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42 Responses

  1. Sepra
    Sepra May 8, 2008 at 11:45 am |

    This famine is – wow, I can’t even begin. It is totally a feminist issue when women and children are starving because our food distribution system is messed up. I have been following these events with absolute horror, and am still waiting for it to impact us even more here at home.

  2. ThePakistaniHereticalGirl
    ThePakistaniHereticalGirl May 8, 2008 at 1:14 pm |

    I already know that this issue is hitting hard, women in Pakistan are struggling to cope with food prices, including basic staples like rice. This is cos of increase in gas costs, this is passed on to the consumer in increased prices. Everything is going up, PK is a huge energy importer, and women and children are the first to feel the strain as food becomes less affordable. As social instability spreads, domestic abuse and child abandonment increase. This intersects with delayed marriage cos no one has no money leading to even more harassement on the streets. Islamists are on hand to offer an alternative solution, MORE REPRESSION and a return to medieval feudalism. The more America drops ure bombs, oil prices jolt, now over $122 pb- up to $180 if u attack Iran, but the more Islam spreads in society, feeding on our poverty and desperation, and the more women are margianilzed. Americans should be the fist to know therefore that this is a feminist issue for a wide range of complex reasonings.But I think you got no interest to listen. Another, no need for American feminists to support Islam, cos CENTCOM is doing agreat job of spreading theocratic patriarchy all on its own, u drop the bombs and ure Gulf Arabi friends keep the oil price high. This is we was happy when you invade Afghanistan first time, but now we do not believe no more (don’t trust also).

  3. Rebecca
    Rebecca May 8, 2008 at 1:18 pm |

    hey, I’m not trying to be rude here. I’m a feminist all the way. But some citations would make this website a lot more valuable to me. If it’s not backed by facts I can’t hold it as my own opinion. For instance, you said women make two thirds of the work force? Wow, that’s really interesting. Can we get citations on those kinds of things in the future, please? thanks.

    -R

  4. Just Saying
    Just Saying May 8, 2008 at 1:25 pm |

    Potential remedies:

    – End all agricultural subsidies.
    – End corn ethanol subsidies.
    – Increase food aid.
    – End all policies designed to keep the “family farm” in place; the family farm is an anachronism, and the sooner we recognize it the better off we’ll be.

    Those four things would go a long way, although there would still be more to do.

  5. Side Effects of Gentrification: Lack of Accessibility to Affordable Quality Food « Under Construction…Until I Say So

    [...] an Anxious Black Woman: “Food is a Feminist Issue: Keeping the Third Horseman at Bay” Feministe: “Food is a Feminist Issue” Feminocracy: “the Rising Cost of Food = Very Real Hunger, Part 1″ Possibly related [...]

  6. Entomologista
    Entomologista May 8, 2008 at 2:22 pm |

    It’s not just about distribution, although oil prices do make things worse. The major problem right now is that more and more land is given over to ethanol production. But food supply isn’t really a new problem – it’s just that ethanol production has increased the problem and brought it to the attention of the public. Yields have increased more than 300% during the 20th century to meet the demands of an exponentially increasing population. My professor says we’re at the level of food instability right now that we were at right before the Green Revolution. 85% of future growth in food production will have to come from land already in use.

    You forgot one very important reason why yields have increased: pest control.

  7. Jill
    Jill May 8, 2008 at 4:16 pm | *

    hey, I’m not trying to be rude here. I’m a feminist all the way. But some citations would make this website a lot more valuable to me. If it’s not backed by facts I can’t hold it as my own opinion. For instance, you said women make two thirds of the work force? Wow, that’s really interesting. Can we get citations on those kinds of things in the future, please? thanks.

    This is a blog not a research paper.

  8. Mike
    Mike May 8, 2008 at 4:25 pm |

    This is a blog not a research paper.

    True enough… But if you’re presenting your opinions as even vaguely authoritative based on what you claim to be facts (which we all are, intent or not; it’s a consequence of the medium, IMO), you kind of owe it to your readers; and to yourselves, really.

    The price of being credible is having to be credible.

  9. ThePakistaniHereticalGirl
    ThePakistaniHereticalGirl May 8, 2008 at 4:37 pm |

    I don’t think that we need academic citations when we got the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, just last week warning about global famine. And yes, the most vulnerable will be the first to suffer, this is women and children. One of the reasons General Musharraf is so unpopluar is not cos of his ideas, no, it’s cos people are very very starving and can not live in 2008 like they was in 2005, for example. Pakistan needs from America:
    1) US wheat
    2) Cooking oil
    3) Oil deliveries
    If you do not assist to offset the huge cost of oil imports, we are going to have a Islamic-Taliban state, this is what I think. People do not want this, but they are hungry.

