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Publisher's Summary

Here is the frightening truth about the modern food system.

The best-selling author of The End of Oil turns his attention to food and finds that the system we've entrusted with meeting one of our most basic needs is dramatically failing us. With his trademark comprehensive global approach, Paul Roberts investigates the startling truth about the modern food system: the way we make food, market and consume it, and even think about it, is no longer compatible or safe for the billions of consumers the system was built to serve. The emergence of large-scale and efficient food production changed forever our relationship with food and ultimately left a vulnerable and paradoxical system in place.

Over 1.1 billion people worldwide are "over-nourished", according to the World Health Organization, and are at risk of obesity-related illness, while roughly as many people are starving.

Meanwhile, the natural systems all food is dependent upon have been irreparably damaged by chemicals and destructive farming techniques; the pressures of low-cost food production court contamination and disease; and big food consumers, such as China and India, are already planning for tightened global food supplies, making it clear that the era of superabundance is behind us.

Vivid descriptions, lucid explanations, and fresh thinking make The End of Food uniquely able to offer a new, accessible way to understand the vulnerable miracle of the modern food economy.

Roberts presents clear, stark visions of the future and helps us prepare to make the decisions - personal and global - we must make to survive the demise of food production as we know it.

©2008 Paul Roberts (P)2008 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"A revealing, deeply dismaying overview of how the world's food is produced and marketed." ( Kirkus)

What members say

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  • Overall
  • John M
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • 07-21-09

kinda boring

compared with michael pollan, whose books are enthralling, this is a bit dry. There's an interesting bit about the rise of the global food conglomerates like nestle, but it goes downhill. I'd skip it and get the pollan books.

24 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Dogmatic but interesting

I too am concerned with what the industrial food system is doing to our health, our society and my own individual ability to choose exactly what I want to eat. This author however is more agenda driven then objectively driven.

One of the more interesting aspects of the real-food community is its overlap between people of differing ideologies. Go to a raw milk pick-up point and you'll meet old hippies and homeschooling Christian families all chatting and sharing in their passion for the natural, healthy way of life.

This author wouldn't enjoy such a crowd. He's subjective, dogmatic and terribly wrong on many details. It's still a readable book because he is taking on the Monsantos and Walmarts of the world, but I cringe to think of anyone that might accidentally pick this book up as their introduction to the subject as a whole.

For the newcomer to this larger subject I would suggest the obvious "Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan and of course Wendell Berry and Joel Salatin both. Really, read both, not just one of them.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Interesting Take on Food Security

The story itself is well done and definitely give you something to think about. You may not agree with all or any of the authors conclusion but it does get one think about how food is produced and if this is sustainable. I did not think it was very scientific which works to the books advantage but also its disadvantage. It works because it is easy to listen to and gets you thinking. It does not work because I would like to know about some of his data sources for reliability. This is not to say I think he lied or even over exaggerated but I always like to understand the context of a claim.

The actual recording of this book was good EXCEPT for all the pauses. The reader would be in mid sentence and then you get a pause. Also between chapters the reader sounded different so for a moment I would think something happened in the down load. These issues do not take away from the book but it is sloppy editing and are rather annoying.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • Carroll
  • Hilo, HI, United States
  • 05-12-14

Interesting factoids...

a bit opinionated, but well presented changes we rarely hear about.... the one's I followed up were indeed accurate... recommended.

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  • Grant
  • CINCINNATI, OH, United States
  • 03-08-14

Not what I expected

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

If you like the facts and just that, this book is for you.

Would you ever listen to anything by Paul Roberts again?

Probably not. The content seemed dry.

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  • Story

A disturbing future looms

An in depth discussion of modern agriculture that was a primer for me listening to Micheal Pollan and Joel Salatin.Food is abundant for now,but how long can it hold out in world with people living longer than ever and population advancing more rapidly than ever.The future seems bleak,but perhaps the same guys who figured out how to fix nitrogen in the soil to increase crop yields which led to our vast population will figure out how to expand an ever shrinking food supply.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Doug
  • Wisconsin
  • 12-24-09


While it may be already too late, we need to look more and more at getting to sustainability and nutrition. It really explains a lot of our food history.

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  • Peter
  • patchogue, NY, USA
  • 11-30-09

Very Informative

Gives me a new perception of just buying everyday produce.

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  • Story

Very interesting!

I was riveted to almost all of it.

The global economics of farming part, although interesting and important in its own right, doesn’t hold my interest as much as all the little factoids like: how Wal-Mart keeps their food prices down and how Pizza Hut controls a significant portion of the national cheese industry! How there is a shift in the industry towards snack foods and “foods that can be eaten with one hand” and how restaurants (eating out) have become so main stream; from a once-yearly to a thrice-weekly activity!

I tuned out much of the gloom-and-doom and what-ifs and global-impact-scenarios that were all too theoretical to be interesting to me. Sure all these things MIGHT happen, but they might not! I don’t want to underestimate humankind’s ability to overcome these challenges… THAT would be the most depressing thing of all.

Overall it was a great read; full of ‘delicious’ information!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • John
  • Winston Sale, NC, USA
  • 08-11-09

Read Marx First

Roberts' leftist views obscure the informational value of this book.The blah blah blah of corporate greed at the root of all evil begins to grate. While Roberts details how modern agribusiness has been contemporaneous with humans who are larger,longer lived, healthier while alive, and more numerous than can be truly grasped he carefully cultures the Marxist proposition he planted in THE END OF OIL that true human felicity cannot really be achieved through the economic structures of capitalism.

5 of 19 people found this review helpful