Harvard Book Store; WGBH Forum Network; Anna Lappe and Frances Moore Lappe: Diet for a Hot Planet
And so tonight I am pleased to welcome Angela pay with diet for a hot planet the climate crisis at the end of your fork and what you can do about it in conversation with Francis Marla pay as many threats to our modern world increase. It is at times overwhelming to decide what and how to change in diet for a hot planet. Analysts say offers reasonable and informed ways to lead a more harmonious and healthy life are viewed from booklist asserts that Anna addresses the major role industrial agriculture plays in today's climate crisis responsibly researched and cogently articulated pays far reaching investigation entails questioning scientists attending UN governmental corporate and grassroot agricultural conferences ploughing through daunting reports and visiting organic farms around the world. She gathers facts proving the global industrial agriculture is impoverishing the land destroying rain forests polluting waterways and emitting nearly a third of the greenhouse gases that are heating the planet. Dire for a ha plan is an impeccable informative and inspiring country contribution to the quest for environmental reform. And the pay is an active board member of the Center for Media and Democracy and a former board member of the
community for fuel food security coalition. The nation's leading network of food Jess's and sustainable agriculture organizations. In 2002 the PECO founded small planet fund to support movements focused on citizen led solutions to hunger poverty and environmental devastation around the world. She's contributed to various publications such as The Washington Post in The New York Times and has been publishing books such as feeding the future from fat to famine and 10 excellent reasons to think twice about eating meat. Previous works include Grub Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen and co-written with Francis low pay Hope's edge the next diet for a small planet. Francis Morley pale launched the California based Institute for food and development policy and 1975 after the success of her bestselling book Diet for a small planet. In 2008 she was honored by the James Beard Foundation as a humanitarian of the year and is on the advisory board of the corporate accountability International's value of the meal campaign. MS will pay has contributed to publications such as The New York Times in O magazine as a contributing CONTRIBUTING
EDITOR Yes magazine. Her media appearances include a PBS special special The Today Show CBS Radio and National Public Radio. We're thrilled to have them with us this evening. So you please join me in welcoming Ana and Francis look. Thank you. Ah. Thank you so very much. You can only imagine the pride and joy I'm feeling at this very moment. And I of course Flashback 40 years to sitting there pounding away on my elevator Vala venti typewriter as I realize that we humans were creating scarcity out of plenty. I could never imagine that 40 years later I would be introducing my intrepid really really brilliant writer. Intrepid researcher and a love hate. But there were some hints along the way. Like when she started edging me editing me at
age 16. And then we wrote the book together Hope's edge and as we passed drafts back and forth she had this delicate daughterly way of offering me feedback where she would. Put a little modest icon in the margin and I noticed it was the shape of a cheese slicer and that was meant to say Mom you've gone over the cheese. So she had a way with words all along and so I should not have been very surprised that she has created this magnificent book to tackle such a complex issue as heating our planet through the way that we grow food and she's done it in a way that has created a true page turner. So what I would like to do tonight is to host this by asking a.m. questions which she will then respond to and then very soon in 25 minutes you will have a chance to ask Ana questions. So Ana Now both of you document Come join me down here believe me.
I am but I'm going to ask you as opposed to most of us. I should also say I also say this is the first time we've sort of done this format and it's really funny of course hearing my mother praised my book because you know as you know mothers have a tendency to. Exaggerate their to their children's gifts. But it's of course sweet to hear you say that but yes she does have a tendency I was we were talking about coming here tonight and she was mentioning that she wanted to you know say how much she likes the book and I was reminiscing about the first time actually we ever did a public talk together. I was 10 years ago. I think it was at this big conference in California called Bioneers anough And if you've ever been to this but there are now actually all across the country. Anyway it's this huge kind of convention of environmentalists and activists and the crowd is usually about three to 4000 people. And they have these opening plenary sessions where you speak to three to four thousand people. And the organizers asked my mother if she would speak to Mrs. Right around the time that we wrote our first book together and she said all but you know I really want to be with my daughter.
And they say you know this is a speech in front of 4000 people basically and they said Well Frankie you know has desire to have any public speaking experience is she a good public speaker because the whole conference rests on these keynote presentations right. And so she tells me later that she told them oh yeah she's a really good public speaker. And I said I said. What are you talking about. I have never done any public speaking in my life and she said Oh no I said I've seen you do you give your high school graduation. Thank you. And I was big and then she said as if this made further evidence that I was going to be a great public speaker in front of 4000 people she said. And I've seen you at parties. So shows LiLo's over it and she was great and I was right. Well she was she was my of course mentor in the public speaking realm and and one of our colleagues this wonderful woman on our autumn a tall. I remember havingness distinctly having this conversation with her I was of course terrified. It was the day of this
speech and we were visiting on our adda and I was telling her that I was just terrified. And she said well she said do you feel like you and your mother have something important to say. Of course we do but that. Never mind that I'm really really terrified and really really afraid. And she said look I hate to tell you this but the point is not I'm not going to tell you anything that's going to get you over your fear. You know you probably will be afraid the entire time you're speaking but if you really feel like you have something important to say just focus on that. And remember that's what's most important in your own. And if the audience feels like you're nervous they'll consider it a form of flattery that you care enough to really try to want to be doing a good good job for them. So anyway I remember that that lesson. But yes so it is nice to hear my mother say she likes the book but it is I love the book and to my mother. So first I think what I want to know what most people want to know when they meet an author is what on earth led you to write this book. What was the genesis.