  10. Mike
    Mike May 8, 2008 at 4:41 pm |

    Yes, I saw. It was really more about credibility in general, leading on from Jill’s post, than this specific instance. Thanks, anyway.

  11. Jill
    Jill May 8, 2008 at 5:27 pm | *

    True enough… But if you’re presenting your opinions as even vaguely authoritative based on what you claim to be facts (which we all are, intent or not; it’s a consequence of the medium, IMO), you kind of owe it to your readers; and to yourselves, really.

    The price of being credible is having to be credible.

    Well, except the source was supplied — just not meticulously cited.

    And yeah, I get irritated when people show up here and start making demands of the bloggers. It happens a lot — “You should be writing about this!” “You need to cite this!” “You should do this!” — and it’s really annoying. Google is a great tool, and I think it’s a little silly that we should have to formally cite every claim we make — especially when we consistently do link the sources we draw from, and where in this case, Thomas both linked to articles and mentioned a book he got this information from. Yes, we have an obligation to give the source of factual claims. Of course we do. But Thomas did source his factual claims with a link, which is the standard for blogs. What he didn’t do is spend hours upon hours meticulously researching this issue and creating formal citations. But that’s not how blogs work, and that’s not our obligation. To read this post and then show up saying you want citations, when the links are all there, is a ridiculous standard.

    And yes, to earn credibility, you have to credible. But I think Thomas has certainly established the credibility of his claims here. I suspect what’s going on is that Rebecca wants more information, and is too lazy to google it herself, and would like it all provided here. That’s not our job.

  12. SoE
    SoE May 8, 2008 at 7:16 pm |

    Another point about the food crisis and one that makes me really sick: Big food companies doubling/tenfolding their profits “thanks” to the scarcity.

  13. sophonisba
    sophonisba May 9, 2008 at 12:23 am |

    But that’s not how blogs work

    Ha ha, no. What you mean is,

    that’s not how we run our blog.

    Which is fine. You want to be conversational, not academic, fine, go nuts. No problem. But blogs work however you want them to work. They are a medium, not a genre. You might as well say “that’s not how written communication works.” Come on.

  14. Food is a Feminist Issue* « Feminist Philosophers

    [...] there’s a world-wide famine. Go read Diary of an Anxious Black Woman. And Feminocracy. And Feministe. This is desperately important stuff. (*Title from ABW.) [...]

  15. deviousdiva
    deviousdiva May 9, 2008 at 7:33 am |

    I am continually surprised at how defensive people are about this blog. It is after all just a blog. If people are making a living from it then it is rather deceitful to say (Jill) “I get irritated when people show up here and start making demands of the bloggers. It happens a lot — “You should be writing about this!” “You need to cite this!” “You should do this!” — and it’s really annoying”

    If you are earning money from this, I assume that’s because WE read, then we have the right to ask questions don’t we?

    If you are not making a living from this, why are you so upset about people criticising the posts? It’s just a blog. “We’re sorry for not citing work etc etc ” and move on ?

    I hardly ever comment here for fear of being boiled alive but enough is enough. I am bored of this “holier than thou” attitude. After all, you wouldn’t be there without us right?

  16. Toni
    Toni May 9, 2008 at 10:12 am |

    DeviousDive, your last sentence makes me think you should go and read this: Entitlement and The Modern Fandom.

  17. Toni
    Toni May 9, 2008 at 10:13 am |

    Sorry for the misspelling, DeviousDiva! I haven’t finished my morning coffee yet.

  18. Jill
    Jill May 9, 2008 at 10:23 am | *

    If people are making a living from it then it is rather deceitful to say (Jill) “I get irritated when people show up here and start making demands of the bloggers. It happens a lot — “You should be writing about this!” “You need to cite this!” “You should do this!” — and it’s really annoying”

    I make exactly $0 from Feministe, FYI.

    If you are not making a living from this, why are you so upset about people criticising the posts? It’s just a blog. “We’re sorry for not citing work etc etc ” and move on ?

    Because it’s constant, and it gets really draining. Criticism is one thing; demands (especially demands for information that is essentially already there) are another. This kind of stuff happens in emails, comments and trackbacks all the time — people feel entitled to tell you everything you should be doing, from how you should cite to what you should be covering if you really cared and on and on. If you think I’m being defensive, that’s fine. But yeah, one out of every 50 times this happens, it’s going to annoy me enough where I respond.

  19. Jill
    Jill May 9, 2008 at 10:26 am | *

    Ha ha, no. What you mean is,

    that’s not how we run our blog.

    Which is fine. You want to be conversational, not academic, fine, go nuts. No problem. But blogs work however you want them to work. They are a medium, not a genre. You might as well say “that’s not how written communication works.”

