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Frances Moore Lappé
February 10, 1944
Pendleton, Oregon, U.S.
|Occupation||writer, activist, speaker|
|Subject||social change, living democracy|
|Notable works||Diet for a Small Planet, Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want, Getting a Grip 2: Clarity,Creativity and Courage for the World We Really Want, Getting a Grip: Clarity, Creativity and Courage in a World Gone Mad, World Hunger Twelve Myths, Rediscovering America's Values, the Quickening of America, Hope's Edge, Democracy's Edge, You Have the Power, World Hunger 10 Myths.|
|Notable awards||Right Livelihood Award, Rachel Carson Award, Women's National Book Association, James Beard Humanitarian of the Year, Seventeen honorary doctorates|
|Partner||Richard R. Rowe|
Frances Moore Lappé (born February 10, 1944) is an American researcher and author in the area of food and democracy policy. She is the author of 19 books including the three-million copy, 1971 Diet for a Small Planet that the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History describes as “one of the most influential political tracts of the times." She is the co-founder of three national organizations that explore the roots of hunger, poverty and environmental crises, as well as solutions now emerging worldwide through what she calls Living Democracy. Her most recent books include Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want, coauthored with Adam Eichen, and World Hunger: 10 Myths. with Joseph Collins.
Lappé was born in 1944 in Pendleton, Oregon, to John and Ina Moore and grew up in Fort Worth, Texas. After graduating from Earlham College in 1966, she married toxicologist and environmentalist Dr. Marc Lappé in 1967. They had two children, Anthony and Anna Lappé. She briefly attended University of California at Berkeley for graduate studies in social work.
Throughout her works Lappé has argued that world hunger is caused not by the lack of food but rather by the inability of hungry people to gain access to the abundance of food that exists in the world and/or food-producing resources because they are simply too poor. She has posited that our current "thin democracy" creates a mal-distribution of power and resources that inevitably creates waste and an artificial scarcity of the essentials for sustainable living.
Lappé makes the argument that what she calls "living democracy," i.e. democracy understood as a way of life, not merely a structure of government. The three conditions essential for democracy, she writes in Daring Democracy and elsewhere, are the wide dispersion of power, transparency, and a culture of mutual accountability, not blaming. These three conditions enable humans to experience a sense of agency, meaning, and connection, which she describes as the essence of human dignity. Democracy is not only what we do in the voting booth but involves our daily choices of what we buy and how we live. She believes that only by "living democracy" can we effectively solve today's social and environmental crisis.
Lappé began her writing career early in life. She first gained prominence in the early 1970s with the publication of her book Diet for a Small Planet , which has sold several million copies.
In 1975, with Joseph Collins, she launched the California-based Institute for Food and Development Policy (Food First) to educate Americans about the causes of world hunger. In 1990, Lappé co-founded the Center for Living Democracy, a 9-year initiative to accelerate the spread of democratic innovations in which regular citizens contribute to problem-solving. She served as founding editor of the Center's American News Service (1995–2000), which placed stories of citizen problem-solving in nearly half the nation's largest newspapers.
Frances Moore Lappé's works have been translated into 15 languages, the most recent of which is a Chinese publication of Hope’s Edge.
In 2002, Lappé and her daughter Anna established the Small Planet Institute based in Cambridge, Massachusetts a collaborative network for research and popular education to bring democracy to life. With her daughter, she traveled the world and wrote Hope's Edge.The two also co-founder of the Small Planet Fund,channeling resources to democratic social movements worldwide.
In 2006 she was chosen as a founding councilor of the Hamburg-based World Future Council. She is also a member of the International Commission on the Future of Food and Agriculture and the National Advisory Board of the Union of Concerned Scientists. She serves as an advisor to the Calgary Centre for Global Community and on the board of David Korten’s People-Centered Development Forum. In 2009 she joined the advisory board of Corporate Accountability International's Value the Meal campaign.Lappé is a Contributing Editor to YES! Magazine . Her articles and opinion pieces have appeared in publications as diverse as The New York Times , O Magazine , and Christian Century . Her television and radio appearances have included a PBS special with Bill Moyers, the Today Show, CBS Radio, and National Public Radio.
Lappé has received 18 honorary doctorates from distinguished institutions, including the University of Michigan, Kenyon College, Allegheny College, Lewis and Clark College and Grinnell College. In 1987 in Sweden, Lappé became the fourth American to receive the Right Livelihood Award. In 2003, she received the Rachel Carson Award from the National Nutritional Foods Association. She was selected as one of twelve living "women whose words have changed the world" by the Women's National Book Association.
In 2008, she was honored by the James Beard Foundation as the Humanitarian of the Year. In the same year, Gourmet Magazine named Lappé among 25 people (including Thomas Jefferson, Upton Sinclair, and Julia Child), whose work has changed the way America eats. Diet for a Small Planet was selected as one of 75 Books by Women Whose Words Have Changed the World by members of the Women's National Book Association in observance of its 75th anniversary.
Lappé has also held various teaching and scholarly positions:
In 2013-2014, she was the Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Fellow in Environmental Studies at Colby College in Maine.
Historian Howard Zinn wrote: “A small number of people in every generation are forerunners, in thought, action, spirit, who swerve past the barriers of greed and power to hold a torch high for the rest of us. Lappé is one of those.” The Washington Post says: “Some of the twentieth century’s most vibrant activist thinkers have been American women – Margaret Mead, Jeannette Rankin, Barbara Ward, Dorothy Day – who took it upon themselves to pump life into basic truths. Frances Moore Lappé is among them."
Lappé's son, Anthony, is a New York City-based, award-winning, media producer, (Invisible Hand Media), whose works as appeared on Vice and the History Channel. Her daughter, Anna, who lives in Berkeley, California, is the author of Grub, and Diet for a Hope Planet. She leads Real Food Media.
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