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Raj Patel- The Value Of Nothing

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Calling For New, Undistorted Values

This video is a promo for the book "The Value Of Nothing" (2010) by scholar, activist, writer Raj Patel, also the author of Stuffed and Starved (2008).

The title is based on the Oscar Wilde quote: "Nowadays, people know the price of everything and the value of nothing."

Patel applies this concept to our contemporary consumer society, and the distortion in our perception of what has value. A polluting factory making useless goods is valued at millions, while the same acreage of pristine land is valued at almost nothing.

One of Patel's main points: there are hidden costs and gross consequences to the cheap food we have become used to.

For starters, the environmental costs of cheap food are hidden from the consumer. Think of the chronic high levels of toxins released into the ground water on factory farms. The health costs of eating cheap food are postponed: 1 in 5 health care dollars in the US goes towards diabetes care. What about the human cost of workers in near slavery conditions growing our cheap, pesticide laden produce in Florida?

Simply put: It's crucial for us to have a new way of valuing things other than the market. Patel is optimistic, and sees the shift taking place and expressing itself in different social and environmental movements all across the world.

-Bibi Farber