Taking Charge of World Community Food Sources

World community food sources are abundant while people starve and the social, political and economic costs of dietary excess continue. From this chaos people have been inspired to make local decisions about their food sources and land use.


| June/July 2002



These giggling 3- and 4-year-olds in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, get four nutritious meals a day in an innovative city   program that treats food as a right of citizenship. Children in poor communities are given tasty food enriched with ground eggshell, manioc leaves and other nutritious ingredients that would otherwise be thrown away.

These giggling 3- and 4-year-olds in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, get four nutritious meals a day in an innovative city program that treats food as a right of citizenship. Children in poor communities are given tasty food enriched with ground eggshell, manioc leaves and other nutritious ingredients that would otherwise be thrown away.


PHOTO: ANNA BLYTH LAPPE

People discover they can be in charge of world community food sources by making local decisions about food.

In their quietly elegant way, Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappe are sowing the seeds of and reporting on a revolution. Frances calls it the "Rebellion of the Guinea Pigs," and it's one that involves us all.

As citizens of the industrialized world, we are part of what Frances — Frankie, as she's known informally — describes as "the greatest nutrition experiment ever conducted." Our high-sugar, high-fat diet marks a radical departure from the unprocessed, plant-centered diet of our ancestors. In the United States alone, staggering statistics for obesity and diet-related diseases show just how poorly the guinea pigs — that would be us — are doing.

The diet isn't so great for our planet either, devouring water and prime agricultural land and spewing cancer-causing chemicals into the soil, air and water, in quantities too vast for the ecosystem to process. The social, political and economic costs of this dietary excess boggle the mind, but here's one statistic to consider: Approximately 1 billion people on Earth are obese; roughly an equal number are starving. Within that disparity lie chasms of potential conflict for world community food sources.

Something has to give. And as the mother-daughter duo demonstrate in example after example in their heartening book, Hope's Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet, ending this "experiment" can be lifesaving, health and community producing, deeply satisfying and joyous. Most revolutions can't be described as delicious. This one absolutely is.

Thirty years ago Frances Moore Lappe became a household name with the publication of her remarkable little book, Diet for a Small Planet. That earth-shaking book was the product of a questing intellect, which still hasn't hung up its traveling shoes. She was 26, living in Berkeley, California, the heart of the we-can-change-the-world '60s zeitgeist, and her questions seemed fairly simple: What causes poverty? What can we do to end hunger and suffering? Why isn't there enough food?





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