- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; Reprint edition (April 4, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1608194655
- ISBN-13: 978-1608194650
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #351,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do about It Paperback – March 29, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Lappé, daughter of green food writer Frances Moore Lappé, evokes her mother's 1971 classic, Diet for a Small Planet, to critique industrial farming and its carbon costs and give her own updated, upbeat prescription for a climate-friendly food system. Chock-full of statistics, how-to lists, and stories from her wide-ranging investigative travels, Lappé's book proposes a farming method that is nature mentored, restorative, regenerative, resilient, and community empowered; and a diet to reduce carbon and cool the planet. Put plants on your plate, she advises; go organic, avoid packaging, eating out, and wasting food. Much of this will sound familiar to Michael Pollan's readers, and unfortunately, Lappé pales by comparison. Her stories tend to be shallow, unfinished, and sometimes marginally relevant, and her prose is sloppy. And although the book's message may have been ripe when Lappé began her research, extensive media coverage on the subject since may have put this book past its freshness date. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* Frances Moore Lappé’s Diet for a Small Planet (1971) launched an essential inquiry into the connections among food, justice, and ecology. She teamed up with her daughter, Anna, in another incisive overview, Hope’s Edge (2002), and now Anna addresses the major role industrial agriculture plays in today’s climate crisis. Responsibly researched and cogently articulated, Lappé’s far-reaching investigation entails questioning scientists; attending UN, governmental, corporate, and grassroots agriculture conferences; plowing through daunting reports and studies, and, most pleasurably, visiting organic farms around the world. She gathers facts proving that global industrial agriculture—specifically the use of hazardous chemicals, concentrated animal feeding operations, biotech crops, and processed foods—is impoverishing the land, destroying rain forests, polluting waterways, and emitting nearly a third of the greenhouse gases that are heating the planet. In contrast, well-designed organic-farming techniques reduce carbon emissions and toxic waste while nurturing soil and biodiversity. Convinced that eating wisely is one way to influence the marketplace and, ultimately, help combat world hunger and climate change, Lappé decodes food labeling, dissects Big Ag’s “greenwashing” tactics, and offers “seven principles of a climate-friendly diet” in an impeccable, informative, and inspiring contribution to the quest for environmental reform. --Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
What this is, is a very well done discussion of green farming, agribusiness, and what to do to eat greener. There are several chapters discussing the greenwashing of agribusiness, and how marketing makes us think that products are "green" which inherently are not. It's fascinating reading.
Specifically, there has been an enormous amount of discussion in the popular press in recent years about how agribusiness-grown foods are better for the planet because they're more efficiently grown--which isn't true; the numbers that have been manufactured to make agribusiness look good don't take into account the sheer volume of fossil fuels required to transport food.
There are also some interesting discussions about how to get sustainable beef: the author talks about carbon sinks in grassland; some ecologists have noted that large swaths of grassland hold even more carbon than forests. If we could just keep cows out of feedlots, then it would be a lot more o.k. to eat beef.
Then, the author goes off on a "green farming" tangent that is a little hard to stomach because her ideas about real farming aren't realistic; the author goes into a long discussion of green farming and rhapsodizes at great length about "growing what would grow there naturally."
No offense, but you know what grows in much of the breadbasket of the United States (California and Texas) without huge amounts of transported water? Nothing.
Despite some of the unrealistic ideas, there are some neat ideas in the chapters on green farming.
The author tells you what to actually eat near the end of the book. It's the usual, "Food, mostly plants." to quote Pollan, and preferably local.
This is very well thought-out, analytically sound, reference for anyone interested in farming or ranching in a sustainable way. It's much better logically than much of what gets published in the popular press.
Who would like this: ecologists, farmers, ranchers, owners of small family farms, people involved in urban planning, and anyone who wants a more in-depth discussion of green farming techniques.
Who wouldn't like this: PETA apologists, and vegan evangelists. She has some negative things to say about them.
In DIET FOR A HOT PLANET, Anna Lappé also looks at agriculture's contribution to climate change. In contrast to McKibben's EAARTH, DIET FOR A HOT PLANET's comparatively narrow focus results in a more cohesive and comprehensive discussion of the topic. Unfortunately, like EAARTH, it too is riddled with speciesism.
From farm to plate and everywhere in between, DIET FOR A HOT PLANET identifies and examines the many unsustainable aspects of our food production and distribution systems. This necessarily involves standardization, industrialization, waste, pollution, and - perhaps above all else - a dependence on fossil fuels, resulting in a glut of energy-dense foods. (It's all connected, yo!) As McKibben notes in the forward, "[T]he entire industrial food system essentially ensures that your food is marinated in crude oil before you eat it."
