Frances Moore Lappé to speak at virtual event co-hosted by Harris Center and Monadnock Food Co-op


Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 04-24-2023 11:41 AM

Frances Moore Lappé, author of the bestselling book “Diet for a Small Planet,” will be speaking at a virtual event co-hosted by the Harris Center for Conservation Education and the Monadnock Food Co-op on Thursday, May 4, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Lappé released a new edition for the 50th anniversary of the book, and since the book was first published in 1971, she said, “There are so many more layers than when I started.”

When Lappé wrote the book, she hadn’t anticipated the climate, biodiversity and water crises that the world is experiencing today. Wildlife populations around the world have decreased by an average of 69 percent since the book was published, and 15 billion trees are cut down every year, 6 billion for grazing.

“The climate crisis is greatly accelerated by our food system,” she said.

Lappé started researching the country’s food system to look into why people in poverty were starving when there was the capacity to feed everyone.

“Our economic system was creating this needless suffering,” she said. 

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“Diet for a Small Planet” explores a plant-centered diet. The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified red meat as a possible carcinogen and processed meat as a carcinogen. 

“The more we eat in the plant world, the healthier we are,” said Lappé, explaining that eating plant-based is also better for the environment, and even eating less meat can dramatically decrease greenhouse gas emissions. 

Lappé considers herself a possibilist.

“Human beings do not need certainty of success in order to engage and be part of the solution,” she said.

In the last 20 years, much of her work has centered around the need for democracy to change. She explained that in other countries, “people elected are not dependent on private wealth” – including funding from fossil fuels -- and the United States can learn from these examples.

In the Netherlands, the government is promoting more plant-centered eating. In the Nordic countries and Germany, they are working to restructure their elections to run on public support. 

Some places in the United States are working to make changes. Maine has public funding for elections, and Seattle has established “democracy vouchers” to attempt to balance out big-money funding for politicians. 

When Lappé visits universities, “I really feel that young people are searching for meaning and are so understandably horrified.”

Lappé said food has a lot of power in people’s lives, and the foods people choose to eat make a difference that is larger than their health. 

“Since food is something we experience every day, just knowing you’re choosing something every day that sends ripples through the economy,” she said.

On May 4, Lappé will be speaking about more than statistics.

“Every time I give any kind of presentation, I really grapple with hope. Hope is power,” said Lappé, “How do we stay motivated and effective when challenges are so great?”

People who would like to attend the event can register at