The Reproach of Hunger

The Reproach of Hunger:Food, Justice and Money in the 21st Century

  • Hardback

Why have we failed so badly to address the crisis of hunger in the 21st century?

In 2000 the world’s leaders and experts agreed that the eradication of hunger was the essential task for the new millennium. Yet in the last decade the price of wheat, soya and rice have spiraled, seen by many as the cause of widening poverty gap and political unrest from the Arab Spring to Latin America. This food crisis has condemned the bottom billion of the world’s population who live on less than $1 a day to a state of constant hunger.
In The Reproach of Hunger leading expert on humanitarian aid and development, David Rieff, goes in search of the causes of this food security crisis, as well as the failures to respond to the disaster. In addition to the failures to address climate change, poor governance and misguided optimism, Rieff cautions against the increased privatization of aid, with such organization as the Gates Foundation spending more that the WHO on food relief. The invention of the celebrity campaigner – from Bono to Jeffrey Sachs – whose business-led solutions have robbed development of its political urgency. The hope that the crisis of food scarcity of food production can be solved by a technological innovation. In response Rieff demands that we rethink the fundamental causes of the world’s grotesque inequalities and see the issue as a political challenge we are all failing to confront.


  • As refugee crises fill the news, David Rieff reminds that hunger is a war not won. Rieff, a veteran thinker on development issues, spent six years researching the nexus of population, food commodification and persistent poverty for this critical analysis. Scathing about the alarmist or over-optimistic pronouncements of development officials, agribusiness multinationals and philanthropic nabobs, he notes that any issue involving billions of humans cannot be neatly engineered. Thoughtful, trenchant and bracingly sceptical.

  • Rejecting equally utopian humanitarianism and neoconservative ideology, Rieff’s collection of essays provides a compelling analysis of when military intervention is necessary and when it is doomed to fail.

    George Soros
  • Hunger, [Rieff] writes, is a political problem, and fighting it means rejecting the fashionable consensus that only the private sector can act efficiently.

    New Yorker