Well. That that question is a question that I've been getting a lot on the road I've I've been. This is about week three I guess of talking about the book and it's a question that comes up a lot and I'm sort of never know where to begin the story because in many ways of course I could begin the story by saying well the Genesis was being raised by you you know starting from very very early age. My mother brought me into the family business so to speak we we went to I think it was when I was three we went to Guatemala together with my older brother on a research trip that she did. I have memories of sitting in food first at Institute for food development policy and you know stuffing envelopes for their fund raising drive probably before I even knew how to read. So in some ways it kind of goes back to my childhood of course but the specific the specific topic I got really interested in. And it's now been a number of years that really it really started for me. In 2006 when I read a report from the United Nations and I write about this in the book I talk about this report that came out
by researchers at the Food and Agriculture Organization and it was the first time researchers took a real comprehensive and holistic view to try to understand the direct and indirect emissions related to livestock production globally. And so this report came out it's called Live stocks long shadow. And what it found is that the livestock sector. Particularly industrial livestock the kind of factory farms feed lot livestock that you talk about diet for a small planet that in addition to all the environmental and social impacts that you describe that there's this other class other cost as well and it's a huge cost to the climate. That report estimated that about 18 percent of global emissions come from livestock production. Which of the time was more than all transportation combined. So I read this study and I was just amazed struck surprised aghast at it. And so then I thought oh well we're going to start you know hearing about this in the news we're going to start hearing more about livestock and its connection to climate change and and
so I started kind of looking for media and coverage about the issue especially as I discovered that livestock of course is just one piece of our food system. But if you add up everything together studies we're coming out of places like the Pew Center for Climate Change saying our food system overall was responsible for one third of global emissions. So then I thought OK now we're really going to be hearing about this in the media I really want to learn more about it. And I wasn't really finding much coverage and. So I kind of myself started trying to find the research that was out there including studies like the ones I just mentioned and I came across some folks at Johns Hopkins who have since become good good friends and colleagues of mine who also were really interested in this issue and they were curious to look at media coverage of this food and climate connection and they did this media analysis of climate change coverage from September 2005 to 2008 and all the main leading U.S. newspapers Sadly a few of them are no longer no
longer with us since they completed their study but they looked at all the coverage of climate change in those newspapers and they found four thousand five hundred sixty two articles. And of those four thousand five hundred sixty two articles you know what percentage of articles even mention food farming or livestock anything. And I want to guess what percentage. And less than less than 2 percent less than 1 percent even mention livestock. But even more interesting than that is if you looked at what articles were talking about these issues you found that it was letters to the editor and opinion pieces mainly so readers of those letters to the editor and opinion pieces would think that they are opinions you know these are news articles and so it was sort of the comp that combination of factors that made me really feel like there was a big missing hole in the conversation that a lot of us had become much more aware of the environmental and social impacts of food. But there hadn't been this connection to climate change. And then another thing happened which
sparked me again to really focus on this book which is a number of my friends are involved. With the gut of youth activist climate change movement and with a program or an organization in particular called Energy Action which puts on these as put on a number of these huge convening of youth activists around climate change and I don't know if anybody went to the one in Maryland the first one they did they had I think 13000 young people come together. Climate change activists from around the country. And so I approached them this was right when I was it was in the heart of doing research for this book. And I said hey I'd love to attend your all the all the workshops that you're doing on food and agriculture and you know I'd love to see your presenters are and maybe I could present on one of those panels. And the organizers of the conference got back to me and I said actually you know we don't have any workshops on food. We'll have a single panel on food and agriculture. And so that got me realizing that there's also this hole in the conversation from the climate activists side
that we need to be really engaging in this dialogue from that side as well so some colleagues and I organized a workshop at that conference and we had about 200 students packed into this room hungry to learn about these connections. And we had an overflow out in the hall of this university of of young people who wanted to come in but couldn't literally squeeze into the room. So it was all these things that got me really passionate about trying to understand these issues for myself and then also trying to figure out how can we my colleagues and I communicate these issues both to those of us who deeply care about sustainable food and local food and get us to be able to speak the climate language. And then also how can we engage climate activists to to really bring food and agriculture into into their work and so I was really pleased when Bill McKibben who's speaking I heard later this week here that Bill McKibben wrote the foreword to the book because I think it really symbolizes how I want this book to be in conversation with these two movements.
