Food’s Big-Picture Guy

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 8.22.27 AM

I wish Olivier de Schutter had the power to match the acuity of his analysis, but it’s great that we’ve had an advocate whose vision is as broad as that of the corporations who have for the last 50 years determined global food policy. Since 2008, the human rights lawyer has had the title of United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food. (His second three-year term ends this week.) This is obviously not a genius marketing title and, even worse, the position carries no real power.

Still, the notion of an impartial observer who can see trends as corporations do — across political borders, and agnostic to them — is a valuable one. It’s easy enough for individual Americans to see how our problems may resemble Canada’s; it’s much more difficult to imagine ourselves struggling the way Indonesians do. That’s what De Schutter has done: shown us that the issues with the food system are as global as trade.

Read the rest of this column here

Posted in Uncategorized


  1. Lorraine Lewandrowski said...

    For a global farmers’ organization, see the fairly new World Farmers’ Organization at This is a global organization of farmers FOR farmers. The group is relatively new, founded just a few years ago by a few farmers from North Dakota. At this point, some 70 farmer groups from around the world have signed on. Topics they are working on include food security, climate change and the farmers’ position in the value chain.

  2. elyn zimmerman said...

    I agree that sugary drinks and junk food need to be treated by our government in a way similar to tobacco in order to alter the societal norms. What is to be considered fit for the feeding of the masses is not an arbitrary matter. Just as we recognize the dangers of second hand smoke, second hand junk food should be deemed a public health threat. This is exposure due to any force that interferes with the ability of people to wittingly or unwittingly receive health promoting foods.

  3. Lucy McGarden said...

    It’s great to know someone whose vision is about global food policy. I just hope he would continue all his advocacy.

  4. denise huxham said...

    Dear Mark,
    I read with interest your article on foodies. I visited Rwanda recently. I asked the driver of our vehicle what the staple food was. he said vegetables. I repeated, but what is the staple? he said “madam, our president believes in healthy food, and the government supplies seed and we plant and harvest vegetables. I have never seen vegetables being grown so well, with no mechanical help whatsoever. The country is small and there is not a lot of space for livestock, so eggs, vegetables and some fruit ! Justice, equality and rights, sustainable food traded in an equitable way. Viva President Paul Kagame! The other surprise was that each and every person wears a pair of Croc like shoes, “because our president believes when you have shoes you have dignity” I saw dignified people, working hard, selling their produce at large markets, for export to neighbouring countries. I never saw one overweight person, and I never saw hungry children. Not a single child begged. They welcome you and ask where you come from, but they do not beg. This is also a first for me in Africa, and it gives them dignity. There is not a scrap of paper or plastic lying around, not a tin to be seen. It is as clean as any Western country, and I am talking Switzerland, Austria. The last Saturday of the month literally very person is on the street, including ministers and the president, cleaning street poles, painting buildings, sweeping up leaves, trimming plants. All shops are closed from 8-14h00. It is we clean our country day! What a remarkable experience, and I returned with shame and anger to my own filthy, corrupt, fast-food driven country where there is enough money to go round, but very little dignity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *