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Diet for a Small Planet (20th Anniversary Edition) Mass Market Paperback – May 12, 1985

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

With the new emphasis on environmentalism in teh 1990's, Lappe stresses how her philosophy remains valid, and how food remains the central issue through which to understand world politics. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 20 Anv edition (November 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345321200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345321206
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Joanna D. #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 27, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is an amazing book. It has lasted longer on the shelves than many other books of its kind and packs an influential punch.
The secret of "Diet for a Small Planet" is that it contains something for everyone, whether you believe in vegetarianism, the ecological production of the food supply or just want better health.
If you are an animal activist or don't eat meat for religious reasons, Lappe provides valuable info on how to get the proper balance in your diet by matching foods to get all the essential amino acids you need (the building blocks of proteins.)
If you are interested in health, you can use Lappe's book to provide alternative main dishes that are satisfying and lower in fat, higher in fiber. Meat is a major source of saturated fats, beans and rice and other grains provide lots of benefits such as soluable and insoluable fiber, vitamins and minerals.
If you are ecologically minded, and this is the thrust of the book, you can eat comfortably, knowing your dietary items take up less resources to grow.
I don't subscribe to all Lappe's philosophies, yet, this book had and continues to have a major influence on me. Rice and beans or grains and beans are regular items on our table, meatless days outnumber days when meat is on the table, and this is because I read Lappe's book long ago. I am sure I am better for knowing the information here.
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Format: Paperback
Like so many applied chemistry students in the 1970s, Diet for a Small Planet was among the books that made chemistry 'alive'. It brought our classroom abstractions to the kitchen table. Lappe's writing is persuasive and readable and her recipes are simple and affordable enough for a student's skill & budget.

Much of the controversy of this book arose regarding its 2 main points.
1) When proteins are assimilated or metabolized as a 'complete protein' containing all amino acids in proper proportions, there is a high 'protein utilization' by enzymes / human digestive system. (see note, this was researched and refuted in 1981)
2) The 'food chain' pyramid of feed grains to animal meat has about a 10% net protein efficiency. That is, you get 10 times more protein eating corn & beans vs. eating beef or red meat protein.

Lappe's contention that we could feed many of the world's malnourished if we in rich nations were vegetarians or used meats as seasoning rather than entrees may be a scientific & nutritional ideal. The bad news is that it is as difficult to change traditional patterns of food consumption as it is to change religion or culture. The good news is 'protein complementarity or not', combos of legumes and grains have for centuries been the traditional pattern of food comsumption by the poor in most of Latin America & Asia. whether eaten as a meal or not, the 'survival value' of these protein-rich combos made them the 'fittest' for the environment so they became traditions.

For similar food chem books, try Harold McGee or especially Shirley Corriher's classic 'Cookwise'.

Note from Wikipedia:
'In fact, the original source of the theory, Frances Moore Lappé, changed her position on protein combining.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By B. Smawley VINE VOICE on July 5, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Oh gosh what can one say about a book that is so insightful and factually sound? I commend Ms. Lappe for pulling together all the data contained in this book. She does not preach nor try to change anyone's mind. The info contained in the book reminded me of that old line "just the facts please." I believe she focused on protein because it is "lack of protein if we don't eat meat" (not vitamins, minerals, iron, etc.) that scare people about giving up meat. Ms. Lappe includes charts and facts and figures -- all kinds of information -- to reassure the reader that plant eaters can in fact get adequate protein from veggies -- minus the artery-clogging fat. Certainly, one gets plenty of vitamins and other nutients from plant/grain foods. Perhaps we bring our personal baggage along when reading such a book. I believe it is wasteful to feed grain to animals when people worldwide are starving and I doubt the earth can continue to support such wastefulness. So I welcome books such as this. Each person should think over the issues then decide. If one decides to stop eating meat or to cut back on the amount eaten, this book is loaded with information to help with food combining in the plant/grain families to make sure one will get the necessary nutrients. The recipes are included to help us along, and I will be referring to them and this book often in the coming weeks (or months!) Ms. Lappe's philosophy gets 5 stars too. I highly recommend this book.
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128 of 153 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Foster HALL OF FAME on June 9, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In the early 1970s, I left my abusive husband, took my three kids and resumed my education (I was a high school dropout age 28 with three kids). Those were the days of "Earth shoes" that tilted your body into a more upright position, and the "discovery" of yogurt and acid rain. Although I did not realize it at the time, it was the beginning of the renewal of the Woman's movement.
My new friends included a small group of women in their late twenties and early thirties who had left abusive husbands, had small children, and were in the midst of gaining a new awareness that later on took on the sobriquet, "consciousness raising." Among other tools we acquired a number of books including, THE WOMEN'S ROOM and DIET FOR A SMALL PLANET.
DIET FOR A SMALL PLANET is a gem, not because it contains wonderful recipes (it doesn't) but because when you read it, you can get an inside view of a subculture that has disappeared. Sometimes I think the happiest moments of my life occurred in those days. I had no money, but I was in college--a life long dream my mother had and never realized--and with friends who helped me to feel good about myself for the first time in my life. DIET FOR A SMALL PLANET nourished this feeling. DIET explained how the real food chain worked and that everything we ate affected some other life form. We learned that we could eat and hurt others less, and save a few bucks because the meals were cheap.
My kids still laugh at some of the meals I served them based on the recipes in DIET. Over the years, we've had many discussions about which food was worst. They say the "yogurt and barly soup" wins hands down. This book explains how to make awful food and many better veggie books are on the market.
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