The End of Food: The Coming Crisis in the World Food Industry

Paul Roberts

The End of Food: The Coming Crisis in the World Food Industry

With an insightful global approach, Paul Roberts investigates the startling truth about the way we make, market, consume, and even think about food, and how this system is no longer compatible or safe for the billions of consumers that it was built to serve. The emergence of large-scale and efficient food production changed forever our relationship with food and ultimately left a vulnerable and paradoxical system in place. Over 1.1 billion people worldwide are 'over-nourished,' according to the World Health Organization, and are at risk of obesity-related illness, while roughly as many people are starving. Meanwhile, the natural systems all food is dependent upon have been irreparably damaged by chemicals and destructive farming techniques.The pressures of low-cost food production cause contamination and disease, and big food consumers such as China and India are already planning for tightened global food supplies - the era of superabundance seems to be behind us. Vivid descriptions, lucid explanations, and fresh thinking make "The End of Food" uniquely able to offer a new and accessible way to understand the vulnerable miracle of the modern food economy. Roberts presents clear, stark visions of the future and helps us identify the decisions both personal and global that we must make to survive the demise of food production as we know it. 4.3 out of 5 based on 6 reviews
The End of Food: The Coming Crisis in the World Food Industry

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Society, Politics & Philosophy, Food & Drink
Format Paperback
Pages 416
RRP £12.99
Date of Publication June 2008
ISBN 978-0747588818
Publisher Bloomsbury
 

With an insightful global approach, Paul Roberts investigates the startling truth about the way we make, market, consume, and even think about food, and how this system is no longer compatible or safe for the billions of consumers that it was built to serve. The emergence of large-scale and efficient food production changed forever our relationship with food and ultimately left a vulnerable and paradoxical system in place. Over 1.1 billion people worldwide are 'over-nourished,' according to the World Health Organization, and are at risk of obesity-related illness, while roughly as many people are starving. Meanwhile, the natural systems all food is dependent upon have been irreparably damaged by chemicals and destructive farming techniques.The pressures of low-cost food production cause contamination and disease, and big food consumers such as China and India are already planning for tightened global food supplies - the era of superabundance seems to be behind us. Vivid descriptions, lucid explanations, and fresh thinking make "The End of Food" uniquely able to offer a new and accessible way to understand the vulnerable miracle of the modern food economy. Roberts presents clear, stark visions of the future and helps us identify the decisions both personal and global that we must make to survive the demise of food production as we know it.

Reviews

The Evening Standard

William Leith

In some ways, this book reminds me of the other great food exposés — Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, say, or The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. Certainly, Roberts tells us quite a lot about today's food and its wider consequences — among other things, there's a passage about a lake of pig manure in North Carolina that burst its banks and unleashed "twenty-five million gallons of excrement". But what he's really saying is that the economics of food — not just fast food, but food in general — are junk economics.

19/06/2008

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The Financial Times

Harry Eyres

The End of Food encompasses the entire global system of food production and trading. The scope is vast and the handling is crisp, energetic and even-handed... Any slim hope this book holds out does not reside in the latest technological “silver bullet”. In an impressively researched section on GM foods, Roberts concludes that the potential benefits of this technology may have been exaggerated.

24/04/2009

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The Guardian

Rosalind Sharpe

REVIEWED IN CONJUNCTION WITH HUNGRY CITY BY CAROLYN STEEL. Roberts writes lucidly and dispassionately about human needs, natural resources and the economics and politics that bind them (his last book was called The End of Oil). He argues that although food shaped many of our economic systems (among them specialisation and management, accounting, trade and speculation), food itself has proved unsuited to the high-volume, low-cost industrial model that we now impose on it.

05/07/2008

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The Sunday Times

Alexander Cockburn

(REVIEWED WITH EAT YOUR HEART OUT BY FELICITY LAWRENCE) Both Paul Roberts and Felicity Lawrence...have done plenty of homework and it is scarcely their fault if a lot of the corporate infamies and statistics that smoulder angrily in their pages often have a somewhat familiar reek... As a title, The End of Food seems excessively glib and merely an echo of Roberts's previous book, The End of Oil, until one realises that he buys fairly heavily into Malthus and the Rev Thomas's notorious predictions in the early 19th century that population would inevitably outstrip food supply... Roberts sets little store by political reform, and his modern version of Malthus's useful pestilences are prospective epidemics - striking rich and poor alike - such as avian flu. In Roberts's estimation, the bizarre diets, genetic manipulations and hideous close confinements that are associated with the mass food production of cows, pigs and chickens make such epidemics inevitable.

13/07/2008

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The Observer

Hilary Spurling

The End of Food documents our eating patterns together with the global economy that supports them and the morality behind it in exhaustive and authoritative detail. These two books (This book was reviewed in conjunction with Carolyn Steel's Hungry City) reach broadly similar conclusions, and both are Orwellian in their implications. The quantity and quality of food we have come to take for granted in the West can't last much longer.

24/04/2009

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The Daily Telegraph

Carolyn Hart

Paul Roberts, well versed in the art of dispensing the politics of doom (his polemic on the end of oil scared us to death a couple of years ago), has woven into The End of Food possibly the most effective diet you'll ever encounter.

11/07/2008

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