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on 23 November 2012
I bought this boook having an interest in where our food comes from how its produced, and the logistics involved in getting it to the supermarket and onto our plates. there is so much talk about striggling to feed the world's 7 billion population and growing, with a large proportion of those people in poverty in the developing world whose access to food is heavily restricted by border controls and corrupt governments who spend the money intended of food aid on other things for themselves, without thinking about their own population.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 7 June 2013
I picked this book up on spec., ignorant of the author but interested in the subject. And what a subject this is: burgeoning production, sales techniques honed to perverse perfection and a system that really seems (literally?), as Marx said 'to contain the seeds of its own destruction'. The logic is devastating: produce more, price down, buy more, advertise better, produce more and eke it out with bulking 'agents' (there's an amazing language in this stuff that someone ought to look at), sell more and all the while the planet becomes exhausted. It reminds me of a diabolic version of Voltaire's idea of freedom coming when the last priest strangles the last monarch- or something like that - as we dance, eating more, growing fatter and becoming less healthy to disaster. Hardly speculation; this is happening, even as you read this large book.
This is quite a story and, unlike some, I found it a very enjoyable read; he writes well. No book this long is likely to be literally unputdownable, but nonetheless I enjoyed all of it and if the solutions proposed seem prosaic, well of COURSE they are: anyone proposing LET THEM EAT (organic) CHICKEN is being a bit of a Headless One - we have to eat less meat, we have to realise the age of cheap food is over and, at last, Take Food Seriously. His research establishing all this is staggering and the case he makes is, I believe, unarguable. Well I could find no fault in it, on one reading. I will return!
It is an underappreciated fact that the sale of cookbooks is inversely proportionate to our cooking; Roberts' book inclines us to think about the whole business of food, in all the meanings of the phrase and is a salutary read that I would have in all the nation's libraries. Those cookbook sales must sell proportionately FEWER!
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on 6 February 2009
Journalist Paul Roberts investigated the global food-delivery system and he reports that food product production and prices have advanced like the production and prices of other contemporary consumer goods. The economics of the food system push an ever-faster product cycle driven by supply-and-demand pressures. The infrastructure that delivers food to consumers uses ever-advancing technology. However, food itself is not an ordinary consumer "product." Inexpensive food is an illusion, because the process externalizes many food production costs as cheap labor or cheap oil. Roberts explains why the food-delivery system is mired in economic, political and cultural problems, and examines the crisis that looms if it runs out of fuel or water, or both. getAbstract recommends this investigation to readers who want to understand the production, market and consumer implications involved in feeding the people on our planet.
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on 25 May 2009
This is a very readable book. The pace and tone flows well and is rather like that of a TV documentary. This may not be everyone's cup of tea but appealing to those of us who enjoy that format. I'm not too far into the book but everything that Paul Roberts has stated is plain, simple and obvious. By that I mean that he has gathered facts together and predicted the future. I didn't know many of these facts, now I do, the possibilities for the future are obvious. This is a scary book.
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on 12 July 2011
There was a lot of interesting information in this book and it was exciting at the beginning but as I got further through it there was little that kept me interested (apart from the rice farmer with the ducks & fish) but by the time I got the the epilogue I felt that I have 'heard it all before' and actually just skimmed over it looking for something of interest - there wasn't anything!

I would recommend reading it if you haven't got much else to read or if you are studying food production (but not nutrition) but as the author repeats the same thing a lot or gives different examples of the same thing and I felt that the book could of got the message across in half the time and half the book.

All the bits about bacteria was very interesting but I actually disagree with some of the parts about sustainability. I think that we should all stop eating corn and the like and raise millions of animals in fields, organically - Crazy huh?! :)

So, 3 stars for what I learned from the book but loses 2 for taking so long to tech it to me.
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on 28 September 2009
I love these books that look at the truth behind the apparent bountiful food harvest we enjoy right now and look at the harsh realities of it all. This is one of the best books I ever read on the subject, as Paul Roberts unveils a theory I agree with of a coming catastrophe in global food supply.

Only downside, and hence the 4 stars, is that the author lets his personal views on the topic pervade some of the examples of food and agricultural processes and seems to think governments should do more to help fix the problem, whereas while I read the book, it became pretty obvious government intervention is the major cause of the problem (price supports, etc. to win votes).

Sadly, I think we have to accept the crisis will occur, and from an investing point of view, I never saw clearer evidence that I should be socking a load cash into places like Brazil and Argentina who will become the agricultural powerhouses of the 21st century, usurping the USA.
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on 16 January 2009
I've read a lot of books on the subject of food production, and this one didn't add much that I didn't already know. There's plenty of other books on this subject that are much more enjoyable and entertaining yet cover the same ground.
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