by Marion Nestle
May 14 2008

Rising food prices: who is at fault?

The New York Times writes today that India’s politicians, economists, and academics are responding to the charge that increasing prosperity in their country is responsible for the global rise in food prices. No way, they say. Like Vandana Shiva (see previous post), they cite other reasons: the West’s diversion of crop land to produce biofuels, agricultural subsidies that undermine agriculture in developing countries, trade barriers that do the same, high consumption of beef and oil resources, and high degree of food waste, along with the decline in the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar. Time for some leadership on all sides, I’d say.

  • Robin

    This is worth a read to add a dimension to the debate:

    “Poor people are the shock absorber that stabilise prices for non-storable agricultural commodities.”

  • There’s plenty of blame to go around. We have irresponsible agriculture, nations with expanding middle class sectors, and food corporations aggressively marketing to a hungry populace.

    I’m new to your blog and I’m quite impressed with the attractive design. I wonder if you have any opinion on the halal diet of Muslims or the kosher diet of Jews. They say that pork, for instance, is unclean. And indeed, trichinosis is associated with pigs. Is there any other scientific evidence to support these religious diets.

  • Welcome. A good place to start is Jean Soler’s “Semiotics of Food in the Bible.” An excerpt is available at
    Thanks for writing.