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Energy, Climate Change, Meat, and Markets: Mapping the Coordinates of the Current World Food Crisis



The widely used metaphor of a perfect storm identifies the world food crisis as a contingent event that will end when food prices decline. The problem is one of supply and demand. The solution is a technological fix focused upon increasing the productivity of small farmers through a second green revolution and integrating them into markets. An international political economy/ecology approach to the food crisis reveals that the food crisis is a predictable outcome of an oil-dependent feedgrain–livestock complex supplying a meat-centric diet for those who can buy it. This complex contributes substantially to climate change and is framed by neoliberal development policies, which deepen the commoditization of food, monetize food security and leave the world’s people vulnerable to periodic food price spikes. The food crisis is linked to energy, climate change, the financial crisis and a socially and environmentally unsustainable grain–livestock complex and must be analyzed and addressed in its relational position to these other crises.