The history magazine Lapham's Quarterly just published a wonderful graphic showing how tomato, black pepper, and coffee crops/products changed over time and travelled the globe. It depicts in an accessible way the extent to which the developed world depends upon extensive and complex global agricultural trade--and how food history can be shaped by these processes. The role that climate change may have on these patterns remains to be seen.
An accompanying piece, "Pastoral Romance," by Brent Cunningham, offers a strong critique of the way in which a new generation of "yuppie" developed world young adults have romanticized the history of farming and food, in America and elsewhere. As a proponent of farm-to-plate eating, a researcher in climate change and agriculture, and a young adult from New York City, this one hit home. And--I believe--it can provide useful insight for developing country agriculture too. Read more »
An insightful piece in the Guardian discusses the importance of "food intelligence," touching on issues of price volatility, unreliable or asymmetrical information about food production/supplies, sticky macroeconomic politics/trade policies, the dangers of speculators, and (the lack of) international food storage. Read more »
There is no way around it: international trade policy is always messy. Recently, each round of WTO has drawn angry mobs and protests--and, more often than not, very little change. The pattern, it seems, especially holds true for discussions about food subsidies: developing countries want the U.S. and, to a lesser extent, Europe to remove the subsidies and genuinely open up their markets to developing country stocks, and the U.S. and Europe refuse to do so. And the stalemate replicates each WTO round, seemingly ad infinitum.
But the food crises of 2007-2008 and 2010 are demonstrating, more than ever, the dangers of nationalist, isolationist (and ultimately myopic) food policies.
Let's rewind. What happened during these food crises, who was responsible, and what made the 2007-2008 crisis so much worse than this one? Read more »
CCAFS Coordinating Unit - University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Science, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Rolighedsvej 21, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark, phone +45 35331046; Email ccafs [at] cgiar [dot] org, EAN 5790000279012
Lead Center - International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)