Frances Moore Lappé on the Food Movement

by Catherine Haug, September 25, 2011

Does the name Frances Moore Lappé sound familiar to you? If you came of age in the ’60s or ’70s, it should be a familiar name because she is the author of Diet for a Small Planet, published in 1971. Like most Americans, prior to this book, I was seduced by the possibility of sustaining life by science. I looked forward to the day when all we would have to do to keep our bodies humming, is take a daily nutritional pill. No consideration was given to the environmental and health costs of such a plan.

And then came her book. Wow!

Now she has written a powerful essay on the growing local food movement to counter the food-through-science culture epitomized by Monsanto. The following is from her essay, The Food Movement: Its Power and Possibilities, published in 9/14/11 issue of The Nation.

The Food Movement: It’s Power and Possibilities, by Frances Moore Lappé

For years I’ve been asked, “Since you wrote Diet for a Small Planet in 1971, have things gotten better or worse?” Hoping I don’t sound glib, my response is always the same: “Both.”

As food growers, sellers and eaters, we’re moving in two directions at once.

The number of hungry people has soared to nearly 1 billion, despite strong global harvests. And for even more people, sustenance has become a health hazard-with the US diet implicated in four out of our top ten deadly diseases. Power over soil, seeds and food sales is ever more tightly held, and farmland in the global South is being snatched away from indigenous people by speculators set to profit on climbing food prices. Just four companies control at least three-quarters of international grain trade; and in the United States, by 2000, just ten corporations-with boards totaling only 138 people-had come to account for half of US food and beverage sales. Conditions for American farmworkers remain so horrific that seven Florida growers have been convicted of slavery involving more than 1,000 workers. Life expectancy of US farmworkers is forty-nine years.
That’s one current. It’s antidemocratic and deadly.

There is, however, another current, which is democratizing power and aligning farming with nature’s genius. Many call it simply “the global food movement.” In the United States it’s building on the courage of truth tellers from Upton Sinclair to Rachel Carson, and worldwide it has been gaining energy and breadth for at least four decades.

Some Americans see the food movement as “nice” but peripheral-a middle-class preoccupation with farmers’ markets, community gardens and healthy school lunches. But no, I’ll argue here. It is at heart revolutionary, with some of the world’s poorest people in the lead, from Florida farmworkers to Indian villagers. It has the potential to transform not just the way we eat but the way we understand our world, including ourselves. And that vast power is just beginning to erupt.

To read the full article, see The Nation: The Food Movement: Its Power and Possibilities


Comments are closed.