Food Activist Coming to Campus – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Food Activist Coming to Campus

Frances Moore Lappé, called the “Mother of the American Food Movement,” will visit campus on Wednesday, Nov. 18.  The talk will give students a chance to connect with American history, says Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology Devparna Roy, who organized the event.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for students to hear Lappé talk about important issues — the food crisis, the financial crisis — as well as provide a systemic view of these things and inform us about what ordinary people can do to find solutions.”

Lappé has been lauded by historian Howard Zinn as “[one of a] small number of people in every generation…who swerve past the barriers of greed and power to hold a torch high for the rest of us” and by a Washington Post review as “[among] some of the twentieth century’s most vibrant activist thinkers…who took it upon themselves to pump life into basic truths.”  

The lecture will take place in Albright Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. and will be followed by a 75-minute panel discussion with farmers, economists, biologists, and other experts. Audience members will have the opportunity to ask Lappé questions following the panel discussion.

With Joseph Collins, she launched the California-based Institute for Food and Development Policy (also called Food First) in 1971, an organization whose aim is to educate Americans about hunger. In 1990, she co-founded the Center for Living Democracy, a 10-year initiative to enable regular citizens to contribute to problem-solving. Lappé served as founding editor of the Center’s American News Service from 1995 to 2000, covering stories of citizen problem-solving and placing stories in half the nation’s most prominent newspapers. She and her daughter, Anna, now run the Small Planet Institute in Cambridge, Mass.

Her prominent works includeDiet for a Small Planet,” “Getting a Grip: Clarity, Creativity and Courage in a World Gone Mad,”World Hunger Twelve Myths,” “Rediscovering America’s Values,” “The Quickening of America,” “Hope’s Edge,” and “Democracy’s Edge. She has written 16 books in total; “Diet for a Small Planet” alone grossed over $3 million in sales since its publication in 1971 and fostered a mass interest in – and conversion to – vegetarianism.

“I wanted to bring someone to HWS whose language would be understood,” Roy explains. “Lappé is perfect for our campus because of our interest in political activism surrounding food and agriculture. She has the genius to explain complex issues in simple language. She brings stratospheric issues to the ground.”

Roy met Lappé as a Ph.D. student at Cornell University when Lappé was invited to speak. “She is a very luminous person, full of energy and life, and I was struck by her presence and speech,” reflects Roy. “To see a woman achieve so much in only 65 years of life – it’s tremendous learning from her. She’s an exemplary person who does America proud.”

Lappé’s 40-minute speech will be followed by a panel discussion featuring the following experts: Professor Randy Barker (emeritus professor, Cornell agricultural economist; expert on Asian agriculture); Professor Jason Hamilton (Ithaca College biologist; expert on climate change issues); Dr. Ed Mabaya (Cornell Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development; expert on African agriculture); Mary-Howell Martens (Lakeview Organic Grain; expert on organic agriculture in New York state); and James Ochterski (Cornell Cooperative Extension; expert on local agricultural systems and sustainability).

The panel discussion will be moderated by Rodmon King of philosophy department.

This event is jointly sponsored by the Finger Lakes Institute, Cornell University, Campus Greens and other clubs and departments at HWS.