dominant global system. The extent to which these alternative movements can displace it, however, remains to be seen.

About the Author

Jennifer Clapp is professor and CIGI Chair in global environmental governance in the Department of Environment and Resource Studies and the Balsillie School of International Affairs at the University of Waterloo.

Contents

List of Abbreviations
List of Figures and Tables

  1. Unpacking the World Food Economy
  2. The Rise of a Global Industrial Food Market
  3. Uneven Agricultural Trade Rules
  4. Transnational Corporations
  5. Financialization of Food
  6. Can the World Food Economy Be Transformed?

Notes
Selected Readings
Index

Endorsements

“In this admirably clear exposition Clapp explains the increasing 'financialisation' of and speculation in food commodities. Will sub-prime eaters be blamed for some future market crash? It makes you think twice about a second breakfast.”

— The Guardian

“Clapp explains in a clear and concise way that food is not only a simple source of nourishment, but it also represents a political issue that connects us all. Definitely a good guide for anyone who is trying to orientate themselves in the economic global jumble.”

— Global Journal

“In an increasingly complex argument that Clapp does well to unmuddy, she shows how the development of the world food economy is not the full picture - hers is a story that needs to be heard.”

— Irish Examiner

“An excellent diagnostic about the constitution, evolution and the challenges of the global food system, making it indispensible for development practitioners, policy makers, social movements, academics interested in learning about the emerging field of food studies, as well as all those who would like to understand (and eventually transform) the distribution of power in the food system.”

— Journal of International Development

“A fascinating glimpse inside the food machine.”

— Cost Sector Catering

“Clapp does a fantastic job in opening up a space herself to act upon global injustices in the world food economy by shortening the mental distance that exists between us, food consumers, and the social, economic and ecological relationships associated with the food we eat.”

— Global Policy Journal

“Covering the most salient features of the global food economy in just a couple of hundred pages is a pretty daunting task, but it is one which Jennifer Clapp manages to achieve ... A finely detailed and well researched volume.”

— Morning Star

“A sharp, concise and satisfyingly detailed field-guide to the hegemons of the world food economy.”

— Raj Patel, author of The Value of Nothing

“Jennifer Clapp explains what happens when food is no longer considered a mere source of nourishment or cultural element but is transformed into a fungible commodity. Clapp unpacks and clarifies the mind-numbing complexities of transnational corporations, international trade, and financial markets. Best of all, the book provides precisely the information and tools advocates need to redesign the global food economy to promote fair trade, food justice, and food sovereignty.”

— Marion Nestle, New York University

“This excellent book explains why food has become a hot political issue on the global stage. The author clearly knows her subject and offers an insightful, engaging, and highly accessible introduction to the global food economy.”

— Robert Falkner, London School of Economics and Political Science