A "scathing analysis" The New Yorker
"A call to arms." Nature Magazine
The End of Food
In this carefully researched, vividly recounted narrative, Roberts lays out the stark economic realities
beneath modern food—and shows how our system for making, marketing, and moving what we eat is growing less and less
compatible with the billions of consumers that system was built to serve.
At the heart of The
End of Food is a grim paradox: the rise of large-scale, hyper-efficient industrialized food production, though it generates
more food more cheaply than at any time in history, has reached a point of dangerously diminishing returns. Our high-volume
factory systems are creating new risks for food-borne illness—from E. coli and Salmonella to avian flu. Our high-yield
crops and livestock generate grain, vegetables, and meat of declining nutritional quality. Overproduction is so routine that
nearly one billion people are now overweight or obese worldwide—and yet those extra calories are still so unevenly distributed
that the same number of people—one billion, roughly one in every seven of us—can't get enough to eat. In some
of the hardest-hit regions, such as sub-Saharan Africa, the lack of a single nutrient—vitamin A—has left more
than 3 million children permanently blind.
Meanwhile, the shift to heavily mechanized, chemically
intensive farming has so compromised the soils, water systems, and other natural infrastructure upon which all food production
depends that it's unclear how long such output can be maintained. And just as we've begun to understand the limits of our
industrialized superabundance, the burgeoning economies of Asia, where newly wealthy consumers are rapidly adopting Western-style,
meat-heavy diets, are putting new demands on global food supplies.
Comprehensive and global, with
lucid writing, dramatic detail and fresh insights, The End of Food offers readers new, accessible way to understand
the vulnerable miracle of the modern food economy. Roberts presents clear, stark visions of the future and helps us prepare
to make the decisions -- personal and global -- we must make to survive the demise of food production as we know it.
See photos from Paul's research trips