Frances Moore Lappe – You May Call Her Frankie
An enthusiastic crowd of nearly a hundred souls welcomed Francis Moore Lappé to the Healdsburg SHED just after sunset on the second Thursday in November. Lappé was on hand to help launch the North Coast Heritage Grain Alliance, a Sonoma County non-profit with an ambitious and worthy mission – to return a thriving local grain economy to California’s North Coast.
This was a diverse crowd – farmers & ranchers, millers, bakers, brewers, distillers and consumers, young and old; most definitely epicureans. We were there to celebrate the possibilities of local grain production, after all, and anticipating some fine local breads to sample. We were not disappointed.
It was clear the group was excited to hear Frances Moore Lappé speak, she being something of a rock star in the history of the food movement, but there was also a palpable excitement in the air that Lappé herself noted, something about being present at the beginning of a new era, ripe with possibility. This evening seemed remarkable, she suggested, one small but integral part of a growing worldwide movement that embraces the principles of agreocology and food sovereignty – what Lappé referred to as “the new science of ecological agriculture.”
“You are choosing to trust the Earth and each other as you build the new Grain Alliance to bring back heritage grains,” she told the audience, adding that “this is not a New Age fantasy, this is a ‘New Rage’ of positive possibility. Our actions are contagious. Courage is contagious!”
Informed by an abundance of research, Lappé’s enthusiasm has always been both contagious and empowering.
She caught the world’s attention in 1971, with the publication of her first book, Diet for a Small Planet. A worldwide bestseller, the book is credited with introducing millions of people to the ecological ramifications of meat production and the possibilities of vegetarianism. It was among the earliest popular critiques of the modern, industrialized food system which evolved in the post-World War 2 era, and provided inspiration for the subsequent work of Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters and many others.
Writing in The Nation magazine in 2011, journalist Michael Pollan suggested that “Lappé’s groundbreaking book connected the dots between something as ordinary and all-American as a hamburger and the environmental crisis, as well as world hunger.”
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