James Vernon's Hunger: A Modern History

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summer-2015 article reports, which, in turn, is allowing harvested goods to spoil from pest infestation and mold (Cernansky, 2015). In effect, the journalist’s narrative voice arouses grief to her readership as, maybe, a village playhouse does its audience, with a kind of tragic intrigue and theater, however momentary. Like the hunger stories of the late nineteenth century highlighted in James Vernon’s Hunger: A Modern History (Vernon, 2007), to me, the article’s focus on wasting less and FAD is something to be absorbed and appreciated as tragic, even Shakespearean. But, the subjects are not, perhaps preferably, read as grim realities about extant humans bearing the brunt of failing, flailing first-world political and economic regimes, of which…show more content…
A 2012 study in Nature, for example, assessed crop yields in conventional and organic food systems, with marginal focus of the socioeconomic factors influencing them (Tilman et al., 2002). Yields metrics are not synonymous with food availability; indeed, a healthy majority of industrially produced grain crops are used for livestock feed and biofuels (Tenenbaum, 2008). While yields are important in famine vulnerability analysis, the push to significantly increase food production over the next four decades is only relevant if our interest in cars and livestock eclipse the interests and entitlements—enforceable or enforced—of the hungry. The study, while rigorously informed by science and impressive statistics, does little to address how contemporary economies favor more affluent countries and perpetuate cycles of poverty for less affluent ones (Sen, 1981). As such, mammoth inequities in food access and distribution across and within national lines raise, again, mammoth questions of causation. Critically evaluating why people go unfed, or underfed, at all is not solely a matter of harvest shortcomings, whether organic or conventional in practice. The root cause of the problems spurring the research is depoliticized, even dissocialized, in the name of high R-values and the science-world cachet derived from a premier academic journal; its FAD-supportive discourse, fails to see the sociopolitical crisis: palpable “entitlement” violations by and among

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