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The Value and Price of Food: An excerpt from Terra Madre by Carlo Petrini

The Value and Price of Food: An excerpt from Terra Madre by Carlo Petrini

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The rise of consumerism has led to a shrinking of choices, ecological devastation, and an unsustainable and immoral industrial food system.
The rise of consumerism has led to a shrinking of choices, ecological devastation, and an unsustainable and immoral industrial food system.

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Published by: Chelsea Green Publishing on Feb 17, 2010
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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07/10/2013

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Fwd by
AliceWAters
Forging a New Global Network of Sustainable Food Communities
amad
cArloPetrini
Founder and Presidentof Slow Food 
 
FOUR
the valueand price of food
The triumph of consumerism has seen the triumph of anotherprejudice-cum-cliché: the idea that the price and value of food hasto be low—as low as possible, in fact.It’s natural, in a market, for us to opt for the product that costsleast. But we should do so when quality is equal, or at least whenwe have the opportunity of choosing a standard of quality suit-able for our needs. This is no longer possible in the case of food;it has to be cheap, period. Vegetables or pasta only have to go upby a few cents and the papers spew indignant reactions. Yet peopledon’t protest the same way if their bank account or telephone billscost more, if a professional eeces them for his services, or if atelevision-repair call costs the equivalent of a dinner for two at arestaurant.But food’s a different matter; it isn’t to be meddled with. Thewidely held opinion is: “With a great deal of effort we managed tobeat hunger years ago. We are a rich, opulent society; food has tobe available everywhere and, if possible, cost a trie. If it’s expen-sive, let’s leave it to gluttons and guzzlers with plenty of money to spend.” This is what comes of having transformed food into aconsumer commodity, stripping it of all its spiritual, cultural, and
 
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.

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Hn Oyun added this note
Hi, everyone. Thanks for reading this excerpt from Carlo Petrini's Terra Madre--now available from Chelseahttp://www.hncizgifilm.com Green Publishing.http://www.hnoyun.com
Hn Oyun added this note
Hi, everyone. Thanks for reading this excerpt from Carlo Petrini's Terra Madre--now available from Chelsea Green Publishing.http://www.hnoyun.com
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Beautiful, important book
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