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Diet for a Dead Planet: Big Business and the Coming Food Crisis

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If we are what we eat, then, as Christopher D. Cook contends in this powerful look at the food industry, we are not in good shape. The facts speak for themselves: more than 75 million Americans suffered from food poisoning last year, and 5,000 of them died; 67 percent of American males are overweight, obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United S If we are what we eat, then, as Christopher D. Cook contends in this powerful look at the food industry, we are not in good shape. The facts speak for themselves: more than 75 million Americans suffered from food poisoning last year, and 5,000 of them died; 67 percent of American males are overweight, obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States and supersizing is just the tip of the iceberg: the way we make and eat food today is putting our environment and the very future of food at risk. Diet for a Dead Planet takes us beyond Fast Food Nation to show how our entire food system is in crisis. Corporate control of farms and supermarkets, unsustainable drives to increase agribusiness productivity and profits, misplaced subsidies for exports, and anemic regulation have all combined to produce a grim harvest. Food, our most basic necessity, has become a force behind a staggering array of social, economic, and environmental epidemics. Yet there is another way. Cook argues cogently for a whole new way of looking at what we eat—one that places healthy, sustainably produced food at the top of the menu for change. In the words of Jim Hightower, “If you eat, read this important book!”


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If we are what we eat, then, as Christopher D. Cook contends in this powerful look at the food industry, we are not in good shape. The facts speak for themselves: more than 75 million Americans suffered from food poisoning last year, and 5,000 of them died; 67 percent of American males are overweight, obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United S If we are what we eat, then, as Christopher D. Cook contends in this powerful look at the food industry, we are not in good shape. The facts speak for themselves: more than 75 million Americans suffered from food poisoning last year, and 5,000 of them died; 67 percent of American males are overweight, obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States and supersizing is just the tip of the iceberg: the way we make and eat food today is putting our environment and the very future of food at risk. Diet for a Dead Planet takes us beyond Fast Food Nation to show how our entire food system is in crisis. Corporate control of farms and supermarkets, unsustainable drives to increase agribusiness productivity and profits, misplaced subsidies for exports, and anemic regulation have all combined to produce a grim harvest. Food, our most basic necessity, has become a force behind a staggering array of social, economic, and environmental epidemics. Yet there is another way. Cook argues cogently for a whole new way of looking at what we eat—one that places healthy, sustainably produced food at the top of the menu for change. In the words of Jim Hightower, “If you eat, read this important book!”

30 review for Diet for a Dead Planet: Big Business and the Coming Food Crisis

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cwn_annwn_13

    The author does such a good job of showing what utter rats agribusiness/chain grocery stores/pesticide companies are I have to give this a five star rating. Environmental damage, exploitive labor practices, factory farms, unhealthy and at times out and out toxic food supply, destruction of the family farms, the FDA/USDA being there more to see to it that big food gets what they want instead of protecting the public. All of this is covered in Diet for a Dead Planet. Even the farm subsidies, which The author does such a good job of showing what utter rats agribusiness/chain grocery stores/pesticide companies are I have to give this a five star rating. Environmental damage, exploitive labor practices, factory farms, unhealthy and at times out and out toxic food supply, destruction of the family farms, the FDA/USDA being there more to see to it that big food gets what they want instead of protecting the public. All of this is covered in Diet for a Dead Planet. Even the farm subsidies, which the average American probably thinks goes to prop up family farms is more a welfare program for the super wealthy who get paid for land they own that they don't farm. David Rockefeller and Ted Turner, along with corporations like Chevron and Dupont rake in the dough from these programs, not to mention big agribusiness firms. Probably the only annoyance in this book is he treads politically correct waters when talking about the exploitive labor practices used on illegal (and legal) immigrants by agribusiness. Its also very Americentric. I am really grateful to live in a country that while it is far from perfect, has higher food standards and doesn't allow all this toxic stuff into the food supply like America does and about a third of the fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products on the shelves in Denmark are organic.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    I only gave it a low rating because it bored me a little. It's my own fault; I've read similar books before and so it seemed a little preaching-to-the-choir for me. But it is very in depth, well-researched, and a pretty easy read if you're into the subject matter. This isn't a vegetarian propaganda book, either, it goes beyond animal ethics to problems with grocery stores, food distribution, and health issues. It's basically a good source of information for the average person who isn't aware of I only gave it a low rating because it bored me a little. It's my own fault; I've read similar books before and so it seemed a little preaching-to-the-choir for me. But it is very in depth, well-researched, and a pretty easy read if you're into the subject matter. This isn't a vegetarian propaganda book, either, it goes beyond animal ethics to problems with grocery stores, food distribution, and health issues. It's basically a good source of information for the average person who isn't aware of the aforementioned issues.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paulreynv

    this book is so dense with information that it took me forever to read, but it was incredibly educational. it really helps put a lot of things together.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Harbowy

