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.

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.

Frances Moore Lappe (photo by Small Planet Institute)

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.

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

September 1
Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon, Died (1914)
September 2
President Roosevelt Dedicated Great Smoky National Park (1940)
September 3
Wilderness Act passed (1964)
September 4
Fort Bragg, Home of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, Established (1918)
September 5
UNESCO Established First World Heritage Sites (1978)
September 6
Alcide d’Orbigny, French Naturalist, Born (1802)
September 7
Edward Birge, Father of Limnology, born (1851)
September 8
UN Millennium Declaration ratified (2000)
September 9
First “Bug” Found in Computer (1945)
September 10
Henry Hardtner, Father of Southern Forestry, Born (1870)
September 11
World Wildlife Fund Began Operations (1961)
September 12
Canyonlands National Park Established (1964)
September 13
Walter Reed born (1851)
September 14
Marc Reisner, Author of Cadillac Desert (1948)
September 15
Darwin reaches the Galapagos Islands (1835)
September 16
Ed Begley Jr., Environmental Advocate, born (1949)
September 17
Edgar Wayburn, Wilderness Advocate, Born (1906)
September 18
Grey Owl, Pioneering Conservationist in Canada, Born (1888)
September 19
Urmas Tartes, Estonian Nature Photographer, born (1963)
September 20
AAAS Founded (1848)
September 21
Assateague Island National Seashore Created (1965)
September 22
Peace Corps becomes law (1961)
September 23
Rose Selected as U.S. National Flower (1986)
September 24
President Kennedy Dedicated Pinchot Institute (1963)
September 25
Pope Francis Addressed the UN on the Environment (2015)
September 26
Johnny Appleseed Born (1774)
September 27
“Silent Spring” Published (1962)
September 28
National Public Lands Day
September 29
Steinhart Aquarium opens (1923)
September 30
Hoover Dam Dedicated (1935)
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