Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Book Review: So Shall We Reap by Colin Tudge

Food continues to become cheaper and accessible through supermarkets, but is it getting better, and is the current supply sustainable? In "So Shall We Reap" author Colin Tudge deals with such questions by linking gastronomy, the hunter gatherer and the rural economy to oil production, health, animal welfare and cut-throat business practices. In this book the reader learns about the global food industry and how it has changed throughout the last century and how these changes have resulted in the call for Genetically Modified Organisms by parties set to benefit economically by their introduction.

Although written by a scientist, who is able to rely on a wide variety of disciplines from which he provides evidence for his arguments, this book is an enjoyable and informative read, linking from one topic to another with great skill in something of a revelationary, but not preachy, style.

This book uses easy-to-understand language, while never being patronizing, to make the point that modern agriculture is nowhere near as "efficient" as many people would have us believe, burdened as it is by its link to the availability of cheap oil, pollution, the demise of the rural economy and the uneven distribution of wealth.

One of the failings of books about the environment and social equality is that they tend to be rather depressing but somehow this author manages to mostly avoid that and explain how things could quite easily be different, although at times it can be saddening to see our own place in the chain which is causing environmental and social problems.

For anyone interested in cuisine, social equality, conservation or agriculture this book is an essential read and one can only feel that if those involved in agricultural policy making had an awareness of how all these issues fit together as acute as the author's then humanity might not be languishing as it is. This book is logically argued and the author does well to counter arguments against his philosophy before they are raised. Some points, however, are a little repetitively argued but, as the adage says, if a point is worth making once it is worth making again.

I would suggest that to students of agriculture, ecology, conservation, politics and social affairs this book is essential reading and readers with an enquiring mind will find it surpringly interesting. The themes covered here affect everybody and as such it will be enjoyed by any reader who enjoys intelligently argued writing.

Score: 9.5/10

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