    Acting as adequate counterpoints, Barry Glassner's "The Gospel of Food" and Christopher Cook's "Diet for a Dead Planet" provide an interesting contrast on agribusiness. Cook's "Diet" is almost universally a polemic: despite this, his book is most fascinating during part II, tracing the roots of the conversion from agrarianism pre 1800's, and proceeds to modern corporate monoculture agribusiness of today. Rather than opening with this story and presenting a coherent explanation for "the way things Acting as adequate counterpoints, Barry Glassner's "The Gospel of Food" and Christopher Cook's "Diet for a Dead Planet" provide an interesting contrast on agribusiness. Cook's "Diet" is almost universally a polemic: despite this, his book is most fascinating during part II, tracing the roots of the conversion from agrarianism pre 1800's, and proceeds to modern corporate monoculture agribusiness of today. Rather than opening with this story and presenting a coherent explanation for "the way things are today", he instead opens with the "signs of the apocalypse" type presentation which clearly voices his agenda of fear. It is apparent that he is trying to get you scared, and then to look upon history with scared eyes so you can believe his agenda. However, his storyline is also fascinating in its incoherency as well. He is perfectly justified in exposing the tragic irony of the existence of surplus grain at the time of bread lines and starvation, as was the situation in the beginning of the 20th century. He presents no cures- his argument is not new, and his suggested remedies of "burning GMO crops" and smashing corporatism is not a recipe for better food, but for starvation. He wants to argue that the rise of corporate farming caused the end of small farming, but he does not consider the impact of non-farm industrialization. He completely ignores the effect of inflation throughout his book, and quotes absolute changes in price to back his argument when many of those changes may not have been significant relative to the overall economy, which was becoming more dominated by manufacture and later, by technology. Most egregiously, he argues that chemicals were impoverishing the farmers, even as they "applied chemical fertlizers at twice the recommended rate". No explanation is given why farmers were overusing expensive chemicals at the cost of their profit margins and safety. In contrast, Glassner's "Gospel" debunks many of the myths associated with modern agribusiness. As an avowed "slow food" advocate, he is not attempting to argue in favor of heavily processed food. However, he makes a good attempt to step back from much of the fear voiced in Cook's "Diet". In contrast, Glassner puts scale on many of the scares, using many of the same refernces cited in Cook's "Diet" but highligting the actual magnitude of the issues. In contrast with the dangers of smoking, which elevate your risk of disease on the order of thousands or tens of thousands, diet effects are often three to four orders of magnitude smaller and often not statistically significant- in most cases, a single case of heart disease can tip the numbers dramatically. He also exposes studies in which the effects are cited but not actually observed, instead calculated from tables of expected risk. Both books ignore a central point that I had hoped they would cover- the twentieth century has seen an overwhelming rise in life expectancy, at the same time the price, in relative terms, of food has shrunk from consuming most of the family budget, down to a small fraction thereof. The reality of food production is that while modern life may be stressful, the realities of running a small farm are far from ideal. Very few areas of the world are capable of producing a consistent and nutritionally complete diet entirely from locally produced vegetables year in and year out. Food is a series of challenges which humanity, as a whole, has yet to conquer, both in terms of feeding the world, and nourishing and nurturing our desire to act ethically and sustainably. Glassner's "Gospel", as opposed to Cook's "Diet", provides suggestions and recommendations throughout the text, rather than a single sparse chapter of suggestions at the end. His recommedations are simple and consistent throughout: Quit smoking. Reduce stress. Eat foods that taste good. Moderation. His prescription is that we are preoccupied with worry, and that the culture of "no" causes us to fetishise bad foods, and "safe treyf", and as a result not see the big picture with objectivity and realistic solutions. Cook has the tone of a revolutionary warrior- kill the corporations before they kill us. Warfare, however, is not the right solution, and as Glassner rightly points out, to disrespect the work of many of the men and women who work hard within business to feed the hungry and provide afforable, reasonable, and tasty choices is simply that: disrespectful. It would be naive to suggest that corporations have our best interests at heart, but they are not wholly evil, either. A dead customer buys nothing. Cook wants to hate corporations, and begrudgingly, his only positive recommedation in the last chapter (indeed, in the whole book) is a brief nod to the rise of corporate organic foods. In summary, though, neither book is really a complete picture. Glassner does not go far enough to paint the historical picture, whereas perhaps Cook goes too far and loses the page with too many inconsistent details. If you want to be terrified, you will agree with Cook. If you want to be consoled, you will read Glassner. The truth, as always, remains elusive. Cook has no right, as Glassner might argue, to destroy the jobs that sustain the working class, but likewise, enforced sustained poverty as provided by the corporations that Glassner lionizes is no solution for the working poor, as Cook might argue. Glassner may come closer to a reasonable approach, in my opinion, but we have yet to see a truly honest body of work that provides real perspective and answers to the questions of poverty and provides a diet for a sustainable, ethical world.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rose B

