No government is legitimate unless it can ensure healthy, affordable food for all its citizens. And many governments around the world have faced or are facing a food crisis. Sometimes, it goes even further, when this seemingly specific crisis reveals much broader issues. In such cases, without any excessive pun intended, we are faced with a crisis of regime.

This is certainly the case today.

Apparently, it’s a purely cyclical crisis, because the price of energy paid by farmers has to be brought into line with what others pay, and because the price of wheat in Europe has halved in two years. In reality, it’s a much deeper crisis, for countless reasons: an ageing farming world; increasingly varied skills requirements (administrative, ecological, chemical, mechanical) that are far removed from the trade itself; growing pressure from processing and distribution players on farmers, making them bear the brunt of the competition they themselves face. In France, the suicide rate is 40% higher than the national average. And it’s even worse in some countries, such as India.

In addition, there are four major dimensions, all too often unnoticed, which need to be addressed if we are to find a lasting solution to the problem:

Firstly, the proportion of household budgets devoted to food is falling year on year, in all countries, with a few rare exceptions. At the same time, the share devoted to housing, transport, health and, above all, entertainment and culture is increasing considerably: the money invested in buying video games (or, for some, other drugs) cannot be spent on fresh vegetables…

Secondly, we are eating less and less directly from agricultural produce: because we are eating more and more outside the home (in some countries, we have just passed the 50% mark for food consumed and manufactured outside the home), and therefore more and more processed products, major users of poisons called “artificial sugars”, in which agricultural produce plays a lesser role, and which, moreover, are largely responsible for obesity, the evil of the century, in rich and poor countries alike.

Secondly, despite improvements in production techniques, food production still requires a considerable amount of energy, whether for the use of agricultural machinery, the manufacture of pesticides, irrigation, food processing, refrigeration, cooking, food packaging, or the transport of foodstuffs over long distances, whether by truck, boat or plane. So, despite the declining share of the budget devoted to food, the energy used to produce and distribute food remains high.

Finally, because 40% of the agricultural products we produce are not consumed, due to a lack of storage facilities and local development, and to a lack of responsibility at all levels. Prices reflect this waste, the cost of which is shared between the farmer and the final consumer.

All in all, the producers of the means to feed themselves can no longer make a living, while their natural customers can no longer afford to buy their produce, and have to eat products that poison them. What we have here is a crisis of regimes.


Beyond the emergency measures that need to be taken, nothing sustainable can be achieved without a radical change in lifestyle, in all countries, and particularly in France. We need to devote a much larger share of our personal and national budgets to food and, above all, to agriculture; consume more natural, seasonal, local produce, grown without pesticides; eat less and less, if at all, processed products, especially those using artificial sugars; and fight relentlessly against waste. This would mean a profound change in our diet, and in the way we use our time.

Image : Pexels.