Summary and book reviews of Hope's Edge by Frances Moore Lappé

Hope's Edge

The Next Diet For A Small Planet

By Frances Moore Lappé, Anna Lappé

Hope's Edge
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  • Hardcover: Jan 2002,
    400 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2003,
    400 pages.

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Book Summary

Thirty years ago, Frances Moore Lappé, then a 26 year-old in Berkeley, wrote the groundbreaking Diet for a Small Planet – a book that started a revolution in the way Americans think about food and hunger (and has since gone on to sell 3 million copies and counting!). Lappé challenged the experts who were predicting imminent famine. Revealing that the world actually produces enough to make us all chubby, she helped us see how we generate the very food scarcity we say we fear. Most importantly, she showed how each of us has the power to choose the opposite: a diet best for our bodies and also best for our planet.

Now Frances and her daughter, Anna, pick up where Diet for a Small Planet left off. Responding to the yearning of more and more people for deeper meaning in their lives, the Lappés undertake a maverick mother-and-daughter journey of discovery. Crossing five continents, the Lappés explore some of the most puzzling questions of our time:

Why, as societies, do we create the very inequalities and devastation of nature that, as individuals, we abhor?

Are there paths we each can walk that will, in practical ways, heal our lives and help the planet?

How can we build communities in tune with nature's wisdom in which no one anywhere, has to worry about putting food – safe, healthy food – on the table?

Searching for answers, Frances and Anna take us with them into worlds beneath the radar of the global media.

From the foothills of the Himalayas to the lush farms of Brittany, the Lappés expose the false tradeoffs within corporate globalization: chemical agriculture or starvation; genetically modified foods or scarcity; corporate capitalism or chaos. In Hope's Edge we discover, indisputably, that we have choice.

We travel to the San Francisco Bay Area to explore a revolutionary approach teaching children respect for the environment and humanity as they grow food in the school's garden and then prepare it for each other – at the same time rejecting corporate giants such as McDonald's, Coca-Cola, and Domino's Pizza that have infiltrated our school cafeterias. Across the Bay, the Lappés discover the Garden Project, where former local prison inmates are working in their own organic garden – a form of rehabilitation that is reducing re-arrest rates, assisting ex-convicts with job placement, and feeding the community in turn.

We meet peasants in Brazil who are facing down big landowners to create vibrant communities and tackle the roots of hunger in Latin America. We tour one of that continent's largest cities that has made good, healthy food a right of citizenship. We celebrate the efforts of village women in Bangladesh, working with loans from the Grameen Bank to lift themselves out of the viscous cycle of poverty. We meet poor villagers in Kenya who are turning back the encroaching desert, and take heart from renegade farmers in Wisconsin, undeterred by widespread hardship, who are learning to thrive while caring for the land. As we walk with these trailblazers who are transforming fear into creative action, we can see possibilities for change in our own lives that before were invisible.

"In all these places,” write the Lappés, "we discovered people who are not accepting corporate global capitalism as it is but are evolving it so that growing and eating good food – and economic life itself – is again embedded in life-affirming values and community."

An intimate mother-and-daughter journey, Hope's Edge is also a far-reaching, impeccably researched vision for social and environmental transformation. The Lappés reveal strikingly parallel insights emerging across our planet – insights springing us free from the prevailing thought traps that lock us personally and globally into self-destruction. What the Lappés offer in place of these traps is a guiding framework gleaned from the breakthroughs of people they meet on their journey – a framework as useful in grasping our global predicament as in finding meaning in our lives. According to the Lappés, because food is our most primal need and common bond to the earth and to one another, it has unique power to ground us in our personal search for meaning.

Hope's Edge also celebrates vegetarian, organic, and whole-foods culinary pioneers who in the last 30 years have brought us back to the sensual pleasure of eating fresh, whole foods and reconnecting us to the earth and to those who tend it. It features nearly seventy recipes from trailblazers such as Mollie Katzen (The Moosewood Cookbook), Anna Thomas (The Vegetarian Epicure), and Alice Waters as well as mouth-watering menus from some our country's most celebrated natural foods restaurants including Angelica Kitchen (New York City), The Millennium Restaurant (San Francisco), and Chez Panisse (Berkeley, CA).

Join one of our country's foremost activist thinkers, Frances Moore Lappé, and her daughter, Anna, on a trip around this small planet. Hope's Edge: The Next Diet For A Small Planet helps each of us find new courage to trust ourselves and choose the world we want. For everyone who grew up with the original Diet for a Small Planet, and for those who have just discovered it, the result is a compelling look back at where we've been and an inspirational vision of the world we can choose.

