Food or fuel. Does there have to be a trade-off? Not long ago, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food called the conversion of food-grains to fuel a "crime against humanity," but GRITtv’s panelists lay out a much more complicated picture.

It’s not just the biofuels, it’s agribusiness and trade policy, not to mention market speculations that are to blame. Besides, we must be very careful about our language, says Anna Lappe: "it’s not a food crisis, it’s a food price crisis." The planet grows plenty of food, it’s the purchase price that’s threatening three billion people — three billion– with malnutrition if current trends keep up.

Joel Berg, a former food security expert at the USDA, now heads up the New York City Coalition Against Hunger. Not long ago he lived for a week on food stamps and found just how far the check would take him. Not far. He could only buy the mealy apples (not the organics,) and only the cheapest eggs. This year, he tells GRITtv, he repriced the goods in the imaginary food stamp basket. He wouldn’t be able to afford any eggs at all.

The discussion here is rich. It’s amazing what can happen when the conversation’s not underwritten by Archer Daniels Midland, the ubiquitous agri-business media sponsor. No one trigger that has caused the food crisis, but there are concrete steps governments could take to solve the problem, says Yifat Susskind of MADRE With several sister organizations, MADRE wrote a proposal to the leaders of the G8 countries, to support "real solutions" to the situation that threatens to destablize dozens of countries. But sustainable agriculture requires sustainable economic policies, said Susskind. For more on the MADRE plan go to MADRE.org.

Also in Thursday’s program, a conversation with former Newsday Middle East Bureau Chief Mohamed Bazzi about who’s responding to what in the brewing conflict with Iran. The American News Project pulls back the curtain on the campaign contributions behind the Senators who supported FISA. The filmmakers of Native Lens describe what happens when they put cameras in young men’s hands on the Swinomish reservation in Washington State.

And GRITtv’s documentary-in-progress this week is Crazy Wisdom, a portrait of the "bad boy of buddhism" Chogyam Trungpa.

Enlightenment is anything but boring, if Trungpa’s any indication. And it’s fun. Trungpa laughs even as he challenges us to consider the sources of our deepest pains: grasping for ownership, permanence and power.

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders, author, and host of RadioNation on Air America Radio, has built a reputation for courageous investigative journalism coupled with compassion and a sense of humor. In writing her last book, Blue Grit, she traveled the country reporting on grassroots success stories and broadcast live to over 150 radio stations from community centers in places including Helena, Salt Lake City, New Orleans, Miami, Las Vegas, and Milwaukee. In her television appearances (Lou Dobbs, Larry King Live,) on radio and in her many books (including Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species) and articles (The Nation and others,) Flanders calls for a new politics of fairness, equality and citizen action. Articulating the human dimension of American communities in trouble, her programs have become destinations for those seeking the skills and the will to make a difference. Flanders is a regular contributor to the Nation Magazine and CNN. Before joining Air America, where she was part of the original lineup, and hosted “The Laura Flanders Show” for three years, Flanders was the founding host of the award-winning “Your Call” weekday mornings on public radio, KALW in the Bay Area and CounterSpin, the radio show of the mediawatch group, FAIR.