    Fine. But no, it’s not that we want to be “controversial, not academic.” I think we are more interested in disseminating information and having conversations than starting controversy. While blogs can certainly be whatever you want them to be, what I meant was that there’s a generally accepted standard in the blogosphere for linking and citations — you link to wherever you found a fact or an article or a piece of information, or if it’s from a book, you say so and give the title and author. What I meant was that Feministe fits this standard. I don’t know of any blogs that formally cite sources. I’m sure they exist, and that’s fine, but I was simply trying to make the point that most bloggers do things this way.

  20. deviousdiva
    deviousdiva May 9, 2008 at 10:27 am |

    Thomas, why do you see tension ? One is about my feelings about commenting here and the other refers to the blog authors ?

  21. Mike
    Mike May 9, 2008 at 11:17 am |

    Points taken, Jill and Thomas – I therefore won’t post my reply to Jill here, recognising that it would be a further bunny trail…

    The primary issue is a good one for discussion and activity, and people’s awareness of it needs to be raised generally, in order that something be done about it.

    So. What do we do about it? Like, what charities are appropriate points to donate to, and so on?

  22. Rachel
    Rachel May 9, 2008 at 1:30 pm |

    All modern famines are failures of entitlement, not of food production. There’s enough food, but some people due to poverty or other barriers cannot get it.

    Is this really “just” a distribution problem? It seems to me that the whole tangle of issues includes also overpopulation. Since Amartya Sen’s book was published in 1981, world population has increased by about 45%. What might have been true prior to 1981 might no longer be true now.

    Certainly as SoE (# 14) points out, the food companies are making things worse because they smell money but I don’t think that’s the end of the story. At some point, this planet will no longer be able to sustain everybody. It feels rather arrogant for me to write this from the comfort of my US cube: Who am I to point out that there are too many people to feed? But I think we need to also face this reality as dire and depressing as it is. Not facing it will just make things worse and avoid us from coming up with solutions, which most definitely need to include better distribution and more responsible eating by us in the rich nations (like eating less meat).

  23. exholt
    exholt May 9, 2008 at 1:35 pm |

    Regarding energy policy, I think we need to move away from biofuels — every gallon of fuel we grow is that much land out of the business of producing food. Energy is not quite fungible, but it is convertible. We need to pursue sustainables.

    I’m dismayed, though not too surprised at how corn is being centered as the source of ethanol biofuel when I’ve heard and read that it is not very efficient once the energy costs of converting corn to fuel is taken into account. Though this is not an efficient energy source, it is a big bonanza for corn farmers who already receive large agricultural subsidies from the Federal government.

    Personally, I’ve been a big fan of solar power technologies and have hoped since high school that solar power will become a viable sustainable alternative energy source.* Unfortunately, even with the high oil prices, far more funding seems to be going towards biofuels than solar…..and other sustainable sources have location limitations and/or are obstructed by various forms of political NIMBYism, especially among the upper/upper-middle class as the contentious case of placing wind power turbines off the distant shores of Cape Cod would indicate.

  24. Entomologista
    Entomologista May 9, 2008 at 2:10 pm |

    What can we do? There are ways in which research and extension work needs to be improved – not enough extension education targets women. More research needs to be done to find ways to help women farmers improve their yields. One really good example from FAO is that women were reluctant to adopt the new shorter but higher yield rice because it’s harder to harvest with a baby on your back. We need to make sure everybody is benefiting from agricultural research. But I’m not sure how to do that.

  25. baserinstincts » Link Lovin’
    baserinstincts » Link Lovin’ May 9, 2008 at 11:49 pm |

    [...] Feministe – Food Is A Feminist Issue – I’m a foodie and I work in the industry and so most days my job is fun. But I also get to see first hand what’s happening and not just in America as the price of food continues to rise and that’s not so pleasant. [...]

  26. Mike
    Mike May 11, 2008 at 8:31 am |

    If folks know this side of the issue better, information would help us all.

    So… Basically, we blog? I don’t want to be snarky and unhelpful here, but circumstances force it on me. That seems like a perfect way of avoiding the issue while reinforcing one’s “progressive” credentials.

    Having looked further into it, I suppose the best possible things I can do on a personal level, as a relatively poor person, are to buy FairTrade goods wherever possible and support organisations like Oxfam, Send A Cow and OLPC wherever I can. Yes, some charity might well be harmful, but that doesn’t mean it all is; if a charity teaches or provides a large (relatively-speaking) asset like a cow which keeps giving or a laptop for 3W children to be better educated, then I’d say that is pretty worthwhile.

  27. Go Vegetarian or Vegan To Help Solve World Hunger
    Go Vegetarian or Vegan To Help Solve World Hunger May 11, 2008 at 11:18 am |

    On a personal level, you can do more than what Mike suggests. You can go vegetarian or vegan.

