There's a pretty good article in last week's Time about some of the stuff I care about most in the world: Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food. Although it simplifies a lot of the issues, as it has to do, to describe the whole picture in five pages, it captures much of what is so terrifying and soul-less about the state of America's industrial food system today, and also a little bit about what is hopeful in the current interest in alternative, sustainable methods of food production (even if it is small and limited to certain strata of society, for now). As the article writes, "Not all costs can be measured by a price tag. Once you factor in crop subsidies, ecological damage and what we pay in health-care bills after our fatty, sugary diet makes us sick, conventionally produced food looks a lot pricier." This is a key point to remember when we go to the grocery store, I think. We must be able to look beyond the price tag to see everything that lies beneath what we hand over to the cashier.
Also, in the article, there's a link to a photo essay based on this book called Hungry Planet, which shows photos of what families all over the world eat in one week's time. If you haven't seen these photos yet, they're really worth a look. Here's a small sampling, along with the cost, in US dollars spent on food in a typical week (click on the images to see larger versions):