Raj Patel’s Staffed and Starved.

It begins with a summary of the content then followed by an evaluation and critique of the content.The chapter highlights historical background, development of soya production in the United States and Brazil.

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Political Ecology of World Food System

This chapter begins with a poem from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the poem is relevant to the introductory section of the chapter titled, Secret ingredients. This section talks about lecithin, an ingredient commonly used in food processing. The author reveals that lecithin, a by product of soybeans is widely used commercially as an emulsifier and makes chocolate slurry better suited for mass production, preservation and mass distribution.

Soya beans are popularly used for production of animal feeds and vegetable oils. In fact, the author mentions that 70% of vegetable oil are products of soybeans. Soya bean production has not been consistent, during the First World War; the traditional supply was interrupted prompting the United States to set up low-grade imports from Manchuria and other East European countries. During the Great Depression years, United States Department of Agriculture widely promoted the growth of soya beans. This marked the beginning of oil production as Archer Daniel adopted the European technology model.

The author investigates the conditions that led to the high production of soy in the Americas. Many people who found benefits of using it promoted the growth of soya beans. Key among them were, the staff in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, crop scientists, businesspersons as well as missionaries such as Ellen G. White. In Brazil, it took long to set up due to social, political and economic issues, such as “neglect of farming system in favor of urban industry” (Patel, 2008 ), distracted the country. However, in the 1950s and the 60s, many world soya producer such as USSR experienced decline in production leading to scarcity of the product in the market. The United States in response imposed an embargo on the export of soya causing Brazil to rapidly increase their production to satisfy the international market. Brazil over night turned from non-producer to an international supplier. The production of soya in Brazil has steadily grown. This has led to establishment of soya producing icons such Blario Maggi, “the world’s largest single producer of soya” (Patel, 2008 ). Maggi, a politician, farmer and a businessperson, is an established producer able to trade directly with other countries of the . He is a figure generating mixed reactions from many quarters including unfair competition in the U.S. To slave master in Brazil.

The soya production has led to intense competition between Brazil and the United States. This has culminated to social, environmental and political mistrust. For instance, the U.S. believes that Brazilians are slave drivers and corrupt while Brazilians perceive U.S. farmers as opportunists reaping off the taxpayers.

In addition, the author notes that the Brazil soy industry has also resulted in stagnated growth of other sectors. First, the laborers have totally been neglected by the current developments. Moreover, many farmers have also neglected production of other food crops and concentrated on the soya. The rapid development of soya, a moneymaker has been made possible due to lack government supervision, corruption and social economic conditions. The author mentions the unequal structure of land holdings, where some hold large tracks of land while others are congestion in tenement areas where houses are so small, limited water and poor quality of shelter. This has led to the rise of “Movimento dos Trabalhadores” a movement that seeks to improve people’s lives by empowering them. The movement has been received well by the people and celebrates achievements in many areas such as education and uplifting lives of the poor.

This chapter of Stuffed and Starved is loaded with much information about the soya business. It investigates the uses of soya, growth in the U.S. And eventually in Brazil. The chapter is not easy to comprehend as every paragraph presents new information on soya. The book cover a variety of , historical, geographical, social, political economical aspects of soya production. The reading is so detailed yet appears general. This could make it difficult for the reader to absorb in equal capacity al the sections covered. Each bit of information builds on another and one has to understand it for consistent learning from one paragraph to the next, one section to the next.

In addition, the Chapter sounds like a campaign against what many have come to accept as the American culture. A campaign against chocolate, McDonald and McNuggets is literally a campaign against market icons that represents America and this is may be a tough sell. The chapter points to the tough realities of the American life. The chapter seems to portray negativity not only towards soya, but also towards the industry, the effects on health, environment and as well as negative social and economic effects on the Brazilian people and the nation .

On the contrary, this chapter is a mine of key information about the ongoing in the soya industry of the United States and the southern neighbor. The author has packed all the information necessary for any serious reader with the need to understand the realities of the soya industry. The chapter is an encyclopedia of soya focusing on the American production and market.


Patel, R. (2008 ). Stuffed and Starved .