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“Diet for a Small Planet” hit the country like a bomb fifty years ago, as it told of the hunger of hundreds of millions around our globe. But its surprise was not that there was a scarcity of food. It told us instead that the reason for the hunger was the waste and injustice in our corporate-dominated and meat-centered food system.

And now, fifty years later, one in five children young children are stunted by malnutrition. Frances Moore Lappe’ tells us what has happened during that fifty years and why the growing global movement toward healthy farming and healthy eating require both our “everyday choices and our courage…” our willingness to: “challenge concentrated economic and political power”, establish rules that put our health and Earth first, and to DO IT NOW!

Lappe’ cites the ways food-related issues, and livestock production in particular, continue or increase the climate crisis.

  1. Food and faming have become health hazards, including the ultra-processed food that has increased cases of diabetes, and the toxic pesticides that kill the very insects we need to sustain life of many plants and animals and farmworkers.
  2. The food system generates up to 37% of greenhouse gas emissions, with meat and dairy corporations generating more than Exxon, Shell, or BP and food waste generating more than what all but two countries emit.
  3. Healthy soil and groundwater are fast disappearing, as are forests. She notes that producing a pound of beef takes 1800 gallons of water, nearly 50 times more than a pound of vegetables.
  4. Excess nitrogen, used as fertilizer, runs off the farmed land, including land that grows livestock feed crops, as does manure. The nitrogen runs into waterways and then the Gulf of Mexico and 414 other ocean zones, where it has created “dead zones” killing marine life. The runoff also worsens smog, haze, acid rain, forest loss, well-water, climate warming and the “ozone hole”.
  5. By killing animals and destroying habitats, we have eliminated more than eight in ten wild mammals on Earth.​