The University of Arizona

On the destructive production of food: some lessons from South America

Gastón Gordillo


Abstract This essay offers some general reflections on the destructive dimensions of corporatized forms of food production in contemporary South America. The dialectic of production and destruction that has long defined capitalism has too often been figured as "creative destruction", a phrase that can make the negative social and environmental impact of food commodity production seem to be something acceptable and even positive. The authors who contributed to this Special Section on Production/destruction in Latin America reveal, in contrast, that destruction has been integral to industrial or large-scale forms of food production in different parts of the continent. These articles remind us that the creation of a less destructive, more egalitarian world requires (among other things) not only the creation of renewable forms of energy but also a radical rethinking of the ways in which food is produced, distributed, and consumed. And the experience of South America in the past decade teaches us about the political limits of more progressive models of accumulation that, for all their merits, did not dare to delink the production of food from the short-sighted nature of corporate models that prioritize profits and hyper-productivity over social justice and sustainability. Key words: Creative destruction; destructive production; ruination; rubble; food; commodities

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