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The end of food

By Paul Roberts
Published by Bloomsbury
Website: www.bloomsbury.com
2008, 390pp, ISBN 978 0 7475 8881 8(Pb), £12.99

Paul Roberts' new title raises an important question: do we really need more end-time literature? Observers have long contemplated, with Malthusian dread, the cultural, ecological and economic tipping points that will change the world forever. Having had The end of oil (Roberts was responsible for this title too), and now The end of food, how long will it be before we ponder the end of water or the end of air? A growing public sense of teleological fatigue means Roberts now has to work very hard to warrant our attention. But he's good, and it quickly becomes clear that he's not talking about the end of food altogether, rather the troubling likelihood of the collapse of the global food system. For Roberts, the symptoms are everywhere: the rise in obesity and food-borne diseases, a failure to tackle widespread hunger, and the industrialisation of agriculture to unsustainable levels. Although not as engaging as other recent critical narratives on the state of the global food system, nonetheless, this is a clear, in-depth, all-embracing description of the current state of affairs. If and when Judgement Day does arrive, at least Roberts will be able to say what many of us won't: "at least I tried."

Date published: November 2008


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