So have the second thought is that I know we hear a lot that when people dawns on people that industrial chemical agriculture is really such a contributor to climate change you think oh the alternative is organic. But wait organic can't feed the world organic can't produce. That's the that's the frame and then there's a kind of panic set in so how do you answer that question about the capacity of organic agriculture. Yeah so that is definitely one of the I think most powerful push backs that we hear whether we're coming at this conversation again from a Climate Change perspective or from the kind of social equity perspective as we hear this argument. Organic Agriculture can feed the world or worse. I remember going to this Biotechnology Industry Organization conference I heard in the intro she mentioned that I've attended a lot of these industry conferences so one was that the trade association for biotech industry puts on this annual convention. And I went one year. And at this panel on organic
agriculture and biotech it was called organic in biotech. Won't you be my neighbor. And it was all about how organic farmers are really difficult because they're complaining about GMO spreading contamination on their farms and that they should just put up a big enough buffer zone of of of crop plantings and not complain so much and be better neighbors. But anyway at one at this workshop one of the panelists actually said that people who are opposed to biotechnology and opposed to industrial agriculture should be tried for crimes against humanity. And and the roomful of about 200 people nobody reacted like this is a completely ridiculous comment to make people just kind of you know went along a little bit. So this is this is such a dominant frame that I feel like and I mean I feel like this is a message that you've been fighting against for a long time too. But I feel like it in many ways
has become such a dominant frame that I noticed how many in the media don't even question its underlying premise. And so I kept finding as I was working on this book articles like one. One in the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail which is one of the biggest Canadian newspapers and a paper that I love and turn to and trust for good reporting. I saw this article in The Globe and Mail essentially repeating that statement it was by a journalist who said I have now decided based on my research that organic agriculture is a land gobbling luxury. Well guess who he quotes in his article as his research to back him up. He quotes an executive from Unilever saying we can't feed the world on our going to agricultural Unilever if you're not familiar with it is one of the largest processed food companies in the world. Who else does he quote. The head of business development for Syngenta which is one of the largest agricultural chemical companies in the world in the Syngenta execs saying you know we can't possibly if we were to go toward the end of Agriculture we'd have to plough down the forests and you know no one would want to do that. So.
So I feel like that it's such a dominant frame it's really out there and it's a very powerful message because who among us would want to feel like something we believe in something we're advocating for is is indirectly responsible for people starving half a world away. Right so it really is a way to shut us down. But what I am so excited about is that and I was so excited personally to discover and be able to write about in this book is that there is an incredible amount of research really really good research and really solid global consensus of exactly the opposite that the only way we are going to continue to feed this planet and be a healthy planet that isn't undermined by diet related illnesses is if we turn away from the chemical and fossil fuel treadmill of industrial agriculture and turn toward these agro ecological approaches. And so I was so excited to see that for the first time there was a a global effort. Really initiated by a number of international
organizations including the World Bank and the United Nations to do a multi-disciplinary engagement of 400 scientists and agronomists and expert development experts from around the world from 80 countries came together to look at what is the best kind of Agriculture to feed the world. You know what is the best kind of Agriculture to really get at the roots of hunger. And this report that came out has a terrible name. Unfortunately it's very hard to remember called the International Assessment for agriculture of science and knowledge for development. I think with the acronym of a. But. Despite the mouthful of a name this is a very important study I highly recommend you all if you're interested in how to argue this case go to AG assessment dot org and check out this study. So it's 400 scientists from 80 countries it was signed the study was endorsed and supported by fifty eight different countries notably not the United States but as sensually what it is is if you're familiar with the
climate science climate change world it's kind of the equivalent to our the IPCC the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change it's kind of has that same gravitas and their conclusion. Very very strongly is that business as usual is no longer an option. You know industrial agriculture as we know it is simply unsustainable on this planet and that our ecological solutions especially in the most drought stricken areas of the planet especially in some of the poorest areas of the planet. Is that is absolutely the direction that we need to go and that many places are going and are addressing hunger. So to me I write about that study and then there's a number of other studies that I cite that that are in a really really good science and really really powerful statements about the potential of organic agriculture and that this is a real false tradeoff that we're being offered you know either we have to protect the forests or we have to farm you know either we have to feed the planet or address climate change you know that they're arguing in fact that they're really one of the same
and that the sustainable solutions that are good for producing food that's good for our bodies it's also the farming that's better for the environment. It's also the farming that reduces the emissions from the sector so in some ways that was the most exciting. Well there's a lot that was exciting about writing this book but of discovering all of this under reported science was really exciting to me that I think really certainly bolstered my confidence to argue the case for the kind of farming that we talk about. So you have a choice here. Oh yeah do we. It's one more question of you are a lot more time for one more question and I'll try to be less long winded so briefly then one of the things that is so strong in the book is the way that you. Would you know expose the kind of greenwashing the kind of you know corporations putting on the cloak of oh yes we're concerned we're part of the solution but they're really not they're part of the problem. But are there trailblazers are there honest corporations that you can point to that we should
know about that are actually stepping up right now. So you know so I went to a lot of these industry conferences and I I went with the intention of trying to find those stories trying to find those companies that I could hold up. And I wanted to have a whole section in the book a kind of case studies of you know here are the best companies doing the best things. And when I handed up creating in the book was a section called spin because what I found at the industry conference unfortunately of these industry conferences was a lot more talk and a lot more kind of massaging of the message. But I really found a substantive change happening so just to give you a tiny taste of it. And one of these congresses I went to it was a big green marketing. And Green conference from Advertising Age which is the industry advertising trade journal. And one of the keynote presenters was a woman named Mary Dillon who is the chief marketing officer for McDonald's and she was there to tell this audience at NYU to let us all know that McDonald's was no
