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Raj Patel      

Award-Winning Writer, Food Politics Activist, Filmmaker & Academic

Raj Patel is an award-winning author, film-maker and academic. He is a Research Professor in the Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin.

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. He has testified about the causes of the global food crisis to the US, UK and EU governments and is a member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems. In 2016 he was recognized with a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award.

In addition to scholarly publications in economics, philosophy, politics and public health journals, he regularly writes for The Guardian, and has contributed to a range of publications, from the Financial Times, to the New York Times, The Mail on Sunday, The Observer and the Scientific American.

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. He is the co-author with Jason W. Moore of "A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things." His acclaimed latest book, co-authored with Rupa Marya, is entitled "Inflamed: Deep Medicine and The Anatomy of Injustice."

His first film, co-directed with Zak Piper and filmed over the course of a decade in Malawi and the United States, is the award-winning documentary "The Ants & The Grasshopper." He was a co-host of the food politics podcast "The Secret Ingredient" with Mother Jones’ Tom Philpott, and KUT’s Rebecca McInroy.

Speech Topics


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. This talk can complement Raj Patel's award-winning film The Ants & The Grasshopper

The opposite of an Inflammatory Diet

With medicine recognizing that our bodies are inflamed in no small part because of what we eat, it's tempting to think that we can solve our problems simply by putting different things into our bodies. Using the latest medical and social science, this talk offers a journey through our guts, brains and relationships with the world around us to help us understand the root causes of inflammation, so that we can better understand what we need to do to find deep medicine to treat it.

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.

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?

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