Influential Foodie Lappé Shares World View and Hunger Myths

Forty years ago, Frances Moore Lappé began to change the way we eat and think about food. The best-selling and award-winning author shared her world view during an exclusive Ursinus visit.

Lappé’ shared her message: the way we think about hunger and other world problems is the greatest obstacle to ending them. The co-founder of the Small Planet Institute, connected with students as they discussed ways to effect change.The esteemed activist discussed her new book, World Hunger: Ten Myths, at a public event Nov. 4, in Olin Auditorium,and engaged with students in sociology, philosophy and other classes during the following two days.

The event was Lappé’s only appearance in Pennsylvania and in the surrounding area. She told students that realizing that systems had to be changed “was my first ‘aha’ moment age 26.” Food scarcity, she said, is one issue that can be changed if citizens, who have disrupted the natural regeneration of nature, for example, focus on causes and thinking about the roots of problems. Fighting hunger, her new book points out, means tackling the politics and power that prevent access to food, which is actually abundant enough to feed the world.  

“I am not an optimist. I am not a pessimist. I am a possible-ist,” she said during an informal chat with students. “It seems possible to break the cycle of fear and scarcity.” Students connected with her emphasis on the common good.

Lappé is the author of 18 books including the international best-seller Diet for a Small Planet, credited as the catalyst for the modern food movement. Named by Gourmet Magazine as one of 25 people – including Thomas Jefferson, Upton Sinclair, and Julia Child – whose work has changed the way America eats, Lappé is a recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, which she received “for revealing the political and economic causes of world hunger and how citizens can help to remedy them.” In 2008, she received the James Beard  Foundation Humanitarian of the Year Award.

Lappé’s new book, World Hunger: Ten Myths, is co-authored with Joseph Collins and addresses the root causes of hunger around the globe while taking into account the economic, political, environmental and technological changes that have occurred over the last 40 years. 

“Frances’s work has appeal across many disciplines,” said Rich Wallace, Ursinus professor of environmental studies and event organizer. “This event is designed for popular audiences and will provide insight into widely held myths about world hunger and malnutrition. Frances is an example of a person whose interest in something specific has led to amazing discoveries that have changed the way we dialogue around and think about the food we eat and where it comes from.” 

The environmental studies curriculum is conceptually based on the critical thinking she embodies,