Stuffed, Starved & Stunned


I have been reading yet another book that has knocked my socks off. Of course I routinely say this about the books I read and so that statement may lack the oompf I wish to describe it with.

I assure you though. Stuffed and Starved is a mind-blowing, disturbing, challenging, frustrating and beautifully hopeful read.

It has jostled me enough to start curbing my meat consumption. To think about where the food I eat comes from. And to start a new blog with Steve. (Eating Outside of Empire is our gastronomic journey into the heart of what we eat. We don’t claim to be perfect – nor exhaustive as you can see with two posts under our belt – it is more a chronicle of our experiences as we learn about where our food comes from and how the decision of what to eat for dinner might impact the world).

Raj Patel, the author, has consolidated an unbelievable amount of data, personal stories and research, into a very fascinating, enlightening and often funny read.  I’m not going into detail here but I really firmly believe that every Christian should read it.

Back to the book…This is what stuck out the most in all 319 pages:

Few in the Global North have not profited from the exploitation of rural people in the Global South. The British Empire was fed, for instance, by forced international trade in wheat. The plantations that brought sugar and tobacco were engines of slavery. Today, many of those economies send tribute to the Global North in terms of debt repayment. It is time those debts were cancelled, and reparations from the Global North paid to the South. The debt owed by the Global North to the South will need to be paid for quite some time to come…

The lives of farmers in the Global South are made significantly harder by the political manipulation of the food system, with excess crops produced in the Global North dumped at below the cost of production into the economies of the Global South.  This too, must cease. For food sovereignty demands that the rights of people in the Global South be respected no less than those in the North, that those of the poor be respected no less than those of the rich, people of colour no less than whites, women no less than men. (pg. 315-316)

The reason this is so challenging is it’s not just about food sovereignty. It’s about the Kingdom of God. Because whether we know it or not or like it or not, each decision we make about food is a part of this intricate global network of poverty and wealth, freedom and control, life and death.  I also think it’s also about racism and racial superiority, and a deeply ingrained sense of entitlement that is rooted in Western Culture.  And that is really evil when we really think about it.

Jesus said that the two greatest commandments were to Love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbours as ourselves and that these two things are more important than burnt offerings and sacrifices. (Mk. 12:33)

Could it be true that paying the real cost of food so that women and men in the Global South earn fare wages and work with dignity and respect could be more important than showing up to church every Sunday?  I’m just asking.

I’m not sure I’ve really come to any conclusions. But my mind is ticking. Something has obviously hit a nerve and is challenging me to not only think differently about food, but to start acting it out too.

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