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Food economics: a reading list

Agriculture is a means of living for a large percentage of the world’s population. Agricultural economics looks at the utilization and distribution of farming resources and aims to apply the principles of economic theory to farming and the production and allocation of food in order to optimize such processes. This month the annual conference of the Agricultural Economics Society is taking place, and to raise further awareness of this significant field of economics, we have created a reading list of books, journals, and free online resources that explore the varied areas of food and agricultural economics, and how they affect different areas of our lives.


The Economics of Chocolate edited by Mara P. Squicciarini and Johan Swinnen
This book, written by global experts, provides a comprehensive and topical analysis on the economics of chocolate. While the main approach is economic analysis, there are important contributions from other disciplines, including psychology, history, government, nutrition, and geography. Read chapter 1.

The Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Food Consumption and Policy edited by Jayson L. Lusk, Juttta Roosen, and Jason Shogren
Historically, the challenge for humans has been to secure a sufficient supply of food to stave off hunger and starvation. As a result, much of the research on food and agriculture in the past century has focused on issues related to production efficiency, food supply, and farm profitability. In recent years, however, the attention has turned away from the farm and toward the food consumer and to issues related to food consumption. This handbook provides an overview of the economics of food consumption and policy. Read a free chapter.


Oil for Food: The Global Food Crisis and the Middle East by Eckart Woertz
Oil for Food draws on extensive sources and interviews to tell the story of how Arab Gulf countries reacted to the 2008 global food crisis. It argues against the hype created around so called ‘land grabs’ and analyses the geopolitical implications behind the investment drive of Arab Gulf countries in food insecure countries like Sudan or Pakistan. Read chapter 2.

The Evolving Sphere of Food Security by Rosamond L. Naylor
How do the policies used to promote food security in one country affect nutrition, food access, natural resources, and national security in other countries? How do the priorities and challenges of achieving food security change over time as countries develop economically? The author seeks to answer these two important questions and others by exploring the interconnections of food security to security of many kinds: energy, water, health, climate, the environment, and national security.


Agriculture: A Very Short Introduction by Paul Brassley and Richard Soffe
Agriculture, one of the oldest human occupations, is practised all over the world, using techniques ranging from the profoundly traditional to the most scientifically advanced. Without it we would starve. In this Very Short Introduction Paul Brassley and Richard Soffe explain what farmers do and why they do it.

Agricultural and Food Controversies, What Everyone Needs to Know by F. Bailey Norwood, Michelle S. Calvo-Lorenzo, Sarah Lancaster, and Pascal A. Oltenacu
In this book agricultural researchers present both sides of heavily debated agricultural and food issues. They answer questions and explain scholarly and scientific research on topics such as organic food, the safety of pesticides, livestock living conditions, the use of antibiotics in livestock intended for consumption, the effect of agriculture on the environment, and more.


The Fight Against Hunger and MalnutritionThe Role of Food, Agriculture, and Targeted Policies by David E. Sahn
This book details strategies and practical approaches designed to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in a new era where technological change, markets, patterns of governance, and social programs have an increasingly global dimension. Read chapter 8.

American Journal of Agricultural Economics
The American Journal of Agricultural Economics provides a forum for creative and scholarly work on the economics of agriculture and food, natural resources and the environment, as well as development economics.

9780198732396Food Price Dynamics and Price Adjustment in the EU by Steve McCorriston
This book addresses the important issue of food prices across EU Member States. Although recent attention has focused on events in world commodity markets following the spikes in world prices in 2007-2008 and 2011, there has been comparatively little attention addressing food price dynamics at the retail level. This volume addresses the characteristics of retail food price behaviour and the nature and drivers of price transmission across the EU. Read chapter 2.

European Review of Agricultural Economics
The European Review of Agricultural Economics is now firmly established as the pre-eminent forum for the discussion and dissemination of theoretical and applied agricultural economics research in Europe, with a readership that extends worldwide, covering topics including genetically modified food, corporate social responsibility, and behavioural economics.


The Oxford Handbook of Food, Politics, and Society edited by Ronald J. Herring
Politics decides who gets what and how. At the most elemental level, food has, for most of our history, been intensely political: who gets to eat what, how often, and through what means of acquisition or entitlement? The Oxford Handbook of Food, Politics, and Society confronts the issue of food in politics through three major dimensions: ecology, technology and property. Read a free chapter.

Featured image credit: Agriculture by StateofIsrael. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.

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