Democratizing Our Food System: Frances Moore Lappé on Agroecology

In a recent essay, Frances Moore Lappé, author of Diet for a Small Planet and co-founder of Food First, the Institute for Food and Development Policy, and the Small Planet Institute, argues that the primary obstacle to sustainable food security is an economic model and thought system that views life in disassociated parts. This system, which is embodied in industrial agriculture, obscures the destructive impact it has on humans, natural resources, and the environment.

She points out that the market logic of bringing the highest return to existing wealth leads to a concentration of wealth and power which makes hunger and ecosystem disruption inevitable. In essence, an industrial food system cannot, and does not meet our needs.

Lappé presents agroecology, which she defines as a model of farming based on the assumption that within any dimension of life, the organization of relationships within the whole system determines the outcomes, as a viable alternative to industrial agriculture, and one that has already shown “promising success.”

The shift toward a more democratized food system distributes power throughout communities and utilizes the unique knowledge and wisdom of individual farmers. As Lappé writes:

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