David Rieff's new book on today's problems of accessing basic foods in the global south, but the complexities are lost in his ramblings; it is a call for clarity from the history of hunger relief.
"In his rambling, ambitious, and pessimistic book, The Reproach of Hunger, David Rieff sees scores of the development community’s fables and foibles through the lens of the current problems in access to food. Those problems are the manifestation, variously, of unaffordable prices for staple foods, population growth in some regions outstripping increases in agricultural productivity, lack of access to foods with important vitamins and minerals, unhealthful food practices, exhaustion of soil nutrients, poor governance and planning, and climate disruptions and political turbulence that affect the production of food. To blame? It’s pretty hard to figure out from Rieff’s telling, but suspects include the over-optimism of people like Bono and Bill Gates, lack of progress in plant breeding, the inherent unfairness of capitalist economies and the impracticality of social reformers seeking to overturn capitalism. Rieff offers not a path toward a solution but an impassioned critique of virtually every effort that’s been marshaled. The overall message seems to be: it’s complicated, and the sets of solutions that have been taken so far don’t do justice to those complications."--Gilbert Levine and Ruth Levine, HistPhil