Summary of Frances Moore Lappe’s ‘Hope’s Edge’

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In 2000, Frances Moore Lappe and her daughter Anna Lappe made a pilgrimage to five continents. They were in search of models of community development not dependent on multinational corporations. They challenge the myth of world food scarcity and the multinationals strategies to dominate agribusiness.

Agribusiness pushes the use of hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizers and herbicides in third world countries, as well as in developed countries such as the U.S. The results are devastating, farmers commit suicide as their debt rises, and there are other unforeseen results.

Who would have guessed that agribusiness’ blueprints for expansion would cause globalization and consolidation of our food system? Or alarming loss of plant diversity? Or continuing farm crises? Or vanishing water and soil resources? Or genetic modification of our food crops, including soy and corn?

In India, the Lappes met Vandana Shiva who inspired the Nine Seeds Movement called ‘Navadanya.’ Farmers are encouraged to recover their traditional agriculture by saving and sharing seeds. Thousands of farmers have been helped.

In Bangladesh, thousands of women use micro-credit to start businesses and lift them out of poverty.

In Brazil, the Landless Workers Movement (MST) has taken over idle land to farm. Over 250,000 families are involved. The infant mortality rate has been cut in half. They practice sustainable agriculture rather than turning to agribusiness to get them started.

In Kenya, poor villages are creating their own tree nurseries. The Greenbelt Movement has planted 21 million trees to replace the deforested areas that the loggers have denuded.

In Berkeley, California, children are learning to grow organic produce and cook natural foods in their public middle school.

Communities in the U.S. are turning to community gardens to grow their own organic foods. In various localities, small farms are forming coops and growing organic veggies and fruits. They are selling their produce at farmers’ markets.

In their book, each chapter includes luscious recipes from the country they are discussing. The last section, ‘Coming to Our Senses,’ the Lappes include more than 50 gourmet recipes from leading chefs and cookbook authors.

The Lappes encourage us to think broadly and look at whole systems of people and cultures. In ‘Hope’s Edge’ they report the inspiring examples of micro efforts to make a difference in the planet’s health and the local economy. They challenge the myth of world food scarcity and the multinationals strategies to dominate agribusiness. They give us recipes reflecting the cultures of the five continents they visit, and they delight us with gourmet recipes from the best chefs and cookbook authors. Come join in the revolution of our small planet.


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