Sunday, February 24, 2013

Aya Hirata Kimura's "Hidden Hunger"

Aya Hirata Kimura is Assistant Professor of Women's Studies at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Hidden Hunger: Gender and the Politics of Smarter Foods, and reported the following:
Hidden Hunger examines the rise of fortified (vitamin/mineral-added) food as the face of anti-hunger projects in the developing countries since the 1990s. As a sociologist and gender scholar, I was interested in social and historical forces that pushed for such shifts in the prevailing understanding of the “global food problem” from the lack of food (quantity) to the lack of nutritious food (quality), and from hunger to “hidden” hunger (micronutrient deficiencies). This changing understanding of the food problem also shaped the “solutions” in the form of bio/fortification.

You have probably heard of Golden Rice, a genetically modified rice that is supposed to combat Vitamin A deficiency- an example of biofortification. But have you heard about fortified yoghurt by Grameen Bank, a well-known pioneer in microfinance, and a major multinational food producer, Dannon? The book tries to make sense of these things together as a part of the global fascination with hidden hunger under neoliberalism, the privatized notion of food security, and gendered practices of nutrition projects.

Page 99 is in the middle of chapter 5 entitled “building a healthy Indonesia with flour, MSG, and instant noodles” and talks about efforts to combat hidden hunger with fortified MSG (monosodium glutamate) and instant noodles in Indonesia. They did not become a public policy due to industry opposition, but these cases are exemplary of experts’ fascination with what I call charismatic nutrients and nutritional fixes. Why were MSG and instant noodles able to garner expert support as an essential part of citizens’ diet? These projects, along with fortified baby food, fortified wheat flour and Golden Rice that I examine in the book, illuminate what has become obfuscated in a highly reductionist view of the global food problem.
Learn more about Hidden Hunger at the Cornell University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue