Let Them Eat Junk

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A new book explores the economics of our food system …

Arbeiter Ring Publishing is pleased to announce the release of

Let Them Eat Junk: How Capitalism Creates Hunger and Obesity
by Robert Albritton

Why are half the people in the world malnourished, while so many in the West are over-fed? Capitalism may promise cheap, nutritious food for all, but it has failed to deliver on that promise. This is the first book to explore the economics of our food system, and to explain why a quarter of the world’s population go hungry despite the fact that enough food is produced worldwide to feed us all.

Political economist Robert Albritton gives a refreshingly detailed explanation of the worldwide food crisis. He analyses the economic conditions that create a simultaneous oversupply and undersupply of food, and the massive implications they have for human health worldwide.

“[This book] pulls no punches in its analysis. … To understand how starvation and obesity can coexist in the same populations, follow the flow of capital. Everyone who cares about food equity and the preservation of democracy should read this book.”–Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, New York University

“Marx understood the dynamics of the current food crisis over a century ago. Robert Albritton has written a fine primer, bridging the best thinking of the nineteenth century to the urgent needs of the twenty-first.”–Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved

Available through
Arbeiter Ring Publishing (info@arbeiterring.com)
Literary Press Group (orders@litdistco.ca)
and Amazon.ca

260 pp
8.46 x 5.3 x 0.75

visit www.arbeiterring.com for more details


  • AND ALSO…..(a continuation from previous comment)…. Capitalism relies on a pool of unemployed workers in order to effectively keep labor costs as low as possible. Capitalism of course, is not willing to make sure that this pool has the basic necessities of life in order to survive untill there is a job opening. THAT is of no concern. Food stamps and healthcare and now even Education are SOCIALISM and to be avoided at all costs! It would increase taxes for the wealthy.

    And in the USA we have seen just how a bigger pie is cut. The more wealth that Capitalsm produces, the bigger cut those at the top can help themselves to! The people at the bottom can get by with the same old slice. They were doing OK before so why increase it. Our GNP increased, steadily over several years. The pie got bigger. The workers worked harder and produced more.

    Did we share in the bigger pie? No, our wages stagnated! Again I say, Capitalism is going to avoid costs and increase its profit. It won’t pay out if it doesn’t have to. That is the point!

    But maybe we didn’t work harder. Possibly the pie got bigger because, our corporations used up more unsustainable resources, depleted renewable resources such as soil, water, trees or fish stocks, used infrastructure but avoided taxes, polluted the planet’s air, land and water with no thought for the long haul, and moved their factories away from any country whose laborforce tried to organize or question their degraded environment. And they convinced us that we wanted more and cheaper consumer goods no matter what the cost to less developed countries. I don’t want any of that flavor of pie!

  • Have you read the book? That of course is first, before you criticize its ideas. Secondly, when Capitalism as practiced in the West actually pays the true cost of what it produces and then sells, we will find out if the theory of Capitalsm works or not.

    You say that protectionaist trade policies cause the cost of food to be artificially high. That may be. (I’m sure some entity supports those policies because it increases their profits over others.) However, the true cost of a product should INCLUDE the unsustainable use of non-renewable resources and the degredation of our shared environment. It does not. If it did, the food it offers us would prove to be much more costly than it is now. We would quickly discover that the traditional food production methods we have been talked into giving up, are much more cost effective than modern agribiz.

    Capitalist corporations do NOT choose to pay for the carbon they put in the air, the pollution they put into our water or the depletion of our soil and other resources. Not to mention the health costs caused by this negligence. It is no surprize that THESE costs must be covered by SOCIETY! In this case Capitalism finds Socialism isn’t so bad if society will cover these less obvious costs! Sometimes the cost is in the life blood of whole species, our own included.

    Capitalism has one driving purpose and that is the increase of profit and the avoidence of costs. In theory this should work, but no Capitalist corporation worth it’s salt will voluntarity lay out money to cover costs it doesn’t have to take responsibility for. This would be any cost that a corporation does not receive a bill for. Or any cost it can deny such as global warming.

    Capitalism has little concern for anything it does not perceive as having potential monetary value. Why would it? Most everything valuable about living on this planet has NO monetary value. Real value has to do with a sustainable, healthy quality of life and growth. When Capitalism actually, voluntarily shows it is capable of valueing life over profit, and is willing to pay the TRUE cost its use of the environment, then it can run the planet with no regulation or limitations! I’m not going to hold my breath.

  • In what country where there is a supposed oversupply of food is there capitalism? In the USA there are tariffs, subsidies, unbalanced taxation and regulation, etc. That’s socialistic, fascistic, corporatist. That’s not capitalism.

    And what is the solution? Communism? Socialism of one kind or another? More corporatism and fascism? USSR starved millions. Cuba isn’t doing all that well. Nor is North Korea. What socialistic country has been able to produce more food than the people living there need to such an extent as the USA?

    The problem isn’t production of food. It’s the distortion of incentives (ethanol subsidies, sugar taxes, corn subsidies) and the tyrannical remote governments which impoverish their people. The cost of food would be reduced if they weren’t kept artificially high due to protectionist trade policy and those who most efficiently produced a product was allowed to do so. And those who have a tough time affording the artificially high foods would have more wealth if their governments would stop with the horrible protectionist, anti-property and anti-business policy.

    Even if you had all that fixed it wouldn’t get rid of all the problems right away. It takes time for wealth to increase. Capital must be built up. The size of the pie will increase as will each persons slice of it but it requires people to be free to make their own decisions and for labor to flow into those locations where it is most efficient.