longer and should no longer be thought of as a fast food company but that it was a sustainability and community building company. And so her her her evidence of this first of all was the large green am on her PowerPoint no more golden arches No it was a big green M. And her example she was very excited to share with us. And she had some great slides about it as well her example was the launch that year a rollout of a new happy meal in Europe and the new European Happy Meal. They partnered with Conservation International for this happy meal and it was the European endangered species Happy Meal. So in this McDonald's Happy Meal you could you would get one of eight different little fluffy animals. A There is a Siberian tiger there is a polar bear and there was six other cute little stuffed animals. And as a as a kid you would you would of course as I don't know if any of you've ever seen a happy meal but the whole idea especially with promos like this one. So there are eight different animals and each half
million only get one animal right. So there's obviously a big encouragement to fill in your collection and get all eight animals and. And so they she was really excited about this because she said you know this is key to helping kids understand their connection to the environment. And there is a companion website that kids could go to to learn about what they can do to help the environment. Of course plastered across this companion website or links to go to the McDonald's site and get them hooked on the food. And of course missing from this what you can do to help the environment was do not buy another happy meal. Right. And so this was like her campaign that she was so excited about. I also thought as much as we're all kind of can laugh about this because of course we're not dumb we realize it's the same Happy Meal just instead of having some other kind of toy and it has an endangered species doll right but it's the same Havill. But also what I found particularly telling about this example is that I knew from a bit working on this book that just one and a half years before this one and a
half years before McDonald's had a slightly different theme to their Happy Meal that summer which was that they partnered with General Motors to launch a dual rollout across United States. A Hummer themed Happy Meal. So you could get one of six different kinds of Hummers. They had like the Hummer with the winch on the back that could train you know could could drive the other Hummers. You get a metallic silver Hummer Of course if you were a girl you know God forbid you only have the choice of a Hummer that summer they also had Polly Pocket dolls because of course what girl would want the Hummer. So but so they they gave out forty two million Hummers that summer. Forty two million little toys why shouldn't they gave out these aren't giveaways right these aren't for you had to buy that meal. So 42 million Happy Meals were bought that summer that's enough for every single person in Canada plus to get a Happy Meal with a Hummer in it. So I heard about a lot of addition of like this one that
were really much more about the window dressing of green versus really substantively addressing the emissions related to their supply chain. But what I did uncover and this becomes the the part in the book called Action What I discovered was that while at the same time I was going these industry conferences and hearing a lot of what I would call brainwashing hearing executives really practicing their lines like one of my favorites was the Coca-Cola executive at one of these conferences. He made his presentation and he ended it by saying so that this green sustainability conference he ended it by saying you know sustainability is where we sustain ability is where the world touches us and we touch the world which I actually kind of thought was a bit creepy. That was like how he was going to frame the sustainability message but so I was hearing a lot of that but at the same time what I was uncovering was some really exciting action happening on the ground here in this country and around the world.
And that was. Action among many other things directed toward changing policy directed towards change in personal practice but also directed toward changing how corporations act. And so what I was seeing was that in response to pressure from us from citizens and from students I was seeing some really strong examples of companies changing their practices. So just to give you one example I write about the movement now on college campuses called the Real Food Challenge was started a little more than a year ago after years of organizing and conversation among college students who were active in trying to bring good food to their campuses. And they were working on this in their own little pockets you know in different parts of the country. And about a dozen of them started having a conversation with they were saying hey we're getting a lot of sense of there's a lot of energy on my campus around you know starting a farm and start bringing in healthier food and connecting with their local farmers and so they started having a conversation about how could they scale that up and how could
they support other campuses and other students to do this. And they were particularly interested in having this conversation because they knew that campuses in this country two and four year colleges spend four billion dollars a year on food. And so they realize that if they could have put pressure on campuses and on those institutions and what they buy and what their values are around food that would have a huge impact. Have a huge impact in terms of what companies do. Companies are selling and how companies are relating to their customers. So they decided to launch this organization called Real Food Challenge. The idea is to provide that kind of support to college students to provide tips for how to speak to your food service provider to be able to speak to students on campuses to get them engaged to get stories of solutions on campuses. They start and ultimately the goal is that campuses that sign on to the Real Food Challenge agreed to try to shift 20 percent of their food 20 percent of campus food to real food so food that's good for our bodies that's good for the environment
food that's good for workers. Shift 20 percent of food to real food by 2020. So they started this about a year ago with a few dozen campuses as initial signatories to the challenge and initially on board. Within one month they had 200 campuses. Within one year they have more than 300 and 30 campuses who were actively engaged in the network and actively making change on their campuses and actively putting pressure on Aramark and Saxo and chart wells and all these other companies to start buying more local food to start supporting the kind of climate friendly food I talk about in the book. So that is an example I think of of how how we can exert some pressure to get companies to do more than just say that they're going to change but actually have them change their practices at the core. What's Like You Got A Whole Foods. I take it by that question you don't mean the good healthy diet for a Small Planet Whole Foods and not processed foods you mean the supermarket chain the supermarket chain.
