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A Greedy Man in a Hungry World: How (almost) everything you thought you knew about food is wrong

A Greedy Man in a Hungry World: How (almost) everything you thought you knew about food is wrong [Kindle Edition]

Jay Rayner
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)

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Product Description


‘If you want to eat clever in the 21st Century read Jay Rayner’s joyful book. The rules of lunch just changed’ Caitlin Moran, author of ‘How To Be a Woman’

‘“Muddled thinking” and numpty moralising about food are major annoyances of the foodie age. Rayner skewers them deftly, as a man who knows his cutlery can’ Observer

‘Jay Rayner is always thinking about his next meal so in his new book he examines the economics of food to forecast how we will feed ourselves in the future and what exactly will, or possibly won’t, be served on our dinner plates. It’s part-memoir, part reportage and never preachy. He serves up much food for thought’ Daily Express

‘Challenging the organic movement, locavores, and the food miles, he serially slaughters the sacred cows of the liberal foodists. Easy to read – uncomfortable to accept’ Financial Times

‘Rayner’s latest [challenges] the organic movement, locavores, food miles and seemingly every other sacred cow of the modern food world. Easy to read, even when uncomfortable to accept’ Financial Times

‘Funny and thought-provoking, Rayner – a self-confessed glutton – questions preconceptions about food issues. Supermarkets versus farmers’ markets, the GM debate, food miles, seasonality, food poverty and the madness of the Western diet are all examined with a refreshing honesty, and a desire to see both sides of the argument’ BBC Good Food

Product Description

The UK’s most influential food and drink journalist shoots a few sacred cows of food culture.

Buying ‘locally’ does no good. Farmers’ markets are merely a lifestyle choice. And ‘organic’ is little more than a marketing label, way past its sell by date. This may be a little hard to swallow for the ethically-aware food shopper but it doesn’t make it any less true. And now the UK’s most outspoken and entertaining food writer is ready to explain why.

Jay Rayner combines personal experience and hard-nosed reportage to explain why the doctrine of organic has been eclipsed by the need for sustainable intensification; and why the future lies in large-scale food production rather than the cottage industries that foodies often cheer for. From the cornfields of Illinois to the killing lines of Yorkshire abattoirs, Rayner takes us on a journey that will change the way we shop, cook and eat forever. And give us a few belly laughs along the way.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 870 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Collins (23 May 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #34,468 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is probably the hardest I've ever read. I read it twice, not because it's full of big, complicated words or anything, no, it's actually very funny and incredibly entertaining. Jay Rayner is self-deprecating (almost cringingly so on occasion) and honest and it's very interesting. It's just hard because there are facts in it that made me question everything I currently believe about food, how I buy my food and where it comes from.

The book will take you on a journey from 1960s Kenton (where people like his mother spent half a day a week and probably a third of the family's weekly income food shopping), through heart-breaking Rwanda, where children are starving in a fertile, but overpopulated land, to today's supermarkets where 1 or 2p added to the price (and less BOGOFF deals) could make a massive difference to this country's farmers. It will introduce you to terms such as `sustainable intensification', `virtual hectares' and `gastronomics', and make you really scratch your head over GM foods and food miles.

