62 THE VALUE AND PRICE OF FOOD
material values: the system built around it or of which it is part hasreplaced value with price. Money has supplanted other values tobecome the secret of happiness.Food is thus no longer produced to be eaten, but to be sold.Price becomes the principal, if not the only, choice criterion. Inthe global agro-industry food system, foodstuffs have becomecommodities just like all the others—no more, no less; just likeoil, timber, or other tradable goods whose prices are establishedby international stock exchanges. Grain, corn, coffee, and cocoaare commodities like metals or energy, hence subject to the laws of supply and demand, distributed on the market without differen-tiations in quality and without a care about who produces them.Subjecting food to these laws leads to a standardization of food production that tends to reduce biodiversity and increase“eco-unfriendly” monocultures. And it also causes a huge amountof injustice. Especially in the South of the world, and often onaccount of their colonialist or neocolonialist heritage, whole coun-tries have become specialized in given agricultural products andpromptly suffer huge upheavals when their prices plummet.Mostly in countries that are experiencing rapid urbaniza-tion, the fact that food is becoming something to buy and notto produce is creating poverty, hence hunger and malnutrition.A peasant farmer in a poor country who decides to abandon thehard life of the countryside for a move to the city stops producingthe meager amount of food that allowed his family to get by, albeitin poor conditions. But if he doesn’t nd a job with a decent wagein the city, he won’t be able to buy enough food for himself and hisfamily. In a short space of time, he will descend from poverty tonothing—to hunger and downright squalor.