Saturday, January 29, 2011

Food Wars

I read ravenously, I do, and for many reasons. Because I don't travel (being the only person on the face of the earth who doesn't have a passport), I rely on books to take me to different places and introduce me to other cultures. Because I need books to relax after several hours of drawing (which is work, and sometimes fun). Because some authors write so beautifully and it gives me extreme pleasure to read them. Because some books have amazing art that takes my breath away. Because the fact that I read, in itself, is good conversation fodder. And because reading makes me look smart.

I haven't opened a book in ages for the express intention of learning anything. Imagine my surprise when I picked up Walden Bello's Food Wars. Honestly, I thought it was about, well, food. You know, good food, restaurant recommendations, maybe some little anecdotes and definitely a lot of pictures. I didn't expect to learn about the global food crisis that was brought about by the displacement of peasant agriculture by a dysfunctional capitalist agriculture. I was born in the '70s but all I remember from that decade were bell-bottom pants and the music of the Bee Gees and Hall and Oates. I didn't even realize that, at the time that I was probably singing Wild World, we were not only practically rice self-sufficient but we were also a net exporter. Little did I know that the World Bank's structural adjustment program and the Philippines' entry into the World Trade Organization in 1995 were factors in the rice crisis in the country, and not the fact that our adobo, sinigang and caldereta are just so flavorful that we simply consume way too much rice than we can produce, as I had always believed.

There was not a single picture in the book and it was not exactly what I'd call a relaxing read. But I think I may just be a tad smarter from reading it.

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