This book is basically about feeding a burgeoning population. It's about why sometimes, buying local isn't, environmentally and economically, always the best option, and about why farming on a huge scale can be a good thing. This, of course, has upset everyone who believes that small-scale and local is best and I understand that, I really do. But (to totally oversimplify things) take Jay's example of potatoes. In Norfolk, with its peat-rich, loose soil, farmers can yield about 20 tonnes of potatoes per acre. But in London, with its hard, clay soil, they'd get more like 16 tonnes an acre. So in order to match Norfolk, London farmers would need much more fertiliser, or more land, or something.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the cover - this is a deeply serious book 12 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's relatively brief - a large font and 1.5 spaces; don't be mislead by the number of pages.
But it's concise and well-written, in an engaging and anecdotal manner, that means you retain what's been said. The longer, more academic tome that this could've been wouldn't have left the same impression.
And it's been well-thought through and much agonised-over.
Supermarkets turn out to be rather like the banks. What they do is economically rational to them as individual players, but in the big picture they create a mess. It maximises profits to be part of an oligopoly and screw your suppliers to the ground, buying wherever it's cheapest. But farmers can't turn on food like a tap - as Jay Rayner points out, they need investment and lead time. And putting them out of business is easier than bringing them back into it.
Some things I was aware of. Deep-sea transport is cheap and has (by modern standards) a modest carbon footprint. New Zealand produces some things that we can't for a lower carbon footprint, including transport. And it makes sense to lorry tomatoes and peppers etc from Italy and Spain rather than grow them here in heated polytunnels - assuming we do demand to eat them throughout the year. And as the author asks, 'Why not?'. What use civilisation if you can't eat a tomato in winter.
Not mentioned in the book is a good example of where we go wrong on meat. The Observer ran a butchers' competition: they gave an English and an Italian butcher each a pig. The Italian took more meat from a smaller pig. When told of this, the English butcher commented that he simply couldn't afford to spend the extra time to get more meat from the carcass. We didn't pay enough for his pork.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last, a reasoned approach to food! 1 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
First off, Jay Rayner's writing style is witty and engaging, and burnished by the subject being one he is undoubtedly knowledgeable and passionate about. Whatever you end up thinking about his arguments and conclusions you should at least enjoy the read.

So to the subject matter. No single food production system, big or small, is either totally bad or completely good. Seems like common sense, and maybe it is but this is no middle-ground hugging on the one hand approach.

We have to acknowledge that the perceived 'better' and 'worse' options in food production are outputs of our lifestyle choices and how we want to be seen by others. Farmers markets can be great if you can afford them, but they won't feed the nation (let alone the world), and big agriculture can be repressive but it may also be the way to get necessary foodstuffs to the people who need them most.

It's our decisions, individually and collectively, about taking responsibility for the food we want to eat, how much of it is available, and how much we have to pay for the luxury of having it. Cue supermarket debate...

There are gaps here, but as is acknowledged, this is a massively complicated subject with no easy answers. If you want an open-minded approach then this will get you thinking, and hopefully acting.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Food for thought 19 Jun 2013
By wendyjg
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you like me thought you were doing the right thing buying locally produced food, visiting farmers' markets, trying not to buy everything in the supermarket, then this is a must-read.
Now I would love to see a carbon footprint label on my groceries sooner than later.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this man!
I met him in his mum's kitchen aged 8 _gorgeous then so clever now - brilliant exciting food writing enjoy!
Published 12 hours ago by Enid Irving
4.0 out of 5 stars Jay makes a lot of sense
A week considered analysis of the UK and global food issues, written in a long heated and straight forward way. Certainly not too preachy.
Published 1 day ago by Simon
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Everyone should read this. Excellent
Published 1 day ago by K. S. Croome
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
Thoughtful, provocative and a real education into the world of food politics - retailers and consumers alike should most definitely read!
Published 29 days ago by J. R. Hope
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good
I bought this as a present for my husband who is hard to buy things for, especially books. He likes Jay Rayner so I thought this would be a good book for him. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Birgit Vosper
5.0 out of 5 stars Jay Rayner's Funny/critical read for foodies
Jay's book is witty and critical in equal measure. Read some of the reviews before buying as was slighted unsure after reading. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Miss S. Worsley
5.0 out of 5 stars must read
A very interesting, informative & amusing book.

It will challenge what you thought you knew & make you think - therefore it's a must read
Published 1 month ago by Mr S E Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprise
I expected to read about Mr Rayner's adventures in the restaurant world, what I got instead was an erudite account of the state of the food world. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Read more
Published 3 months ago by mossycloud
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writing
Excellent writing we would all expected from a Fleet Street writer, but surprisingly in detail on the subject of food due to world population growth and future supply issue, well... Read more
Published 3 months ago by MR BILL KUT
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny & very thought provoking
Excellent, thought provoking book but very readable book. Whether you are devotee of Sainsbury's, a worshiper at farmers markets or a crusading vegan this book is well worth a... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jo Brookes
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