So what's my take on Whole Foods. I. See. You know. One of the things that I tried to weave one of the messages and one of the values that I try to weave throughout my work and throughout my my exploration of what kind of food system we want to have is a connection between the kind of environmental sustainability part of the story and the economic sustainability and the kind of worker workers getting paid a fair wage and of sustainability peace and. And so I think that when I think about a supermarket like Whole Foods I certainly think there are a lot of places where Whole Foods is now that are getting you know places that are getting access to food some of which are really healthy that they didn't get access to before but I think that what I would really like to see like to see it happen really soon as I'd like to see Whole Foods be like a lot of other supermarket retailers. A union retailer you know
supermarkets used to be one of the places that had you know really really good jobs where you could earn a decent middle class wage and you could have a career working in supermarkets. And we've seen a lot of pressure to too. To take away that tradition in the in the retail supermarket retail business and Whole Foods has been really actively anti-union since its inception. So I would really love to see Whole Foods support labor rights among its workers in the same way that they've given a lot of attention to fair trade products and talked about the importance of paying farmers a fair wage. I'd like to see that embraced by their labor practices and labor labor policies and do that by letting workers choose to have a union within wholefoods and I've heard from a number of people who have tried to organize unions at Whole Foods about actual National Labor Relations Board violations where they've been fired or they've been there's been pressure put on them to stop
organizing and I'd live really love to see that stop and I'd really love to see again Whole Foods be a place where workers themselves can decide if they want to they want to have a union there. Thank you for the questions. Yes please. A question. I think there's some sort of. I guess what your take what your take would be on the distinction between local agriculture versus organic. Because I know it's hard oftentimes to get to be organically certified but I think it's better to be local than you know going for a brew or something so I'm just curious about how that works. So the question for those who didn't hear was about question about local versus organic or and especially you mentioned that for for some farmers it is very challenging to get certified to become certified organic. And so how do we kind of balance that those those values around local in the values around again again.
You know I think that in a perfect world this would not have to be a choice we would have to make right. But I think that we know that we are far from having widespread organic agriculture yet in this country there is just USDA just did the first really robust census of organic farmers in this country and we saw this just came out recently and we saw that the percentage of organic farmers and organic farmland is still you know below 5 percent and we still are a long way from having having the kind of organic farming organic farmers and the amount of organic farming and again if farmers really reflect consumer demand. So we are often in a place where we we have we have to make that choice and what I like to stress is that if I used to say that one of the reasons why I think it's so important to support our local and regional farmers is that I have yet to hear of a farmer who goes out of business whose farmland gets gets bulldozed over and becomes a strip mall and have that strip mall
you know revert back to a farm. And so it's up to us to continue to to preserve and protect that farmland and also be helping to support those farmers moving toward organic who aren't there or support those farmers who might be organic but haven't gone through what can be for a small scale farmer a really cumbersome and expensive process to get USDA organic certified. Right. So I used to say that but then I got in the I said that a few times in some speeches and a few months ago I got an email from someone saying sort of like one of those emails that was like knock knock knock Ana can I mention something. And I got this e-mail that said I just want to let you know about a strip mall out here in California. And we're a good bunch of community gardeners and we just it was because of the recession a lot of businesses went out of business. And this community gardening operation decided to go in and set up a community garden in sort of this abandoned parking lot next to the strip mall that is really you know been pretty much abandoned because of the recession. And then I just got another e-mail recently from
someone else who had heard about and told me about it. It's a shopping mall in Cleveland Ohio where community activists came in. Again it was a shopping mall that had been really hard hit by the recession so a lot of the stores had moved out and community activists went in and created an indoor kind of greenhouse food producing operation where they are now selling organic local very local food to folks that are coming to the shopping center so I kind of have to change my tune about those farms getting reverted back to you know to growing food but I still think the message holds that it is so important that we continue to have the ability to feed ourselves regionally and the only way we're going to do that is to support our farmers all of them. Thank you for the question. Yes please. By. The way change change for the better part of war. Again I know
there are more. That's been known to man. So I think going to his room probably top of the roof people's voice says it's actually more or less the same people that changing your sex. Market where you buy something it's a nation together. She's a regular there to bring about change. He doesn't really know how to use a really good question. And since I have another actor on the stage when I have her help in space that's because didn't do it because I think it's a really good one and it's challenging when do you want to. I mean I have some ideas too but well there's so many ways you come out of that I think the retire McDonald is one part of the educational piece. The more that we can reach out to people to understand the cost of themselves and their families from this that the threat to now that one in every three
American children will be diabetic. Two to really amp up the the education of all of us about the cost. This industrial chemical system and so that way to build demand and then the other piece of building a band is as a citizen stepping up to address the role of private interest in our political system through getting money out through voluntary public financing which is a real option now because there is a bill in Congress that would enable this so that then the incentives the Meet the subsidies that are now the tax subsidies going to support precisely the problem. Agriculture that Anna so powerfully describes is instead of that being subsidized that what is being subsidized is is the shift to organic. And so that then more is available so that it would be more affordable for any number of different kinds of restaurants and supermarkets so it's a both directions I think the building demand and shifting the political avenue.