    Sending a cow isn’t a good idea. The poor people are already going vegetarian because they know it’s a cheaper, more sustainable way to eat. Do you think people would rather grow grain for their cows to eat or grow grains to eat themselves? Think about it. Corn and wheat feed people and cows.

    A “cow keeps on giving” only after you buy or grow grains to feed her, inseminate her, take her milk, and slaughter her baby (because you can’t afford to feed the baby and yourself at the same time). She’ll dry up eventually and then you’ve got to inseminate her again, kill her baby, and so on…. Overall, it’s a much less efficient method of food production that simply growing plant foods and eating those yourself.

    Giving poor people cows will NOT solve the food crisis. The food crisis is due to a shortage of GRAINS (that have been diverted to feed livestock and produce biofuels instead of feeding people) and unethical commodities trading that has unfairly increased the prices of grains so that poor people can’t afford them any longer.

    Think about it: what can you do? You can’t easily slow population growth. You can’t easily reform commodities trading. But you can easily change your own diet.

    Read more here:
    http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/04/food-riots-begi.html

  28. Mike
    Mike May 11, 2008 at 12:20 pm |

    A cow is a working animal in a lot of the world, rather than simply a food animal, and may or may not be slaughtered or used for milk at all. The point is that it is a means to help grain and rice farmers, rather than getting them onto another form of farming; not every country follows the same food patterns, as you should know.

  29. Laura
    Laura May 11, 2008 at 9:47 pm |

    Sharon Astyk, over at Casaubon’s Book, has a great post – heck, an entire great blog – about the current food crisis, how it affects women in particular, and what concrete steps each of us can take to help.

    I agree that buying Fair Trade is a good first step, as is staying away from biofuels (seemed like a good idea at the time, but we can’t afford the market consequences). We’re going to have to go farther than that, though, and really start eating locally and lower on the food chain. I’m not convinced that veganism or vegetarianism is necessary – if you live in the Midwest, some organic, grass-fed beef is entirely ecologically appropriate every once in a while – but reducing our energy consumption, Sharon argues, is how we contribute to solving the distribution problem. (Tons o’ links and citations over there.)

  30. Matt
    Matt May 11, 2008 at 9:49 pm |

    Be careful on advocating vegetarianism and veganism to everyone out there. Not everyone’s body works in the exact same way.

    There do exist people with allergies to soy and diabetes (like me, for example). Do you have any idea how hard it would be for me to maintain a vegetarian diet and die of malnutrition?

    However, points about grain (and corn!) being used to feed livestock are spot on. Animals such as cows are healthiest when the graze on grass (which cannot be consumed by humans. Meat coming from cows which feed solely on grass is food that would not have existed without the cows themselves). Feeding them corn causes bloating first, and infections later, which has cattle farmers feeding their cattle lots of antibiotics with their daily feed. Cattle consume antibiotics on a staggering level… and this is contributing to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

  31. Becci
    Becci May 12, 2008 at 2:21 am |

    Matt–

    I have allergies to soy, wheat, and nuts. I have been vegan for 4 years and am in great health, at least according to my doctor.

    You can be vegan if you really want to. :)

  32. Food is a Feminist Issue « Evolution of a Foodie

    [...] Read it here. [...]

  33. Mike
    Mike May 12, 2008 at 11:51 am |

    [...]reducing our energy consumption, Sharon argues, is how we contribute to solving the distribution problem.

    Which is why my employer is running this program, of which I am a representive. It’s not much per person, but across 19000 employees, it can add up.

  34. Mike
    Mike May 12, 2008 at 3:32 pm |

    Sorry, in something of a rush with that last comment. I should be clear that while the FF program’s stated “official” goal is a reduction in emissions, most of the people involved are very committed to green and progressive issues.

  35. Allison
    Allison May 15, 2008 at 1:21 am |

    I don’t object to your general point, but that statistic about women owning 1% of the world’s wealth is almost 30 years out of date. Here’s one citation that the site you link to could be drawing on: “While women represent half the global population and one-third of the paid labor force and are responsible for two-thirds of all working hours, they receive only one-tenth of world income and own less than 1 percent of world property.” It’s from J. Ann Tickner’s Gender in International Relations (which is brilliant, by the way) published in 1981. I know we haven’t made as much progress as we should have, but I know a few things have changed!

  36. TracyFood » Recent reading roundup!

    [...] of rising food prices, I have been meaning to read Food is a Feminist Issue at Feministe for quite some time, and I keep fricken forgetting. [...]

  37. hunger, poverty, population growth… « strength never power

    [...] later add (h/t feministe): [...]

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