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  • Pre-order your copy of Bet the Farm now. Out October 2012.

    “This story should have been on the front page of the New York Times.”
    – Jami Floyd, Political Analyst, MSNBC

    “It’s on the reading list for my NYU classes.”
    – Marion Nestle, author of Why Calories Count and Food Politics

    “'Eating is an agricultural act,’ as Wendell Berry said, but Frederick Kaufman shows, undeniably, that it is an economic act as well.”
    – Dan Barber, chef, author, activist

    “Kaufman makes a convincing and terrifying case that the same merchant bankers who destroyed our housing market–and economy–five years ago are at it again. This time their target is the world’s food supply.”
    – Barry Estabrook, author of Tomatoland


  • Now available in paperback.

    Winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Award, "Best Culinary History Book, 2008."

  • A Short History of the American Stomach
    The extremes of American eating—our urge to stuff and to starve ourselves—are easy to blame on the excesses of modern living. But, we’ve been this way all along. From the secret history of Puritan purges to interviews with Amish black-market raw-milk dealers, this is the story of America told by way of the American stomach.

    "Kaufman’s witty historical analysis will be a treat for anyone interested in food."
    - Time Out New York

    "For the foodie on your gift list."
    - Zagat.com

    "A hip, journalistic approach to America's all-consuming relationship to the gut, from Puritan rituals of fasting to the creation of the Food Network."
    - Publisher's Weekly

    "Brilliant. Original. Inspirational."
    - NPR's Kitchen Sisters

    “Gourmets and gourmands alike will savor Kaufman’s keen, caustic anatomy of the American palate.”
    —Kirkus Reviews

    “Who knew that Cotton Mather was America’s first food faddist or Benjamin Franklin our founding foodie? I loved every chapter of Kaufman’s book. American history has never been so much fun.”
    —Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat

    “A Short History of the American Stomach gives us something fresh, mixing erudition and passion with a tempered, lean, accurate prose that never misses its beats and never compromises a witty economy of style. Petronius would be proud.”
    —Lawrence Osborne, author of The Accidental Connoisseur

    “Kaufman makes brilliant use of humor and history to expose American's bipolar relationship with food. This is the book to read if you want to understand why, generation after generation, we doggedly persist in dividing edibles into good and bad, healthy and deadly, alternately stuffing then depriving ourselves, worshiping processed foods one year and organic the next, ad nauseam.”
    —Barry Glassner, author of The Gospel of Food

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May 02, 2011

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Comments

Mickey D

I don't understand this at all: by what mechanism is an increasing amount of speculation in the futures market supposed to impact the current price of food? I can see that happening with a commodity you can stockpile but how's it supposed to work with something perishable like food? The speculators never hold the physical product so how can they impact the price of food which is set by the usual mechanism of supply and demand.

See also some interesting comments at Boing Boing:

http://www.boingboing.net/2011/04/29/how-goldman-sachs-cr.html


Green Reserve

This is something of a straw that broke the camel's back rather than the entire cause of the problem. Prices certainly strained the system, but the problem was that the system was not designed to take rapid price changes gracefully. These long positions are simply reinforcing the structural problems with the food system:

http://greenreserve.blogspot.com/2011/05/water-and-food-are-strategic-resources.html

Anonymous

Long-term prices are set by supply and demand. Let's say that speculation can affect spot prices, which is controversial enough (compare to metal prices here: http://ideas.repec.org/p/fip/fedgfe/2009-29.html). If the market price is set higher than the efficient price, then there should be excess supply. Where is this new excess supply sitting?

Green Reserve

Agricultural production has natural limits.

We are hitting them.

That's where the supply is: it isn't.
See:
http://greenreserve.blogspot.com/2011/02/supply-and-demand.html
(the bit at the top)
and
http://greenreserve.blogspot.com/2011/03/open-letter-to-mom-and-dad.html
(the bit at the bottom)

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Frederick Kaufman

  • The food journalist who went looking for a slice of pizza and ended up on Wall Street.


  • I have written about American food culture and other subjects for Harper's Magazine, the New Yorker, Gourmet, Gastronomica, and the New York Times Magazine, among others. I've been a freelancer for years, and published something like one-hundred magazine articles, along with four books. I'm a contributing editor at Harper's, and teach at the City University of New York and CUNY's Graduate School of Journalism. Born in LA, I live in New York.

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