Meet Raj Patel, 'Rock Star of Social Justice Writing'

His new book, 'Inflamed,' illuminates the connection between our health and the injustices of our political and economic systems

“For me, my political evolution began when I was five, when I was in India seeing hunger and losing my shit. I screamed and cried. There was a girl begging outside the window of the car that we were in. And I lost my mind. I was so angry and upset and disappointed in everything that allowed that girl to be outside and us to be inside. And I went back to England and rented my toys out so we could send money for famine relief.”

My guest on this week’s episode of Food with Mark Bittman is Raj Patel, one of the true leaders of the food and social justice movements; he’s someone all of us involved in food justice turn to with questions — or just for a good talk.

Raj grew up in London, has degrees from Oxford, the London School of Economics, and Cornell; he has worked at the World Bank, the United Nations, and the World Trade Organization. Despite all that, he has brilliant politics, he fought in early globalization struggles, and he writes and speaks about and for the right side of not only food issues but economic, climate, and justice issues. (Also, there was a period where a bunch of lunatics literally believed that Raj was the Messiah, which he has steadfastly denied.)

He is currently the Research Professor at the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He has written seven books, including the now almost 10-year-old seminal Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System. His newest book, Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice, written with Rupa Marya, is out this week.

Of note: This is the last episode of the first season of the podcast, and I’m happy to say we’ll be back in September with a really cool lineup. In the meantime, please listen, subscribe, and review! And remember to call us on 833-FOODPOD (833-366-3763) with all your food-related questions. The recipes featured in this week’s episode are below.

Thank you, as always. — Mark

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Summertime Shrimp Salad

Toss shelled shrimp in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and grill or broil until cooked through. Zest and juice a lemon and combine with olive oil, chopped cilantro, salt, and pepper. Add diced red onion, chopped cucumber, and chunks of ripe peaches, plums, or melon. Serve the shrimp on top or chop it up a bit and mix it right in the salad.

— Recipe from Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express


Chilled Cucumber and Dill Soup

Peel and seed three cucumbers. Chop them up and put in a blender with two cups of buttermilk, a half cup of sour cream, a tablespoon of olive oil, a couple of tablespoons of freshly chopped dill, a pinch of sugar, salt, and a splash of white wine vinegar. Puree and garnish with fresh dill. Serve with crusty bread.

— Recipe from Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express