October is the peak of fall in the Midwest, as well as harvest season across the heartland. But where does all of the harvested corn and soybeans go? We’re hoping that October’s selection, Out of the Shadows: The New Merchants of Grain by Jonathan Kingsman, provides some insight. Here’s a quick summary of the book:
In 1979, Dan Morgan, a journalist with the Washington Post, wrote Merchants of Grain, a definitive history of the international grain trade. In the 40 years since Dan’s book was published the grain markets have changed almost beyond recognition. So too have the merchants of grain. Once shadowy figures, grain merchants have now come out of the shadows. Almost everything that you eat or drink today will contain something bought, stored, transported, processed, shipped, distributed or sold by one of the seven giants of the agricultural supply chain. The media often refers to them as the ABCD group of international grain-trading companies, with ABCD standing for ADM, Bunge, Cargill and Dreyfus. The acronym, though, ignores the other three giants of the food supply: Glencore, COFCO International and Wilmar. Together, they handle 50 percent of the international trade in grain and oilseeds. In this book’s series of exclusive and unprecedented interviews, CEOs and senior traders from these seven giants describe in their own words how the agricultural markets are changing, and how they are adapting to those changes. Accompanying text explains how grain trading works, what grain traders do, and the journey that your food takes before arriving on your plate. This is the inside story of the grain market and of the seven companies at the center of the world’s food supply.
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Here’s what you need to do this month:
Get the book. Buy it, borrow it, download and listen to it, read it over your neighbor’s shoulder — we don’t care. But don’t steal the book.
Read the book.
- Week 1: Introduction, chapters 1-4 [pages 8 – 75] (Twitter chat on 10/6)
- Week 2: Chapters 5-8 [pages 76 – 134] (Twitter chat on 10/13)
- Week 3: Chapters 9-12 [pages 135 – 178] (Twitter chat on 10/20)
- Week 4: Chapters 13-16 [pages 179 – 240] (Twitter chat on 10/27)
Join the chat (#AgBookClub) on Wednesdays at 8:00pm Central on Twitter. Learn how to participate in a Twitter chat here. While we hope you can participate in our discussion every week, we know that everyone has busy schedules. We always include general questions following the topic(s) of the book that can be answered by anyone, so please don’t hesitate to jump in the Twitter chat if you didn’t have a chance to read the section we’re discussing. We welcome any and all to join the discussion!