MOTHER's Newsworthies: Author Frances Moore Lappe and Plenty Organization worker Stephen Ganskin

Learn how Frances Moore Lappe, Stephen Ganskin and Plenty work to help others in need.

| May/June 1981

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    Author Frances Moore Lappe links the growing famine in the Third World with the increasing concentration of agricultural land ownership in the United States in her books.
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    Stephen Gaskin is a leader in the organization PLENTY — a volunteer aid agency founded in 1974.

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Brief: Frances Moore Lappe

"Food was a launching point for many changes in my life," says Frances Moore Lappé, author of Diet for a Small Planet (the overnight bestseller about complementary vegetable proteins, which sold more than a million copies in the early 1970's). Since the publication of that nutritional landmark, Ms. Lappe has dedicated both words and actions to the cause of eliminating world hunger. Along with Joe Collins, the optimistic Californian has written several volumes on this problem, which include Food First: Beyond the Mirth of Scarcity ( a compelling and painstakingly researched examination of the causes of world hunger) ... Aid as Obstacle (a myth-shattering expose of overseas relief programs) ... and What Can We Do! Food and Hunger: How You Can Make a Difference (a collection of interviews with anti-hunger activists).

In all of her works, the author links the growing famine in the Third World with the increasing concentration of agricultural land ownership in the United States. She also outlines alternative policies which would benefit both family farmers in North America and malnourished people in underdeveloped countries. Among Lappe's books, Food First in particular has had a powerful effect on traditional thinking about diet and hunger. In fact, the Spanish-language edition of that book sparked such controversy in Mexico that it was instrumental in convincing President Lopez Portillo to call for a complete reversal of his nation's food policy.

In addition to her literary efforts, Ms. Lappe co-founded — in 1975 — the San Francisco-based Institute for Food and Development Policy. The organization's primary goal, it seems, is to stimulate an active response to the world food crisis by emphasizing what individuals can do to change the situation lie have helped turn people from a simple charity response toward an attempt to tackle the causes of hunger," explains Lappe.

Among other projects, the IFDP is currently sponsoring a comprehensive analysis of global pesticide dumping ... examining the threat to food supplies in the United States that's posed by our own agricultural export boom ... completing an investigation of health-endangering birth control techniques promoted abroad by U.S. funded agencies ... and conducting studies of food and farming programs in Cuba and Nicaragua.

Besides all that activity, Ms. Lappé has also found time to prepare the tenth anniversary edition of Diet for a Small Planet. Conceived as the chronicle of a decade of change in American food consciousness, the new book will appear this fall.— Frances Newell.  

Brief: Stephen Gaskin and Plenty 

The good work done by PLENTY — a volunteer aid agency founded in 1974 and operated by Stephen Gaskin and other members of The Farm — was recognized late last year, when the group received the first annual Right Livelihood Award, an "alternative Nobel prize" given out on the eve of the regular Nobel presentations.

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