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Frances Moore Lappé on Democracy

The quotes below are from an interview with Frances Moore Lappé published in the 19 December 2018 issue of the New York Times: Frances Moore Lappé changed how we eat. She wants to do the same for our democracy. With her coauthor Adam Eichen, Lappé has written a new book Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want. Daring Democracy is an optimistic examination of the powerlessness people feel about standing up for democracy. 

Lappé’s coauthor Adam Eichen is an activist and organizer with several progressive organizations. He serves as Communications Strategist for Equal Citizens and as a member of the Democracy Matters board of directors. In 2016, he was appointed deputy communications director for Democracy Spring, which joins a hundred organizations in working for campaign finance and voting rights reform.

Frances Moore Lappé in 2019.

Frances Moore Lappé in 2019.


The real question is why are we, together, creating a world that none of us as individuals would ever choose?

I want to shift people away from thinking: Democracy, that’s for somebody else. That’s policy, wonky stuff. It’s not. Participating in democracy is the essence of a good life.

Democracy stands for a set of three conditions that are necessary to bring forth the best in our nature and keep the worst in check. It means the continuous and wide dispersion of economic and political power; it means transparency; and it means cultivating a culture of mutual accountability.

Frances Moore Lappé

Diet for a Small Planet

Lappé’s name is probably familiar because of her book Diet for a Small Planet. Small Planet rocked the nation when it was published in 1971. This one book, like Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962, revolutionized thinking about the environment. Certainly, others advocated the benefits of a meatless diet, but Lappé convincingly made the case for grains being less environmentally costly and perfectly fine protein sources.

Rachel Carson and Silent Spring

Rachel Carson (1907–-1964) was a marine biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She was also considered by many to be the most respected science writer in America. By the late 1950s, she had written three books about the sea, including the best selling  The Sea Around Us published in 1951.  In 1962, working against personal adversity and professional denigration, she finished Silent Spring. Before she died two years later, she had started a powerful movement to stop the chemical pollution of the environment.

A new edition of Silent Spring was published in 2002 with a new afterword by Rachel Carson’s biographer, Linda Lear. Lear discusses the assaults on Carson and her writing by the chemical industry. The new introduction is by author and activist Terry Tempest Williams. William’s 2019 book, Erosion: Essays of Undoing, is a collection of her introspective and poetic essays that explore how we are eroding our sense of home, self, environment, and democracy.

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