What does it mean to say that our food system is hidden from us?

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jraineharrison | College Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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The hidden food system is a concept that has recently come out due to the book, Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel.  In this book, Patel talks about the malnourishment conundrum we have in the world, and even here in the United States.  There are a considerable number of people who are overweight.  At the same time, there are large numbers of individuals who do not have enough to eat.

Patel maintains that our food system is hidden because distribution of food produced to waiting consumers is enormously costly, thus, as a result a few organizations with conglomerated power work together in secret to make all the decisions about food distribution and quality, all the "food decisions."

Stuffed and Starved investigates how our food decisions are influenced by the most powerful players in the industry and why we are left with a food system in which excess and deprivation exist side by side. (Michael Best, "Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World’s Food System Book Review" Boston University School of Public health)

Patel concludes that companies will only initiate public health measures if those public health initiatives can positively affect the bottom line. Cities and states have also been discussing and trying to legislate this as a policy issue for many years.  Recently, New York City attempted to limit the consumption of large soft drinks through legislation.  The ban on large soft drinks was later determined to be unconstitutional. 

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