You may have read one of his groundbreaking books, Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System or bestseller The Value of Nothing. You may know him instead from one of his many articles in publications like The Guardian, New York Times, and The Financial Times. You may have seen one of his public lectures, or listened to his fortnightly podcast The Secret Ingredient. You may have even been lucky enough to have been one of his students at UC Berkeley or University of Texas, Austin. You might even consider him a god. Whatever the case, Raj Patel’s life and career have taken him from his beginnings in North London, around the world and cemented his position as one of the foremost activists and thinkers on food systems and the global food crisis.
His involvement with the Via Campesina and Abahlali baseMjondolo movements means that Patel’s democratic and anti-capitalist credentials need no bolstering. As a fervent opponent of the world’s current food system and the oppression of women and people of color that it both reinforces and benefits from, Patel has long advocated for a complete overhaul of our attitude towards food, and its value, starting from the very fabric of our predominantly patriarchal society. As fascism rears its ugly head once more, as sea levels rise, and slavery around the world balloons, our food production must take a different path.
Sitting in the University of Gastronomic Sciences’ canteen as he waited to give a talk to the UNISG students, Raj Patel was kind enough to spend some time talking with us, sharing his thoughts on the challenges that we face today, the importance of gastronomy and education in changing the status quo, and the movements that are leading the way towards real, positive change.