VATICAN - Pope at FAO: food is not a commodity subject to speculation, the hungry "ask for dignity, not for charity" [AN]


The “challenge” of solidarity and the “paradox of plenty”: “there is food for everyone, but not everyone can eat”. "The the struggle against hunger and malnutrition is hindered by “market priorities”, and the “primacy of profit”. The “moral obligation to share the economic wealth of the world.” “A source of inspiration is natural law, inscribed in the human heart, that speaks a language that everyone can understand: love, justice, peace, elements that are inseparable from each other”



This is all in translation, of course, so I can’t be totally sure what the Pope said.

But when was food not a commodity? When was it not exchanged in the marketplace? All in the world a “commodity” is, is a bulk product composed of many identical and generally interchangeable units. We speak of “commodity chips” in the computer industry because they are sold as a bulk product composed of many identical units.

It has nothing to do with value or lack of it. Gold is a commodity and is very expensive. Oil is a commodity and is cheap.

Surely the Pope does not intend to say that food should not be bought and sold. If it was not, nobody would grow it beyond subsistence for his own family.

And in a free market, (which not all are) can we really be sure there’s something bad about it? After all, for every speculative gainer there is an opposite speculative loser on the commodity exchanges.

Possibly the Pope meant to communicate that markets alone cannot ensure nutrition to all, and that would be true. Something additional is needed. But without markets, the great mass of mankind would not get adequate nutrition.


My reading was one that can be applied to my home.
There is nothing wrong in buying my groceries,nor anything wrong in selling them to me. What he is asking is that I do not see food as a " thing" that I buy,or sell or store or discard at pleasure. Do we need this much? And so on. And when doing so,see food as food from the perspective of those who need it to survive and not as a " thing" that "belongs " to me or my family. He is asking for a more humane vision of the use/ trade/ consumption of food. I do not think it is about cheap or expensive only,but about need.That is what I understood,and of course,I may be wrong.


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