It is hard not to consider the topic food commodities without thinking of Trading Places (see clip below), which Kara Newman references in her new book The Secret Financial Life of Food: From Commodities Markets to Supermarkets.
In The Secret Financial Life of Food, Newman centers her history on corn and its transformation into a ubiquitous commodity, and she uses oats, wheat, and rye to recast America’s westward expansion and the Industrial Revolution. She discusses the effects of such mega-corporations as Starbucks and McDonalds on futures markets, and she considers burgeoning markets, particularly “super soybeans,” which could scramble the landscape of food finance. She argues that the ingredients of American power and culture, and the making of the modern world, can be found in the history of food commodities exchange.
Meanwhile, in the following clip, Randolph and Mortimer Duke (played by Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy) explain to Billy Ray Valentine (played by Eddie Murphy) how their commodity brokerage works. While the nuances and history are better described in Newman’s work, starting with this clip provides the perfect entree to The Secret Financial Life of Food (and how often can we relate one of our books to an Eddie Murphy movie?)