Yeah and I think that there is also. You know I think that that there is the whole realm and it can feel so. So distant and so challenging to affect and yet the more that I see that has been affected the more I realize we have more power than we think we have in the whole realm of policy. And when you talk about you know what are the incentives to change and how do we how do we change that. Some of the most egregious practices especially on industrial factory farms. You know one of the things that we can demand is there all the sort of the two aspects of one thing we can demand is that we can demand that the laws on the books are being enforced. There's a great report out of the out of the pew there's a commission called the Pew Commission on industrial agriculture that really came out very heavily against livestock factory farms and one of their big recommendations is that there should just first of all we have we have some good laws on the books to enforce better quality control and better emissions control and better labor practices and all those kinds of things and so we can
put pressure on our elected officials to make sure those laws are being enforced and then the second thing that we can do is actually be speaking up for speaking up for better policy. And and I think that we can also be speaking up for better corporate practice and so you said that you know those of us in this room are probably not eating at McDonald's. That may or may not be true but I'm going to. Yeah I want to go out here on a limb and say you're probably right about that but I also would say that you know these companies don't necessarily know who their customers are and who they're not if they start hearing from us from a customer they don't know whether we are necessarily one of their customers or not. And what we certainly can see how we can expose them on this again whether we are eating there or not or are they one of the consumers or not is that companies like McDonald's. If you look at the kinds of changes they've made to their food in Europe compared to what they have done here you see there was a huge double standard.
So the question becomes well how do they achieve that in Europe and how can we expose this double standard here. So for instance the McDonald's shareholders just tried to pass a resolution to get McDonald's to shift to just marginally I mean really it was a marginal ask but marginally better conditions for the chickens that they were buying. It was a shareholder resolution put forward by the Humane Society of the U.S. McDonald's Corporation recommended to its shareholders to vote against this resolution even though the exact thing that the Humane Society was asking me to do in this resolution is exactly what they've been doing in most European countries for years and years and years. And wasn't there didn't you say that there was some European countries where they sort of even Yannick milk you know sort of a hand of milk at the McDonald's in Sweden and. And a couple of other countries. So I think that there's again even though we might not be their consumer we can be a player role in consumer education and we can certainly play a role in speaking up to McDonald's. I'm again maybe not as consumers but maybe we're part of a pension fund in which their
shareholders of McDonald's or maybe there's other ways to get engaged with companies that we may or may not be patronizing with our food dollars. Right. Please right here. Yeah. Yet another lie or it goes down very low dairy and you. Know. Yeah. You. Actually get just really raising this in brewery how to get. There. It is just. Very very rare. But this figure is used it just hard to get you know the body that. You. Buy. Into that will. That are low. Why Mabel. And I want to get well with this very awkward encounter or.
Rather. Just. Get. To know. You. Really really good question and this definitely came up a lot of came up especially or I would say almost entirely I saw come from the. American Meat Institute another meat industry players who were trying to argue for instance that grass fed beef is worse for the environment than factory and feedlot production. That's where I saw it coming from primarily and I saw they would quote They would cite these studies that were showing that actually grass fed beef emits more greenhouse gases than grain fed. But if you actually dig into looked into what was being accounted for in those studies you saw that the particular barriers in the life cycle assessment a particular kind of boundaries that they created in order to then measure within that boundary of what the emissions were and then compare those emissions you realize that they weren't first they weren't. Not only were they not looking all the other environmental factors but they weren't even really truly doing a holistic assessment of a
life cycle analysis for for these two different kinds of production so for instance in one of the studies that that came out saying that grain fatter factory farmed meat was better they didn't account for. The emissions from the production of the fertilizer that was used on the corn and they didn't account for the loss of soil carbon on the corn fields. That again the core and that was used for the meat. They didn't account for the fact that the shipping. The fact that we are now a net importer in the US fertilizer that's being produced in natural gas rich countries and shipped here. So that's one you know one piece is just even within that within the greenhouse gas emissions conversation. Is it a full story or is it only a partial story. But I think that you're absolutely right that this was something that I struggled with trying to really be clear in the book that just because it's important to bring the climate analysis and bring the sort of emissions analysis into the story that we tell
about the impact of industrial. Food Systems and the benefits of sustainable food systems it doesn't mean that then we only look at that and we ignore everything else we ignore all these other dimensions that it needs to be additive as opposed to saying really try really hard in the book not to say you know this is the be all end all and forget the rest. I try to say this is an additional part of the conversation that many of us have been now having for a very long time about how we have to look at the whole at food as a system. And we have to incorporate all these different values including environmental values and social values and define and the environment quite broadly including emissions but not only you know I think your question about how do you talk to conventional farmers about these issues and get them to change I mean I think that. One thing that's become really clear to me the more that I've met farmers for this book in my other two books you know the more that I think it's really you know I absolutely do not put the blame on the shoulders of the
farmers and and think that oh it's you know these farmers just don't get it and they just if they only they got it they could change that what you've really seen and you touched on your question is the absolute in deadness and the way in which some of these farmers are really trapped in a certain way of farming. And there's the entire infrastructure that's in place is an infrastructure that supports a certain way of farming and only that way of farming even the banking system supports only a certain way from you know I met farmers who would tell me Look I can't get a loan if I tell my local bank that I'm trying to get a loan to go organic they'll look at me like I'm crazy. And I remember having this particularly painful conversation with a farmer in Missouri who was growing more than 10000 acres a huge farm GMO farmer. And I've gone to to meet with him because he was the head of this kind of far more activist organization trying to work about work against monopoly control in the food chain and was totally anti Monsanto.
