Here’s another book to add to my list: The Coming Famine, by Julian Cribb. Mark Bittman reviewed it for the NY Times today. Basically, Cribb contends that we’ve reached peak food production (along with peak oil), and warns that our food system could collapse without major changes. From the review (emphasis mine):
He proposes subsidizing small farms for their stewardship of the earth, and paying them fairer prices for production; taxing food to reflect its true costs to the environment; regulating practices that counter sustainability and rewarding those that promote it; and educating the public about the true costs of food. “An entire year of primary schooling” should be devoted to the importance of growing and eating food, he suggests.
Update, 8/26/2010: Apparently this topic is really gaining steam. Here’s a review of another book about essentially the same thing. Empires of Food by Evan D.G. Fraser looks at the food systems of empires that failed, such as the Roman empire, and draws parallels with today. So much reading to do…
Update, 8/27/2010: Gaining steam, speeding up: The Atlantic Monthly’s round-up of stories related to this topic.