Eric Holt-Giménez: What's wrong with the industrial food system and the challenges facing food justice movements

12 January 2012
Eric Holt-Giménez

In the industrial or corporate food regime, hunger is a staple commodity. Agrarian and food justice movements have come a long way in building an alternative system, but there are still many challenges.

We talked to Eric Holt-Giménez, Executive Director of Food First / Institute for Food and Development Policy, about hunger, food and agroecological alternatives, during a day-long colloquium at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague, The Netherlands, on Monday 12 December 2011. The event brought together some of the world's leading radical thinkers and activists working on the issues of food and the future of farming. Speakers included Olivier de Schutter, Frances Moore Lappé, Miguel Altieri, Jan Douwe van der Ploeg, Eric Holt-Giménez, Robin Broad and Tony Weis.

Presentations addressed the following questions: How do we understand and tackle the interlinked agrarian and environmental crises? What types of policies create sustainable development that guarantees justice, equality and autonomy for poor and marginalized communities? What types of food movements have emerged and why, and with what challenges?

Video 1. How will the dominant industrial food system solve the problem of hunger?

Eric talks here about the persistent problem of hunger, and how it is a product of the industrial corporate food regime, rather than an anomaly or the result of scarcity. Since hunger, as well as environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, increasing carbon emissions and climate change are produced by this system, new ways of thinking and acting are needed to bring about real change.

Video 2. What challenges do food and farming movements face going forward?

Eric argues that real change in the food system needs to be brought about by people - the farmers, producers, consumers and communities who want equal access to healthy food and a healthy environment. There needs to be both practitioners - people who are building alternatives, and the advocates - the educators and policy researchers.

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The Political Economy of Oil Palm as a Flex Crop

The ‘how’ and ‘why’ of oil palm flexing is heavily influenced by a synthesis of forces and relations within and around the oil palm value web. These dynamics impact the way flexing among oil palm’s different uses is influenced and/or carried out by various powerful actors within the state, the private sector, and civil society.

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