“Along with Wendell Berry and Barry Commoner, Lappé taught us how to think ecologically about the implications of our everyday food choices. You can now find that way of thinking, so radical at the time, just about everywhere—from the pages of Time magazine to the menu at any number of local restaurants,” wrote Pollan.
The world already produced more than enough food than was needed to feed the people, they argued. It’s just that too much of that food was in the form of grain which was fed to animals, too much was produced by multinational agribusinesses in export-oriented economies for consumption by Western consumers, too much was simply wasted along the food chain. The global food system was, they suggested, decidedly undemocratic, with waste and hunger its intrinsic byproducts. Simply cranking up the efficiency of our industrial ag system and producing more was not the answer.
The myth of food scarcity remains a popular explanation for hunger today, a point Lappé promptly made to our gathering in Healdsburg. Several years after the publication of Diet for a Small Planet, Lappé met journalist Joseph Collins and began a lengthy writing collaboration that continues to this day. The duo founded Food First – the Institute for Food and Development Policy – in 1975 and soon thereafter published their first of many books together, . That book, along with Susan George’s 1976 How the Other Half Dies, laid to waste the notion that hunger was caused by insufficient food production for an overpopulated world, a central tenant of the prevailing conventional wisdom of food and hunger.
“There are actually 40% more calories produced for every person on Earth than there was when I wrote Diet for a Small Planet in 1971. It comes to about 3,000 calories for every human on Earth.”
Unfortunately, Lappé has noted in her most recent collaboration with Joseph Collins, World Hunger: 10 Myths, roughly half of the world’s grain and most of its soy protein is used for animal feed and non-food uses. Lack of food is still not the problem.
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