‘Diet for a Small Planet’ Revisited

With the 41st anniversary of Earth Day approaching on April 22nd, it is time to revisit the seminal ‘Diet for a Small Planet.’ Written by Frances Moore Lappe, the book began as a one-page handout and eventually, after detailed research into how we grow our food and why we eat what we eat, was published in book form in 1971, eventually selling 3 million copies.  In the process Lappe helped spur a movement that is still going strong today, and in the last ten years, has hit the mainstream.
‘Diet for a Small Planet’ grew out of the author’s realization of and subsequent outrage that almost half the world’s grain supply is fed to livestock while millions starve. Lappe realized that world hunger is a human creation, and that the poor distribution of food to those who need it was creating, in her words, a ‘scarcity of democracy.’ In ‘Diet for a Small Planet,’ she sought to help bring about change by not only bringing these global food problems to light but also how we as individuals could make decisions on what we eat to change our health and help the planet, specifically by eating lower on the food chain.

‘Diet for a Small Planet’ inspired a generation of authors, cooks, and environmentalists to help change the way we think–about how we grow food, about what we eat, and how we treat our planet.  A host of related books have since been written, including ‘Hope’s Edge-The Next Diet for a Small Planet,’ co-written by Lappe and daughter Anna, published in 2002, Michael Pollan’s ‘Omnivore’s Dilemma,’ and  Mark Bittman’s ‘Food Matters.’  With the global population this year expected to reach 7 billion, there is no better time for change.