In order to compensate for the degradation of soil quality, farmers have moved away from crop rotation and the use of leguminous crops (which bind with atmospheric nitrogen) to the over/use of synthetic, petroleum-based fertilizers and animal waste (which may solve the problem of soil fertility in the short-term, but actually exacerbate it in the long run). Food travels across countries and around the globe before reaching our dinner tables, requiring the use of fuel and attendant carbon emissions. Consumers travel by car to supermarkets and groceries - many of which are concentrated in the suburbs - to buy this food, most of which is heavily processed. (Not even the fruits and veggies escape such a fate: about half of the vegetables consumed in the U.S. are canned, frozen or dried!) In anticipation of our patronage, grocers store perishable items in massive, continuously-powered refrigerators and freezers - some of which consist of open cases. (Explain that one to your ten-year-old!)
As if this isn't appalling enough, roughly 27% of our edible food is wasted - simply thrown away - at both the individual and institutional levels. As Lappé points out, most of this waste finds its way not into compost piles, but the garbage; some municipalities report that food waste represents 50% of the contents discarded into their landfills. Instead of feeding people or nourishing the soil, this uneaten food becomes waste - waste that's the second-largest source of methane, next only to enteric fermentation (read: animal agriculture).
And then we have the most egregious offender of them all: meat, eggs and dairy. In Lappé's own words,
"[L]ivestock production is one of the biggest contributors to the country's greenhouse-gas emissions, both from pastures and from feed-crop production, from smallholder farms to large-scale ranchers to multinational corporations. The deforestation driven by pastureland and cropland is only one reason livestock contribute so much to global warming, as we'll see.
"Globally, livestock account for as much as 18 percent of all global greenhouse-gas emissions, according to the U.N. study mentioned earlier. That figure includes almost one tenth of carbon emissions, more than one third of methane, and roughly two thirds of nitrous oxide. (Livestock is responsible for other polluting emissions as well, including two thirds of all human-made ammonia.)" (p. 19)
Yet, like McKibben, Lappé simply isn't able to imagine in world in which humans don't retain their supremacy over nonhuman animals:
"All told, 70 percent of all agricultural land in the world is tied up with livestock production. But livestock don't need to cause such ecological harm. Traditionally and still today, in much of the world, livestock have been integrated into diverse farms and their communities, playing a range of roles: providing companionship, manure to enrich soils, muscle for farm work, and as a source of protein as meat. [...L]ivestock can be an integral component of sustainable systems. Well-managed livestock can even nurture the land. All that stomping and tromping helps to press seeds into the earth, fostering plant growth. The action of hooves on the ground can also break up the soil, allowing in more oxygen and improving soil quality. Today's self-described "carbon farmers" are adopting these proven practices and mimicking time-honored grazing methods to increase carbon content in the soil." (p. 19)
While I agree that nonhuman animals "can be an integral component of sustainable systems," I don't understand why humans must enslave them in order to realize this. Nor can I comprehend why a diet comprised of no meat is so much harder for Lappé, McKibben & Co. to swallow than one involving a serving of meat once every few weeks or months. Lappé (daughter of Frances Moore Lappé, a longtime vegetarian and author of DIET FOR A SMALL PLANET) describes herself as an "on and off" vegetarian since her teen years - so you'd think she'd know better than to, say, categorize nonhuman animals as "plants." Then again, perhaps the "and off" part explains it.
All snark aside, as with EAARTH, a good deal of DIET FOR A HOT PLANET is devoted to celebrating small, local, organic farmers - including those who make a buck off the bodies of others. While Lappé does at least broach the idea of vegetarianism - according to my notes, McKibben only mentions the v-word (vegan) once and, if I remember correctly, it's to make a very unfunny joke at our expense - it's in a rather wishy-washy, noncommittal way that's guaranteed to have abolitionists rolling their eyes. Sandwiched between the glorified animal exploitation, however, sits a wealth of facts and figures, tables and numbers, including some original reporting by Lappé. Additionally, she tackles a number of common myths surrounding climate, industrial agriculture - and biotechnology's ability to save us from the perils of each.
If you can get past the speciesism, both books are interesting reads. Whereas EAARTH is more thought-provoking in its subversiveness, DIET FOR A HOT PLANET leaves the reader with the information necessary to counter climate change skeptics and corporate apologists for our existing food industries.
Three out of five stars, with two stars deducted for speciesism - including Lappé's inability to promote a plant-based diet without objectifying nonhuman animals.
Obviously, you may not agree with everything the author says, but it's hard to dispute that there are some big problems out there that should be addressed.
We need to start "voting with our dollars" at the supermarket. If we keep buying meat, veggies, etc. that were grown irresponsibly, the big corporations will keep delivering them to our grocery store shelves. All of our little changes can add up to something big if we just make an effort.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
And I was inspired and renewed.
This is a wonderful in-depth book that touches on many of the main factors that could be...Read more