And then I arrive at is farm and we start talking and I realize he's a GMO farmer growing Monsanto crops. And I you know I just really openly wanted to engage him in a sort of trying to understand this would seemingly seem to be a huge contradiction. And he said Ana you know he said a lot of people don't feel comfortable talking this way about it. But what it really comes down to is it's really this personal choice it's about how I want how I always dreamed of how I wanted to raise my family. And he got a little teary talking with us but what he meant by that is you know he's grown up on a farm. And he it was you know his life's dream to raise his kids on a farm. And and he was doing it but the only way he could do it now in the region that he was farming in Missouri. And that's where he you know he has his family had been for generations was to buy Monsanto seed. There were no other seed sellers anymore. There were no other and he was a chemical farmer conventional farmer you know even if you want to do non-GMO there was no other.
There weren't other chemicals you know to go to be a non-GMO farmer. And as if to sort of it was like you know as if on cue we're having this heartfelt conversation as if on cue his doorbell rings and he goes to answer it and it's the guy from the C Company wearing his seat hat selling him see who just company that by the way had just been bought by Monsanto. Right. And so we're having this conversation and and it was you know incredibly painful to hear him talk about how stuck he felt and. And at the same time so we're having this conversation at the same time he was sort of talking about how he's starting to. To change a little bit he said with the help of his kids so just that year his kids had convinced him to start growing for the first time essentially a kitchen garden an organic garden that was growing real food because you can imagine if you're a GMO commodity farmer you're not eating any of that right. So his kids had had had encouraged him to start his garden for the first time and helped him get it started. And they had the land for it obviously there got this huge
farm. So they have this this thriving garden. And again it was this very kind of cinematic afternoons because the doorbell rang $16 and they were having this conversation time as kids and his daughter drives up right as he's telling me about his kids. And she comes bounding into the house with two beautiful watermelons straight out of the garden and they were the first watermelons from this garden. And he was so excited about it you know thrilled. He very generously gave me one of these watermelons I remember being so touched. But I think that experience of just hearing the what he is up against on his farm was a powerful story about how trapped so many American farmers are so I think the solution. It's again it's not to put the blame on farmers for not being able to change its being helping descried and sort of paint the picture of the way in which we have currently a kind of infrastructure that's in place that's preventing the kind of change we need. And just in the same way we need to fight for and argue for you know new green energy
infrastructure wind power and solar power and investment in that. We need to fight for green food infrastructure that would help farmers like that farmer transition away from GMO foods and toward sustainable more climate friendly farming. So then you asked about my Miles yes these miles I've traveled. I thought I thought about that so much when I was working on the book when I don't have a place want to have an answer and part of the time she had her 9 month old baby with her so she'd like doubled up. Thank you for was it does that help at all. Yeah that's a good argument no I mean like that. It's certainly you know certainly cause I mean it's something I don't think I have a good response for it no one's called me on it yet but it's sure as a matter of time and and I mean I guess one thing I would say is certainly as I've been talking about the book I've been trying to think about ways to be more do more kind of virtual engagements as opposed to flying myself places and so being myself in
on Skype for conversations with student groups for instance or doing more of that kind of thing. But. Yeah I don't really have a good good answer to that question. A lot of this conversation arrows in my mind when we talk about health care and energy work and essentially the consequences of industrialization process. Give us the things that we consume every day and the solutions that I agree with are often along the lines of well go backwards in time like all these things we built up over the last here. Oh you're so intelligent Well we didn't really understand the ramifications of the things we're doing we're looking at you know locally. Not my things but you know. And there'll be an energy will consume us and health care will live a healthier life. You won't need to be in the same way with food it seems slow local farmers have been trying to do these things. Problem is that you built
this gigantic economy and this gigantic power system of people who rely on these large institutional things and the this illusion would basically be to say you should exist in the first place and the people oftentimes look very kindly on the idea. Let's go back in time. Do technology and in fact this illusion often is well the other take on it. When I would say these things then you know you happen to be around and I see and heard with the sort of arguments have been a lot. Here is the solution isn't to go back in time is to go for it I just haven't gotten the best technology advanced enough right. If you get that are genetically modified organisms are going to be hard that's why I'm going to you know things or will find ways to deal with that are going they're going to produce less emissions and I certainly get those and the same thing with hope we better you know we need better tools the only hero we need better cars not fewer cars
out. I'm sure you've gotten this sort of argument and if I get right on it would I have gotten How do you respond to those. Fabulous question and I really love how you talk about that as. How to get the conversation how to talk about how we frame the debate and and the pitfalls of framing it around technology as a solution and really getting at sort of the underlying social issues if you want to. So I love what she says about this. Well that and I'll also say a few words more real brief just that if we shift the frame to the human relationship right and ask what are the that think of food as a part of a system of human relationships and the creation of power together then we realize we take the the site off strictly the technology or not and by the way of course the technology that we're talking about here the ACAR agriculture that were to eco
