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Brewster Kneen

Toronto, NC Press, 1989.160pp, paper, $14.95
ISBN 1-555021-050-5. CIP

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by Marilyn Aldworth.

Volume 17 Number 5
1989 September

A very readable and informative book about a subject that concerns us all. It is an expose of the food system and how it works on a global basis.

Brewster Kneen is an economist and theologian who has farmed in Nova Scotia and been very active in farm politics. His theological background helps provide readers with some hope and viable alternatives to feeling helpless and angry about our present food system. Pesticides, Third World starvation, soil erosion, food irradiation, standardized fruits with little flavour or taste, and animal cruelty arc just some of the issues that arc dealt with in this comprehensive book.

Anyone who has ever eaten at a McDonald's will think twice before biting into a Big Mac and french fries. As consumers, we often get blamed for demands and certain specifications of food, but it is actually the big multi-na­tional companies like Nestle, Kraft, or Ciba Geigy who are the profit-takers that are to blame for mechanical uni­formity, and the wrinkle-free tomato. For an example of the technological demands on farmers look at a kiwi fruit. To be manageable electronically, each kiwi fruit must be the same size in order to fit properly into the container that will be handled by electronically guided equipment into and out of the warehouse. Remember the taste of a homegrown tomato compared to a genetically engineered tomato? Is this progress?

What we may accept as diversity within our shopping marketplace has been exposed to show that it is a mere handful of corporations who control everything from the seed to the chemicals to the machinery used. In North America many of us are eating well at the expense of the developing countries that are the majority of the world's population.

This book will be a springboard and resource for many discussions, debates, and questions about the hows and whys of our food system.

Highly recommended for school and public libraries.

Marilyn Aldworth, North Vancouver School District, North Vancouver, B.C.
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