    An enjoyable read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Natasha Hurley-Walker

    Like Big Pharma, I found this too depressing to finish at this time. I think I'll just eat lettuce grown in my garden for the rest of my life. Like Big Pharma, I found this too depressing to finish at this time. I think I'll just eat lettuce grown in my garden for the rest of my life.

  7. 4 out of 5

    James Evans Remick

    The author give us a glimpse into the ire strait our food system is in an how the corporate food industry is to blame. A riveting an disturbing view of how our most basic necessity-food has become big business which has lead to all sorts of environmental social and economical problems that must be dealt with. Cook brings a fresh approach to how and what we should eat. The book put an emphasis on healthy (physically an environmentally) sustainably produced food.Cook argues that what we don't know The author give us a glimpse into the ire strait our food system is in an how the corporate food industry is to blame. A riveting an disturbing view of how our most basic necessity-food has become big business which has lead to all sorts of environmental social and economical problems that must be dealt with. Cook brings a fresh approach to how and what we should eat. The book put an emphasis on healthy (physically an environmentally) sustainably produced food.Cook argues that what we don't know can indeed hurt us, an he amply illustrates this point.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    This book was written in the early part of this decade, so a lot of their supporting material is from the 80s, 90s, and the early 2000s. I found the information about the history of agriculture interesting as well as the information pertaining to the way animal processing workers are treated and recruited. The section on how greedy chain grocery stores/retail giants are is eye opening. Really, the whole book is eye opening!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ethicurean Reads

    Going beyond fast food and GMOs to explain why our entire food system is in crisis, Cook tells how corporate control of farms and supermarkets, unsustainable drives to increase agribusiness profits, misplaced subsidies for exports, and anemic regulation have all combined to produce a grim harvest. Cook argues cogently for a whole new way of looking at what we eat — one that places healthy, sustainably produced food at the top of the menu for political change.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    Started at 5 stars, but going downhill quickly. The first section of this book was interesting- talking about how tainted meat is in the food supply. Now, I feel like I'm reading "The History of Farming in America: How Farming is Intertwined with Economics and Politics". My husband says to skip the section, but I figure, it's probably good for me, and it certainly helps me get to sleep at night! I guess this book is probably above my reading level...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Miller

    Couldn't finish this one, but luckily, no one from book club cared about that, or finished it either. I think that he's got some good things to say, but it really felt to me like I reading an opinionated thesis. Also, saying that something has "anecdotal evidence" is not the same as saying that it is true.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    This book is a very disturbing and informative and dry read about what's wrong with the way our country produces its food and the impact that has on the environment, the labor market, our health and the world wide economy and international famine. You'll never look at a grocery store the same way again.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    This book thoroughly depressed me. The greed of corporate America, what we do to other countries. IT is horrible. How we are damaging our bodies with GMO food. Global warming. IT makes the Mayan end of the world look like a good thing.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Stellaluna

    Let's just say it's terrifying.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Todd Settimo

    An amazingly informative book. Highly recommended.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    If you want to know how the food industry works and what you can do about it - read this book!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lil Mike

    author paints the all too true & disturbing picture of the way it works in the corporate food chain, and what alternatives one can seek out. author paints the all too true & disturbing picture of the way it works in the corporate food chain, and what alternatives one can seek out.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Megan Campbell

  19. 5 out of 5

    Samantha McGuire (Mirror Bridge Books)

  20. 4 out of 5

    Meritree Ratzel

  21. 5 out of 5

    sarah

  22. 4 out of 5

    Leah

  23. 5 out of 5

    Christa Seeley

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey

  25. 4 out of 5

    Linda Åkeson

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tricia M

  27. 5 out of 5

    Scarlethorseoliver

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

  29. 5 out of 5

    Meredith Jacobsen

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

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