agriculture that we're talking about here is is not going backwards going forward into knowledge intensive approaches but the key I think is to shift. To understand that this is primarily not a technological question it's a question as I say of human relationships of power and the beauty. The exciting thing for me about the move toward organic toward agro ecology is that it shifts the power relationship so that farmers again over time more independence more resilience as they develop a knowledge base to work with their own soils and their microclimates and Anna in. Maybe this would be a good place to to read some section about the farmers who are developing that power than to have the knowledge to work with the soil with the soil organisms. And and generate all sorts of new enterprises as a result so it's not destroying jobs but shifting to different kinds of enterprises I know places I read about in India where there's a shift from agro chemical approaches depended on distant supply chains to local suppliers of of organic
indigenous potions made from everything from chilies to garlic and various things you know that are really industries that are coming up from the bottom that people are in control of themselves and not dependent on international markets with varying prices so I don't know if that's what you want to say but it is a shift away from just the technology to the human relationship question and the empowerment question. Our power over our lives. Yeah that's what I want to say. So do you think. Do we have time for a very brief little reading just just because it's just one of your pieces in there about the farmers discovering the Lamar shepherd. Yeah OK so if I could give you a flavor of the narrative it's so I'll just do a quick quick quick quick quick quick. See the one that the the one about progress. That one yeah. OK all right so it won't just give you a little taste. Yeah. Well short. OK so this is in the chapter about what this kind of farming looks like and again sort of how
it's not about going backward but really innovating but innovating in a way that's sustainable and kind of how that how this. Agro ecology is in this way of farming is kind of a different way of thinking about what progresses in time at this farm in Wisconsin. The farmer took over a land that had been corn growing just commodity corn took over about 13 years before I arrived there. And it you're standing on this farm and you can see all around you these rows of you know corn farmers and you're on this farm and you cannot believe that just 13 years before it was just rows of corn. He has trees and shrubs and all of hundreds of different varieties of plants thriving farm and gets virtually all of his fuel from his farm. From solar panels and wind panels and from his pigs and it's virtually not a single fossil fuel is involved with the production. So in his name is Mark Shepherd and the farm is called New Forest. And we're talking we just this scene we've just met
and we are getting to know. I'm going to mark a quick glance across the road from Mark's New Forest Farms and you'll see just this kind of progress we've been talking about progresses row upon row of commodity corn the stuff that looks edible but mainly gets turned into animal feed and heifer just corn syrup grown with tons of synthetic fertilizer. Nationally it's farms like this one that are part of the reason why the U.S. has lost half its topsoil since 1960. And why we continued to lose that precious topsoil 17 times faster than we replace it. Pointing across the road to those fields Shepherd asks. That's progress. He grew up learning firsthand about this so called progress near his family home in Lancaster Massachusetts just north of Worcester. He and his childhood friends loved playing a guessing game. What color would the river be that day. I grew up in a toxic dump. Living downstream from Dow Chemical Foster Grant and DuPont manufacturing operations Shepherd tells me along with pollutants from these
factories were toxins from the plastics industry birthed in the next town over. I was already convinced that the toxic mess had done its thing. Agriculture was just another part of it. Our rivers that run red progress is turning healthy soil into pale lifeless dirt. A shepherd calls it progress is changing our climate to the way we grow food progress. Shepherd doesn't think so. And this farm grew out of his search for a place to bring to life a different vision a farm that's restorative regenerative resilience that approaches farming as a knowledge intensive practice not a chemical intensive one. So I describe what this farm is and show you all these cool things that Mark is doing. And I'll just end with this part of the end of the chapter at the end of my visit. Shepherd shares with me a tattered National Geographic from 1993 sun worn and weathered the magazine includes a feature story about his hometown. You know the one with the multi-colored river. He flips the magazine open to two full page color photos in one bright red river bubbles past an old brick factory. The
- Harvard Book Store
- WGBH Forum Network
- Contributing Organization
- WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
- AAPB ID
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/15-930ns0m03c).
- Anna Lappe and Frances Moore Lappe, a mother and daughter pair who have revolutionized the way we think about food, hunger, and climate change discuss Anne Lappe's new book, "Diet for a Hot Planet." In 1971, Frances Moore Lappe's book "Diet for a Small Planet" sparked a revolution in how we think about hunger, alerting millions to the hidden environmental and social impacts of our food choices. Now, nearly four decades later, her daughter, Anna Lappe, picks up the conversation. In her groundbreaking new book, the younger Lappe exposes another hidden cost of our food system: the climate crisis. While you may not think "global warming" when you sit down to dinner, our tangled web of global food--from Pop Tarts packaged in Tennessee and eaten in Texas to pork chops raised in Poland, with feed from Brazil, shipped to South Korea--contributes to as much as one-third of the global warming effect. Livestock alone is associated with more emissions than all of the world's transportation combined. If we're serious abou
- Asset type
- Event Coverage
- Culture & Identity; Health & Happiness
- Media type
- Moving Image
Interviewee: Lappe, Anna
Interviewer: Lappe, Frances Moore
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: fbafcbcc42742f99099ab2dc313b713f29077c19 (ArtesiaDAM UOI_ID)
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
- Chicago: “Harvard Book Store; WGBH Forum Network; Anna Lappe and Frances Moore Lappe: Diet for a Hot Planet,” 2010-04-27, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 20, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-930ns0m03c.
- MLA: “Harvard Book Store; WGBH Forum Network; Anna Lappe and Frances Moore Lappe: Diet for a Hot Planet.” 2010-04-27. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 20, 2019. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-930ns0m03c>.
- APA: Harvard Book Store; WGBH Forum Network; Anna Lappe and Frances Moore Lappe: Diet for a Hot Planet. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-930ns0m03c