Saving the World, One Meal at a Time: Diet for a Small Planet author to give Assembly Series talk

Frances Moore Lappe to give advice on how to 'get a grip in a world gone mad'

Many of the principles guiding the modern food movements can be traced back to concepts first explored by Frances Moore Lappe in her pioneering 1971 book, Diet for a Small Planet. The book sold millions and influenced a generation about the social and personal significance of a new way of eating, and as a result, a new way of viewing the world.

On Tuesday, November 6 at 4 p.m. in Graham Chapel, Lappe will present a talk for the Assembly Series based on her most recent book, “Getting a Grip: Clarity, Creativity, and Courage in a World Gone Mad.” The program, co-sponsored by the University Libraries and the student organizations Feed St. Louis and Alliance of Students Against Poverty, is free and open to the public. Graham Chapel is located on Washington University’s Danforth Campus.

For Lappe, the problem of hunger that is experienced by whole populations is a result of current food, farming, and international aid policies. Running through her 15 books, many of which she collaborated with her daughter, Anna, is the theme that scarcity is not the cause of hunger; rather, it is caused by decisions made by a few, which always benefits them and leaves many powerless. Built into this theme is the idea that each person, by making his/her own educated decisions about what to eat, can change the balance of power and create an equitable distribution system for all.

Among her collection of writings are Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity, co-written with Joseph Collins; Rediscovering America’s Values; and Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet,” with Anna Lappe.

In addition to her publications, Lappe co-founded and directs the Institute for Food and Development Policy, which educates Americans about the causes of hunger; and the Center for Living Democracy, a ten-year initiative to spread democratic innovations by ordinary citizens.

In 1987 she received the “Right Livelihood Award,” sometimes referred to as the “alternative Nobel” for her vision and work healing our planet and uplifting humanity. She also was given the Rachel Carson Award from the National Nutritional Foods Association.

Currently she and her daughter lead the Small Planet Institute, a collaborative network for research and education of democracy. In addition, she contributes to Yes! Magazine, is a founding councilor of the World Future Council, is a member of the International Commission on the Future of Food and Agriculture, and serves on the National Advisory Council of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

She received a bachelor’s degree from Earlham College, and attended graduate school at Stanford University.

For more information on Assembly Series programs, visit the Web site at, or call 314-935-5285.