• Frances Moore Lappé Delivers Lowell Lecture

10/16/2007

Distinguished Visiting Scholar Frances Moore Lappé delivered a Lowell Lecture -“From Hunger to Democracy, and the Future of Life: My Journey”-  at Suffolk University’s College of Arts and Sciences on Tuesday, October 16.  Emerging from her years as a college student who thought of herself as “a good person, just not so smart,” Lappé became the author of sixteen books, including the 1971 bestseller Diet for a Small Planet, and an internationally acclaimed social and environmental activist.  

Social activism, Lappé told the audience of students, faculty, and visitors to the University, boosted her confidence and brought meaning to her life. As a welfare rights organizer in the 1960s, she saw the value of “self-empowerment and mutual solidarity,” while also witnessing the debilitating – indeed lethal- “stresses of poverty.”

These experiences led Lappé to the root questions that have shaped her activism for the past four decades.  What causes poverty, she asked?  Why are people going hungry, when
there is not an actual scarcity of food on the planet?  “Scarcity,” she determined, is a myth; people go hungry because of the modes of food production and distribution, not because there is too little nourishment to go around.  As she argued famously in Diet for a Small Planet and reiterated to the Suffolk University audience, one third of the world’s grain supply goes into feeding livestock, creating, in essence, a “protein factory in reverse.”  Our economic and agricultural systems “create scarcity out of plenty.”

Citing the statistic that 854 million people go hungry each day in the world today, Lappé remains devoted to the causes that propelled her into the public eye over thirty years ago.  With her focus still upon the social and economic systems that fail to produce fairness in the world, she now strives for what she calls “democracy as a living practice in which all voices are empowered- democracy as a way of life, a set of values and mutual accountability grounded in basic fairness and the inclusion of all of us.”

Lappé counseled the students in the audience to take purposeful risks in their lives. “Trust,” she said. “And go into thin air.” 

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