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Raj Patel      

Award-Winning Writer, Activist & Academic

Raj Patel is an award-winning writer, activist and academic. He is a Research Professor in the Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin and a Senior Research Associate at the Unit for the Humanities at the university currently known as Rhodes University (UHURU), South Africa.

He has degrees from the University of Oxford, the London School of Economics and Cornell University, has worked for the World Bank and WTO, and protested against them around the world. Raj co-taught the 2014 Edible Education class at UC Berkeley with Michael Pollan. In 2016 he was recognized with a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award. He has testified about the causes of the global food crisis to the US House Financial Services Committee and is a member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems.

In addition to numerous scholarly publications in economics, philosophy, politics and public health journals, he regularly writes for The Guardian, and has contributed to the Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Times of India, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Mail on Sunday, and The Observer. His first book was Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System. His second, The Value of Nothing, was a New York Times and international best-seller. His latest, co-written with Jason W. Moore, is A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things.

He can be heard co-hosting the fortnightly food politics podcast The Secret Ingredient with Mother Jones’ Tom Philpott, and KUT’s Rebecca McInroy. He is currently working on a ground-breaking documentary project about the global food system with award-winning director Steve James.

Speech Topics


The Value of Nothing: Markets & Democracy in a Time of Crisis

The current economic, ecological, and food crises reveal how a handful of people have made some very bad choices. Fund managers profited from building a financial house of cards, leaving the public to pay the price of their mistakes for the next 30 years.

To draw attention to how free-market fundamentalism has distorted the way we value our world, Patel claims that the true price of a hamburger is $200 when one factors in hidden environmental and health costs. There is something broken at the heart of the price system, and there has been for years – even the earliest economists and philosophers understood the need for limits to unfettered capitalism and the animal spirits of the market.

In order to end our blind compliance with the ideology of the free market and the empire of prices, Patel asks us to reconsider how we might use democracy to reclaim markets so that they work for, rather than against, social change. In this highly engaging and inspiring call for action, Patel shows how social movements in America and around the world have managed to limit the free market by exercising democratic rights.

How Will We Feed 10 Billion People Sustainably?

We're already doing a bad job of feeding 7 billion people: about a billion aren't getting enough to eat. What will we do by century's end, when we’re predicted to have 10 billion people, much less water and fossil fuel, and climate change will have made itself felt? The good news: there are groups around the world coming up with surprising and profound ways to feed us all.

Stuffed & Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System

Today there are 1 billion people starving and 1.5 billion overweight. The US is the most overweight country on Earth, and has 48 million people who are "food insecure." How did this come about, and what can be done to stop it? Presenting some of the findings from his recently updated book, Raj Patel tells stories from around the world food system.

Food Rebellions: The History & Future of Food Protests

The Arab Spring began with a hike in the price of wheat. The French Revolution with a bread riot. The American Revolution with a protest over tea. In the US, the 19th amendment came about because women took to the streets demanding cheaper food. What's the origin of these protests, and what will become of them?

What's Stopping Us from Becoming Food Sovereign?

Promised Land: Competing Visions of Agrarian Reform

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