THE BEGINNING

Prologue
PUSHING THE EDGE OF HOPE

We're packed in on a flight from southern India to steaming New Delhi. The smell of curry fills the plane cabin. From her beaten-up backpack on the floor next to me, Anna pulls out a book to brush up on what we're about to see. Opening to a chapter on Indian food traditions, she starts reading aloud, but at the second sentence she stops. Puzzled, I peer over her shoulder and read, as she has, the Sanskrit word for food.

It is "anna."

We looked at each other, stunned. Almost thirty years ago, at exactly the age Anna is now, I wrote Diet for a Small Planet, exploring the question: Why hunger in a world of plenty? It was a book that would set me on a lifelong path-one grounded, I only realize thirty years later, in the very name I had unwittingly given my daughter. Anna turns the page, and we read on, learning that Annapoorna is the Indian goddess of food. We can't know what we'll find on the rest of our ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Author Blurb Jane Goodall
Absolutely one of the most important books as we move into the 21st century.

Author Blurb Steckley Lee, National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness
It is a rare occasion to meet people who truly make a difference in our world. Thank you for giving me and the attendees of the Northeast Student Summit on Hunger and Homelessness this opportunity. Your experiences and commitment to changing our dysfunctional food system are inspiring and enlightening. After your speaking session, countless attendees expressed the impact your life stories had on them. The stories you both shared showed them that social change can happen through thoughtful problem solving, innovation, and hope. This was tremendously encouraging after having spent so much time throughout the weekend learning about the problems of hunger and inequality in our world. Thank you so much for sharing this hope and the practical ways it can be turned into change. We wish you the best in the remainder of your book tour and look forward to continuing to support your work in the future.

Author Blurb Howard Zinn (Author of The People's History of the United States) and Roz Zinn, Cambridge, Massachusetts
I've been reading your powerful, beautiful, brave book-so needed now more than ever. What is so fine is the mix, the shared experience of it with your daughter, the raising of life and death issues, the intermingling of food-presented beguilingly.

Publishers Weekly

Recommended for those interested in a better understanding of the world hunger crisis and personal ways to make a difference and for healthy cooks too a recipe section features delicious vegetarian, organic and whole-foods dishes from celebrated restaurants such as Chez Panisse and Angelica Kitchen.

Booklist - Donna Seaman

Now, with the help of her intrepid and observant 27-year-old daughter, Anna, Lappe continues her paradigm-challenging analysis of the plexus of food and freedom in this era of globalization, corporate agricultural monopolies, genetically modified organisms, extreme use of pesticides, ubiquitous fast food, and accelerated environmental decline. A thorough, often shocking discussion of the myriad ills associated with these conditions is contrasted with vivid reports of traditional organic and socially responsible alternatives practiced by brave and hardworking visionaries, many of them women, in the U.S., Brazil, Kenya, Bangladesh, India, and France. As they chronicle these smart, inspiring efforts and consider the concept of food security as a human right, the Lappes drive home their crucial theme what's best for our bodies is best for our communities and for the earth itself.

Library Journal - Karen Munro

Tough-minded but optimistic, they capture the ills of genetic engineering, pesticides, and corporate concentration, as well as successful efforts by local people to restore their dignity and interconnection to life...... . Essential for all public and academic libraries.

The Washington Post

Some of the twentieth century's most vibrant activist thinkers have been American women Margaret Mead, Jeanette Rankin, Barbara Ward, Dorothy Day who took it upon themselves to pump life into basic truths. Frances Moore Lappé is among them.

Reader Reviews
Trish Boyles

Hope's Edge
I'm about half-way through Hope's Edge - BRAVO!!!!!!! I just finished Fast Food Nation and I'm struck by how uplifting Hope's Edge is, and how depressing Fast Food Nation was. Similar information but to your credit you continue to offer proof of...   Read More

Keith Polo

Hope's Edge
I recently visited your website and began reading your book. Congratulations on compiling, perhaps, one of the most accurate portrayals of what is really going on out in the great wide world as far as food and agriculture, communities, and economics ...   Read More

Davina - BookBrowse.com

This follow up to the 1970s (and perennial) bestseller Diet For A Small Planet is a must read if you have any interest in understanding why for every human being on the planet the world produces two pounds of grain per day (plus fruits, vegetables, ...   Read More

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