Monday, November 19, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
For those of you who didn't get a chance to see our series, The Endless Feast, when it made its way across the airwaves this summer on public television, you can see a few clips of it on YouTube here. Despite the grueling hours and long travel days, it was so much fun to get a chance to visit the incredibly inspiring sustainable farms across North America.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
When Monsanto chairman, president and CEO, Hugh Grant, made his remarks this year at the World Food Prize awards ceremony, I would guess he didn't mean them to be so damn ironic. In this op-ed piece in the Des Moines Register he closes on this point: "I know this: Proud men and women everywhere would rather produce their own food than wait to unload it from the back of a relief truck." That may be true, but his company has been a global force in disabling "proud men and women" from being able to feed themselves by saving, sharing, and planting their own seeds. The company has systematically attacked farmers for allegedly using their seeds without paying proprietary technology fees.
Friday, November 16, 2007
It was a blast to toast Bryant tonight as he was awarded, along with our food-politics hero Marion Nestle, with the first Natural Gourmet Cooking School's Award of Excellence in Health Education. Bryant gave a moving and eloquent talk about how much the award meant to him, and I got to be among all of his awesome friends and colleagues as we cheered. Annemarie Colbin, founded the school thirty years ago (tonight was also a birthday fete) and she introduced the evening's awardees. She told the crowd of 100 or more that was crammed into the large demonstration kitchen that when she started the school people were aghast: Eek, a cooking school that focuses on fennel not foie gras? On beets not beef?! She was among the vanguard; now the school's philosophy is mainstream. And soon, she said, we might just be passe!
Posted by anna lappe at 1:47 AM
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Had my third (and last) visit to Milk-n-Honey. As I told the actors, I was just getting used to seeing them so frequently, I'm gonna miss them!
For the After-Show Cafe, I hosted a wide-ranging conversation with the audience and Marion Nestle. After a brief break for all of us to pour ourselves cups of steeping hot fair-trade coffee, we settled back into our seats and pondered some of the play's themes. We talked about diabetes and New York City bodegas trying to stock healthier foods, and we talked about the role of the pharmaceutical industry profiting off of ill health.
When someone asked Marion's advice about what we can do to make change beyond just choosing more health-supportive foods, Marion didn't skip a beat. "My favorite political action these days is working to ban advertising junk food to kids." That might seem like a radical idea in a country where kids entertainment--from TV to DisneyWorld--is intricately linked to the junk food industry, but in a lot of European countries, this is just a given. Anyone game?
It was a really fun night and I got to see lots of old and new friends. I'll end with Marion's final words: "Go out and do something!"
Posted by anna lappe at 1:55 AM
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
This was a rare week when I got to see my Green Gourmet girls--Elise, Ludie, and Elizabeth--twice in one week. (And, if I'm lucky, I'll see them on Monday, too). Ludie was sporting their new line of tees ("Stop the Violence" printed above a pesticide gun with aim at some innocent carrots and apples) and Elizabeth and Elise told me about their latest YouTube venture: Food Poetry. Check it out here and get inspired by their other vids, with their food education genius on display.
Posted by anna lappe at 8:29 PM
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Guerrilla News Network -- Many of us have experienced a global warming moment: it hits us that humans have altered our earth’s climate forever. For founder of the Energy Action Coalition Billy Parrish, who has helped to gather 5,500 people from every single congressional district for a rousing conference this weekend, the moment came on a glacier above the Ganges, one of India’s most sacred rivers.
It was the summer of 2002 and Parrish had hiked to the glacier’s peak with scientists who had been studying the area. Pointing out across the ice, they said: “That’s how far away it was last year; that’s where it was the year before.” Within his lifetime, Parrish learned, the glacier would be gone.
“That glacier feeds a river that supplies fresh water to more than 450 million people,” Parrish said, addressing the darkened stadium during the opening night of this three-day conference in College Park, Maryland, which will culminate with a lobby day on Capitol Hill on Monday.
After his epiphany in India, Parrish dropped out of Yale and launched what would become the Energy Action Coalition. The Coalition now boasts more than forty member organizations at campuses across the country. This weekend’s huge feat – the first national youth summit to address the climate crisis – is the accomplishment of all of these Coalition partners and many other organizations.
Tonight’s opening talks set the tone for the conference: Impassioned, powerful speeches, participatory singing, and a ton of incredible energy.
Author and activist Mike Tidwell (The Raging Tide), one of the speakers, bounded onto the stage and boomed into the mic: “Global warming doesn’t mean anything to me anymore. This isn’t climate change; the climate is snapping into a whole new regime right in front of our eyes.”
“One million people displaced in unprecedented firestorms in Southern California? Snap. My dad calling from Atlanta wondering where he is going to go in three to four months when people there predict drinking water will run out? Snap. The Arctic losing a chunk of ice this summer the size of Florida in the span of one week? Snap.
Another of the night’s rousing speakers was Majora Carter, the dynamic founder of Sustainable South Bronx. During his talk, Tidwell had reminded us that while the United States has just 5 percent of the world’s people, we emit 25 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. Carter added this addendum: we also imprison 25 percent of the world’s people. What’s the connection between prisoners and the environment? Carter argued powerfully that the same double standard affecting our industrial design has shaped our “war on drugs,” which she said really should be called a “war on the poor.”
“If they located the same dirty industries that are polluting our environment in rich communities, we’d have had clean energy a long time ago,” Carter said to much applause, including among the thirty-four young people, in “Green the Ghetto” tee’s who came down with her from New York City.
The movement that brought has pulled off this conference is awe-inspiring in its energy and its rapid uptake: At the beginning of this year, not one single campus in the country had pledged to go carbon neutral. Today, thanks to the Coalition’s Campus Climate Pledge, 430 have done so.
In 1961, Tidwell said, when Kennedy made his we’ll-send-a-man-to-the-moon speech (and a few decades before many of these students were born) what was extraordinary was not just the dream; it was not just the timeline. What was extraordinary, Tidwell underscored, was that the core technology to get there did not yet exist.
What’s different with the challenge of climate change? We have the technology we need, now. (North Dakota, for instance, could meet 36 percent of our country’s energy needs with wind energy from that one state alone.) What’s different is that we have the policies we need to ensure the necessary emissions reductions. And, of course, what’s different is that our planet’s climate is at stake; we don’t have the option of failing.
I’m here with my younger brother, environmental scientist Matthew Lappé, who only three years ago was a college student himself—way back when the Energy Action Coalition and its partners had yet to take off. Now, he spends his days working out kinks in proposed policy solutions and studying the science of climate change. “It can get pretty depressing,” he said. “But being here makes me appreciate how quickly this movement has developed, and just how far it has come.”
Find out more at www.powershift07.org.
GNN contributing editor Anna Lappé is the co-author of Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen and Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet and the co-founder of the Small Planet Institute and Small Planet Fund.