Raj Patel is against cheap food

Raj Patel, award-winning writer, activist, and academic, recently spoke out against cheap food at the Global Alliance for the Future of Food’s International Dialogue in Milan, Italy.

Tom A. Peter/Staff/File
Alberto Gomes says his small ethnic grocery store in Cambridge is at risk of folding now that the Brazilians are trying to save money by buying cheap food and the cost of his imported Brazilian and Portuguese products have sky rocketed.

Raj Patel, award-winning writer, activist, and academic, recently spoke out against cheap food at the Global Alliance for the Future of Food’s International Dialogue in Milan, Italy. “When you pull at the price of cheap food, the food system unravels,” explained Patel. “Cheap food helps keep wages down. If food prices go up, even more people will go hungry than the 850 million we already have.”

Patel demystifies a new type of accounting that takes into consideration the social, environmental, and health impacts of food production. He points out, “There’s a theory of change here, of a kind. In a world where prices reflect environmental damage, you reward good behavior. If you internalize costs, agroecological food at your local farmers’ market ends up being cheaper than the packages at a supermarket.” This method of accounting is called true cost accounting and could radically change the food system.

“If we get the prices right, sustainable food can compete on a level playing field and win,” says Patel.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.