Author and activist Raj Patel, who spoke in Austin at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in 2009, is one of the most insightful critics of how capitalism distorts the world food system. In this new interview in Truthout, he explains:

So it’s absolutely the case that we’re able to feed everyone if we wanted to, but the systems that we have set up are inimical to feeding people when we distribute food through capitalism. And it’s hard for us, I think, to imagine a world without capitalism. There’s some debate over who quite coined this line, but it’s easier for us to imagine the end of the world than it is for us to imagine the end of capitalism. And what we need to do, I think, is imagine ourselves into a world where we can redistribute food without resorting to market mechanisms.

Though that’s not necessarily always going to be the case:

But, you know, to get to the question of, “Is there enough food in the world?” Yes, there is. Will there be enough food in the future? Well, this is an interesting point. I mean, I think right now we are running out at the limits of what industrial agriculture can squeeze out of the ground. We are in a situation where climate change is already adversely affecting harvests. A range of projections have suggested that several billion dollars worth of grains have been lost already as a result of climate change. And that’s something that’s projected to get worse in the future. It’s certainly true that we are heading towards a world of nine billion people. Now we have enough food to feed nine billion people if nine billion people weren’t eating a Western diet.

An edited video of the interview is online at YouTube.

Patel, the author of Stuffed and Starved (just out in a revised edition) and The Value of Nothing, is working on a new film, “Generation Food,” with “Hoop Dreams” director Steve James. They are raising money to complete the film on indiegogo.