November 27, 2019

Thanksgiving Staff Pick: Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel


Every year I’m surprised by the dread and despair that Thanksgiving induces in so many of my friends. They’re not without good reason! Thanksgiving is, of course, fraught with colonialist feeling and history. Many people feel pressured into performative love and fellow-feeling with family that they, as the saying goes, didn’t pick, and in many cases disagree with. The holiday also has strange ties to one of the country’s most scandalous special interest groups: the turkey lobby. It can be a real pain to travel around the holiday, even if the trouble has inspired at least one good movie. And lastly, Thanksgiving is the first bold step into the crassly commercial (and potentially lethal) holiday shopping season.

Lucky for you, Melville House is here to save you gas, and the risk of navigating your local megamall’s parking lot. Our Black Friday sale is live right now, and all books, in all formats, are 30% off!

This year I’m bringing home Raj Patel’s Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System.

I’m one of the lucky few: I enjoy Thanksgiving. I like seeing my family, I believe The National Dog Show is an unimprovable entertainment, and the prospect of filling my first plate on Thursday fills me with joy. These things, especially the last, shouldn’t be taken for granted. I think the best aspect of Thanksgiving, even if it is tainted by the phony imagery of pilgrims and Indians supping together, is the way it inspires gratitude and reflection.

Patel’s book is a stirring reflection on and investigation into the failures of the global food economy. How to Cook Everything mastermind Mark Bittman puts it well in the New York Times:

“Compelling. At first glance, Raj is another depressing voice in the chorus. But in traveling the world researching the book, he also found hope in international social movements working to create more democratic, sustainable, and joyful food systems.”

Michael Pollan adds,

“For anyone attempting to make sense of the world food crisis, or understand the links between U.S. farm policy and the ability of the world’s poor to feed themselves, Stuffed and Starved is indispensable.”

Read Patel’s astonishing book now, and keep an eye out for Hunger next year. And to whatever extent you can: have a peaceful, restful, grateful Thanksgiving holiday.



John Francisconi is the Direct Sales and Operations Manager at Melville House.