The End of Food

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'The End of Oil'

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