Food Rebellions: Crisis and the Hunger for Justice

Annie Shattuck, Eric Holt-Giménez and Raj Patel | 08.01.2009

With a Foreword by Walden Bello

A joint international publication with Fahumu Books and Grassroots International


Today there are over a billion hungry people on the planet, more than ever before in history. While the global food crisis dropped out of the news in 2008, it remains a painful reality for the world’s poor and underserved. Why, in a time of record harvests, are a record number of people going hungry? And why are a handful of corporations making record profits? In their new book, Food Rebellions! Crisis and the Hunger for Justice, authors Eric Holt-Giménez and Raj Patel with Annie Shattuck offer us the real story behind the global food crisis and document the growing trend of grassroots solutions to hunger spreading around the world.

This inspiring book compels readers to confront the crucial questions: Who is hungry, why, and what can we do about it?

Food Rebellions! contains up to date information about the current political and economic realities of our food systems. Anchored in political economy and an historical perspective, it is a valuable academic resource for understanding the root causes of hunger, growing inequality, the industrial agri-foods complex, and political unrest. Using a multidisciplinary approach, Holt-Giménez and Patel give a detailed historical analysis of the events that led to the global food crisis and document the grassroots initiatives of social movements working to forge food sovereignty around the world. These social movements and this inspiring book compel readers to confront the crucial question: Who is hungry, why, and what can we do about it?

In a time on our planet when official plans to solve the world food crisis call for more subsidies and greater technical fixes, here is finally a manual for creating sustainable resilient food systems. Food Rebellions! is a trail marker on the journey to end hunger and build food sovereignty.

Paperback: ISBN 978–0–935028–34–8

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E-book: ISBN 978-0-935028-41-6

Note: The US edition is now out of print. You can order the UK edition from our publishing partner, Fahamu Books.

About the Authors

Eric Holt-Giménez is the executive director of Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy in Oakland. He has also worked as a lecturer in international development and agroecology at the University of California and Boston University.

Raj Patel is an award-winning writer, activist and academic. He’s currently a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Center for African Studies, an Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and a fellow at Food First.

Annie Shattuck is a PhD candidate in Geography at the University of California at Berkeley. She was a policy analyst at Food First from 2008 to 2010. Her work has appeared in The Nation, Huffington Post, Foreign Policy in Focus and the academic press.

Praise for Food Rebellions

“In this very timely book, two of the world’s most prominent critics of the global food system, Eric Holt-Giménez and Raj Patel, dissect the causes of hunger and the food price crisis, locating them in a political economy of capitalist industrial production dominated by corporations and driven by the search for profits for the few instead of the welfare of the many. The picture that emerges is a political economy of global production that is failing badly in terms of feeding the world and is itself contributing to the spread of inequalities that promote hunger.”

–Walden Bello, Senior Analyst at Focus on the Global South, Bangkok

The high and mighty proponents of free trade speak for the interests of multinational corporations when they try to stifle the economic policies that empower peasants, family farmers, and farm workers to grow healthy supplies of food while protecting Mother Earth. Rather than continue down the path that led to today’s economic, environmental, and social catastrophe, Food Rebellions! calls on us to raise our voices in rebellion, join together, and place sustainable production and rural economic opportunity at the base of our recovery efforts.

–George Naylor, former president of the National Family Farm Coalition, USA

“Food Rebellions! is a tour de force! Not only does it describe the corporate assault on the human right to food in all of its political, economic, cultural and environmental dimensions, it also documents the many ways rural and urban people are actively building alternative food systems to defend their land, water, seeds and livelihoods. These social movements and this inspiring book could not have come at a better time. In the face of multiple global crises, the growing local and international trends toward food sovereignty provide us with the hope we need to build a just and sustainable future.”

–Paul Nicholson, EHNE (Basque Farmers’ Union) and Via Campesina

‘Small-scale farming systems spread widely across Africa are a social and ecological asset. As Food Rebellions! demonstrates, planting indigenous trees and using traditional farming methods enhances environmental conservation and preserves local biodiversity. At a time of economic crisis, sustainable agriculture and the economic empowerment it can generate will be key to the survival of the many African families headed by women.”

–Professor Wangari Maathai, Nobel Prize winner and author of The Challenge For Africa, published by Heinemann

“Hunger is a global scandal. I would call it a global structure of sin! Claiming to solve world hunger with the industrial age’s solutions the corporations of the world really only structure the world for more hunger, poverty and misery. This book, Food Rebellion! provides an analysis that is clear, documented and searing in its challenge to the powers that be. It provides solutions appropriate to our ecological age and to a new era of food democracy and food sovereignty. It reflects the vision of those most affected by the food crisis. I strongly endorse this book and I hope that it gets a wide readership. More importantly, I hope that it gets the support of the nations of the world suffering from hunger and poverty. It provides insight that comes from the people directly suffering from hunger and poverty. They have a right to be heard.”

–Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, President, 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations

“Food Rebellions! demonstrates the imperative to protect and enhance the multifaceted knowledge, practices, and lands of sustainable farmers. Contrary to some views, sustainable food systems are most helpful to the poor, especially the rural poor, who suffer the most from the dire social and ecological effects of industrial agriculture. Absent perverse subsidies to agrifood industries, what is good for farmers is also good for eaters and citizens. Holt-Giménez and Patel contribute to an urgent awakening, supported by practical experiments and expert reports, to the necessity and possibility for transforming food systems. “Like cracks in the asphalt,” solutions to global food crisis can restore resilient food systems across the world.”

–Harriet Friedman, PhD, University of Toronto

“The 20th century was the century of technological revolutions. This century is that of the knowledge revolution, and Eric Holt-Giménez and Raj Patel are in its vanguard. At long last, a book which confronts the real issues: how do we reform our food systems to avoid environmental disaster, how do we recapture the production and distribution of food from the tyranny of unchecked markets. This book is vital reading for all concerned with the right to food.”

–Olivier de Shutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

“Food Rebellions! situates with accuracy and precision the true meaning, causes and dynamics of what is commonly referred to as the “global food crisis.” It shows how skewed and dysfunctional the global food system is, and how the concentration of market power by a handful of transnational corporations translates to power over land, water, food and indeed, over life itself. In Part One, the authors trace with startling clarity the history of hunger and poverty to north-south politics of domination, and gender and class inequalities. They compel us to confront the questions: who is hungry, and why? But all is not gloom and doom. In Part Two, the authors inspire us with examples of creative and constructive resistance by food producers and workers against the capitalist driven food system and propose strategies for transforming the food system —strategies that are practical and well within the reach of anyone concerned with social and political justice. If Food Rebellions does not make food rights activist of its readers, I don’t know what will. This is a truly remarkable book.”

–Shalmali Guttal, Senior Associate, Focus on the Global South

Download the Table of Contents.

Download the Foreword by Walden Bello.

Download the Introduction.

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