Frances Moore Lappe, author of Diet for a Small Planet, born (1944)

Francis Moore Lappe was born on February 10, 1944.  She is most well known for her 1971 book, Diet for a Small Planet, that has sold more than three million copies.  The book argues that malnutrition is not a problem of food scarcity, but of bad food policy.  She contends that a meat diet is bad for people and for the planet—arguing instead for “environmental vegetarianism” that lowers the impact of agriculture on the earth’s soil and water resources and provides more food for more people.

Frances Moore Lappe (photo by Small Planet Institute)

Lappe describes herself as a child of the 1960s social justice advocacy.  She initially worked as a housing inspector in Philadelphia.  The problems she saw there led her to form an organization that worked for fair practices for poor individuals and communities.  Later, as a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, she hit on the idea that by addressing the realities of food—a fundamental problem that always attracted attention—she could get at the underlying issues preventing a fair and prosperous world for all.

The success of Diet for a Small Planet astounded her.  “I had never published anything,” she said, “not even a letter to the editor.  I made a D on my first English paper in college, so I did not think I was material for a major publisher in New York.”  The book’s combination of addressing big-picture policy issues and recipes that any person could make to improve their health and reduce their ecological footprint embodied the idea of “think globally, act locally,” and resonated with a broad population.

A healthy diet is good for a sustainable world (photo by National Cancer Institute)

From there, Lappe went on to publish several other books focused on food, but gradually expanding in scope to address ever larger issues of sustainability and democracy.  She founded several organizations aimed at getting more information to the public about food, nutrition, environment and democracy.  A popular catch-phrase has become:  “Hunger is not caused by scarcity of food but scarcity of democracy.”

Today, Lappe has moved away from her direct efforts to reduce hunger and enhance sustainability to focus her attention completely on advancing democracy.  She takes her 18 honorary doctorates and long list of awards—including the 2013 “Feisty Woman Award” of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom—into that endeavor.

References:

Kelly, Kathy.  2016.  Interview transcript:  France Moore Lappe on why she’s Reinventing Herself.  Bill Moyers & Company, November 11, 2016.  Available at:  http://billmoyers.com/story/diet-democracy-frances-moore-lappe-re-inventing/.  Accessed February 9, 2017.

Small Planet Institute.  Frances Moore Lappe.  Available at:  http://smallplanet.org/about/frances/bio.  Accessed February 9, 2017.

This Month in Conservation

February 1
Afobaka Dam and Operation Gwamba (1964)
February 2
Groundhog Day
February 3
George Adamson, African Lion Rehabilitator, Born (1906)
February 4
Congress Overrides President Reagan’s Veto of Clean Water Act (1987)
February 5
National Wildlife Federation Created (1936)
February 6
Colin Murdoch, Inventor of the Tranquilizer Gun, Born (1929)
February 7
Karl August Mobius, Ecology Pioneer, Born (1825)
February 8
President Johnson Addresses Congress about Conservation (1965)
February 8
Lisa Perez Jackson, Environmental Leader, Born (1982)
February 9
U.S. Fish Commission Created (1871)
February 10
Frances Moore Lappe, author of Diet for a Small Planet, born (1944)
February 11
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
February 12
Judge Boldt Affirms Native American Fishing Rights (1974)
February 13
Thomas Malthus Born (1766)
February 14
Nature’s Faithful Lovers
February 15
Complete Human Genome Published (2001)
February 16
Kyoto Protocol, Controlling Greenhouse-Gas Emissions, Begins (2005)
February 16
Alvaro Uglade, Father of Costa Rica’s National Parks, Born (1946)
February 17
Sombath Somphone, Laotian Environmentalist, Born (1952)
February 17
R. A. Fischer, Statistician, Born (1890)
February 18
Julia Butterfly Hill, Tree-Sitter, Born (1974)
February 18
World Pangolin Day
February 19
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial Established (1962)
February 20
Ansel Adams, Nature Photographer, Born (1902)
February 21
Carolina Parakeet Goes Extinct (1918)
February 22
Nile Day
February 23
Italy’s Largest Inland Oil Spill (2010)
February 24
Joseph Banks, British Botanist, Born (1743)
February 25
First Federal Timber Act Passed (1799)
February 26
Four National Parks Established (1917-1929)
February 27
International Polar Bear Day
February 28
Watson and Crick Discover The Double Helix (1953)
February 29
Nature’s Famous Leapers
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