Food crisis

A student prepares a barbecue protest against the rise in bus fares (Getty)

Protests in Brazil are running in to their fifth night, a sign that Brazil’s previously polite manner of protesting has done little to bring about change.

After more than three centuries of colonial rule followed by intermittent dictatorships, confrontation isn’t the preferred style of protest for Brazilians. Samantha Pearson, the FT’s São Paulo correspondent, spoke to so-called BBQ activists - people who organise public barbecues to protest anything from police aggression to homophobia.

The idea of protesting via the medium of a grilled sausage may seem rather unusual, but food and social activism have a long history together. 

Alan Beattie

A farmer irrigates his Indiana cornfield in July 2012, amid one of the worst droughts in five decades (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The farm bill, which sets US agricultural subsidies for five years at a time and is up for renewal this year, isn’t normally a party-line issue. Lawmakers from rural areas and particularly senators from agrarian states unite across party lines to fleece the taxpayer. Urban congressmen are bought off with food stamps for their poorer voters – now given the ironically unsnappy name of Snap, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – which actually makes up more than three-quarters of total spending under the bill.

It might be a sordid trade-off, but it generally produces consensus. Not so this year: while a bipartisan bill easily passed the House of Representatives agriculture committee (dominated by rural types), Republican leader John Boehner dared not put it to a vote of the full House, or even pass a one-year extension of the current programmes. 

Here’s what we’ve been chatting about today: