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Book Review by by Ifedinma Dimbo

Last update - Saturday, September 1, 2012, 00:51 By Metro Éireann

Not many people are interested in what makes up the food on their table – that is, how it’s grown or where it comes from. Of course there are the purists who would want organic produce so that their bodies will not be polluted by unnecessary chemicals, or the ethically minded who want to ensure the producers of what they consume are compensated fairly and so would seek out ethically produced food, but they are not in the mainstream.

So when this book was presented to me I baulked at first. And I must admit that having read it, my desire to know the pedigree of my carrot was not ignited, but the information acquired is now filed away in my mind until the need arises.
However, in the greater schema of things, this is a thoroughly researched, properly structured and well-presented book that conveys its intent succinctly.
Author Jennifer Clapp begins by asking her readers to stop for a minute to ponder on how much they know about the path followed by the food they eat every morning as it made its way to the breakfast table. Rather than setting the tone for the rest of the book, this question soon takes a different turn as Clapp veers into such issues as the world food system, food aid, biodiversity, unfair conditions for farmers and ecological and social consequences of activities surrounding the growing, processing, buying and selling of food. Wow.
Clapp is a professor of global environmental governance and as such I had high expectations in the quality of the content, and she does not disappoint. The book centres on the theme of the multiplicity of forces that shape the globalisation of food production.
It is indeed a specialist book for the initiated, but is structured clearly enough for pleasure readers to easily absorb.
The language is simple and elegant, the content rich, well articulated and masterfully presented so that by the time you finish, you will feel you’ve come to know the ins and outs of the politics involved in an ear of corn, cultivated in the back of beyond yet sold at your local supermarket – a concept that’s nothing to sneeze at.

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