“Food is the weak link that brought down earlier civilizations,” says author Lester Brown. And it could bring our own civilization down if we continue with business as usual. We are entering a new food era, one marked by higher prices, growing numbers of hungry people, and an intensifying competition for land and water. A record number of Americans are now living on food stamps. Among the factors responsible for the crisis are the policies of a handful of transnational agri-food monopolies and the use of grain to produce fuel for cars. The sharp climb in grain prices in the last few years underlines the gravity of the situation. The global cost of wheat, rice, corn, and soybeans has roughly tripled, reaching historic highs. What are the alternatives? Local communities and international social movements are promoting sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty.
Eric Holt-Gimenez is the executive director of FoodFirst/Institute for Food and Development Policy. He is the author of Campesino a Campesino: Voices from Latin America’s Farmer to Farmer Movement and co-author with Raj Patel of Food Rebellions! Crisis and the Hunger for Justice.