Recently, I was asked to give a short speech about policy issues relating to my research. I thought I might post those comments here, as they address at least a few of the big issues the global community grapples with these days:
When someone sitting next to me on an airplane asks me what I do, I usually say I study the politics of food. Food is gloriously universal: we all need it, and, globally, 1 in 3 of us still spends our waking hours planting and/or harvesting it. Worldwide, most farmers are poor and live in low-income countries, and are thus vulnerable both because of low levels of material wealth and because of the higher levels of social and political violence that characterize poorer countries. Thankfully, food is also a great tool for peace: from Israel and Palestine to Iraq and South Africa, “peace meals”, which bring together former partisans to conflicts and people from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, have become part of the healing process. The same, simple good cheer and food we share tonight can be part of bringing peace, stability, and hope to troubled places.