“[Reparation Ecology] is an invitation to observe these big transformations as reparation. Moving away from capitalism moving toward something much better…it is a deeper way of engaging with the  politics of possibility after capitalism.” -Raj Patel

On this edition of The Secret Ingredient hosts Tom Philpott and Rebecca McInroy turn the tables on Raj Patel to interview him along with Jason W. Moore about their new book, A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and The Future of The Planet.

 

 

“The work we do is too important to the nation. We are the people who make it possible for every meal to exist. We feed the nation and we ask, have always asked, for the possibility to feed our own families in a dignified way without having to be in a vulnerable position all the time…Right now our community is in need and that is going to be the case for a while…but then the most important thing is not how to go back to normal necessarily, because normal for us it’s poor, it’s vulnerable, it’s all the things that make it really scary when hurricanes hit our area.” –Gerardo Reyes Chavez, Coalition of Immokalee Workers

When hurricane Irma hit the Florida coast in September of 2017, one place under siege was Immokalee, FL; the center of the region’s agriculture industry and home to many immigrant and migrant families, where almost 90% of the nation’s tomatoes are harvested during the winter months.

In this edition of The Secret IngredientRaj Patel and Tom Philpott talk with Gerardo Reyes Chavez and Julia Perkins from The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, about not only about what is needed now in the aftermath of this devastating hurricane, but also about why this population is so vulnerable, underserved, and exploited, and what they have done to transform the food industry through the Fair Food Program.

“Most of all I would like more coming to terms with what happened…I think what needs to be done is for all of my fellow citizens in this country to understand what happened and to be able to say, this is what was done and now we must think about how to make the playing field level for all of us in this country, and by some ways for all of us eventually in the world. Because we can’t live by ignoring that past.” –Sidney Mintz

In this bonus edition of The Secret Ingredient, Raj Patel, Tom Philpott and Rebecca McInroy revisit the conversation with anthropologist Sidney Mintz about his seminal work “Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar In Modern History.”

The interview took place in September of 2015 and later that year on December 27th Dr. Mintz passed away.

In this extended interview, Mintz not only takes us through our prehistoric relationship to sweetness–from the bloody history of slavery and sugar production to our current state of the mass production and consumption of sweetness worldwide, but he also talks about his development as an anthropologist and thinker. He discusses his time as a student of anthropology and how he was able to study in Puerto Rico, along with who was influencing his thinking at the time. He also talks about how factories developed on the sugar plantations and the way slavery developed in the New World, as well as the role this brutal past plays in current volatile racial relations in the U.S.

As hurricanes continue to wreak havoc on the Caribbean and our hearts go out to all those who are suffering, we look to Mintz for wisdom and guidance in the days ahead.

We have to do something to take us off this treadmill of ratcheting up land prices.” -Suzan Erem, The Sustainable Iowa Land Trust

On the latest edition of The Secret Ingredient Raj Patel, Tom Philpott, and Rebecca McInroy talk with Suzan Erem about the future of US farming.

Erum is the president and co-founder of the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust (SILT), and author of Labor Pains: Inside America’s New Union Movement.

We spoke to her from the studios of Iowa Public Radio in Iowa City, Iowa.

Life begins with the seed germinating…we depend on seed and most of the seed is the seed we will produce, have it, save and use in the next planting season. That’s what most of the farmers in Tanzania still do… It was inherited for generations and generations.” –Janet Maro

The seed exchange system that Maro speaks about is currently under threat in Tanzania. Assistance organizations in that country that are seeking to help small farms also supported regulations that banned seed-sharing – a generations-old practice among small-scale farmers. Tanzania passed legislation that made it illegal to share seeds as a condition for receiving development assistance through the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (NAFSN). You can read more about the legislation in this article.

In this episode of The Secret Ingredient, we wanted to find out more about this new law, so Raj Patel, Tom Philpott, and Rebecca McInroy called up Janet Maro, head of Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT).

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Since this show was recorded in December of last year, Maro said that SAT had a seed stakeholders platform, in which farmers met with Tanzanian officials to discuss the ramifications of the law. Although the small-scale farmers gained more clarity about the overall effects of seed-sharing, she says, they still want exemption from penalties as a result of seed-sharing.

James Baldwin said, “the purpose of art is to lay bare the questions that have been hidden by the answers.” When considering this sentiment in relationship to “nutritionism” one might look at Aya Kimura‘s book, Hidden Hunger: Gender and the Politics of Smarter Foods, as a work of “art” as she explores the questions that remain after the “experts” answer problems of micronutrient deficiencies with the science of fortification and biofortification.

In the latest edition of The Secret Ingredient, Raj Patel, Tom Philpott and Rebecca McInroy talk with Kimura about food and culture, market forces, and what is lost when the “western savior comes in to rescue the global south.”