Frances Moore Lappé is the author or co-author of 20 books, many focusing on themes of “living democracy”—suggesting not only a government accountable to citizens but a way of living aligned with the deep human need for connection, meaning, and power. She has received 20 honorary doctorates from distinguished institutions across the country, mostly recently Indiana University in 2021.
Her first book, the 1971 Diet for a Small Planet, has sold over three million copies. Its 50th- anniversary edition was released in 2021 with features in The New York Times, Boston Globe, and other major outlets. In 2019, The New York Times Magazine interview with Frances began: "Frances Moore Lappé changed how we eat. She wants to do the same for our democracy."
Her most recent publication, Crisis of Trust: How Can Democracies Protect Against Dangerous Lies (2023), dives into the roots of the American disinformation crisis and shares lessons from democracies leading the fight to combat harmful lies and promote truth.
In 2017, Frances released Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want coauthored with Adam Eichen. Booklist (the American Library Association's book review magazine) wrote,
“With specific plans of action and encouraging words of support, Lappé
and Eichen extend concrete hope to those who feel politically helpless.”
Other recent works include It’s Not Too Late! Crisis, Opportunity, and the Power of Hope, World Hunger: 10 Myths and EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want.
In 1987 Frances received the Right Livelihood Award (considered an "Alternative Nobel") "for revealing the political and economic causes of world hunger and how citizens can help to remedy them." In 1985, she was a visiting scholar at the Institute for the Study of Social Change, University of California, Berkeley and from 2000 to 2001, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2008 she received the James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year Award for her lifelong impact on the way people all over the world think about food, nutrition, and agriculture.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., describes Diet for a Small Planet as “one of the most influential political tracts of the times." In 2008, it was selected as one of 75 Books by Women Whose Words Have Changed the World by the Women's National Book Association. Frances was also named by Gourmet Magazine as one of 25 people (including Thomas Jefferson, Upton Sinclair, and Julia Child) whose work has changed the way America eats. Her books have been translated into 15 languages and are used widely in university courses.
In 2011, EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want won a silver award from the Independent Publishers Association. In 2008, Getting a Grip along with Diet for a Small Planet were designated as "must reads" for the next U.S. president (by Barbara Kingsolver and Michael Pollan, respectively) in The New York Times Sunday Review of Books. In 2007, Getting a Grip was a San Francisco Chronicle Best Seller and received the Nautilus Gold/ "Best in Small Press" award. Other recent books include Hope's Edge (written with Anna Lappé), and Democracy's Edge, and You Have the Power: Choosing Courage in a Culture of Fear.
Other notable awards include the International Studies Association's 2009 Outstanding Public Scholar Award, and in 2011, the Nonino Prize in Italy for her life's work. In 2007 Frances became a founding member of the World Future Council, based in Hamburg, Germany.
Frances makes frequent media appearances. Most notably she has been featured on the Today Show, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Fox News' Fox & Friends, WSJ.com, The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's 'The National', Frost Over the World, NPR, and the BBC, among other news outlets. Frances appears frequently as a public speaker and is a contributor to Medium and Common Dreams. She is also a contributing editor at Yes! Magazine and Solutions Journal. Articles featuring or written by Frances have also appeared in The Washington Post, O: The Oprah Magazine, Harper's, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, People, and more.
Frances is the cofounder of three organizations, including Oakland-based think tank Food First, and the Small Planet Institute. Frances and her daughter Anna Lappé also cofounded the Small Planet Fund, which channels resources to democratic social movements worldwide
Dynamic and engaging. Informative and inspiring. Frances Moore Lappé provides audiences with fresh insights, startling facts and stirring vignettes, as they focus on real solutions emerging worldwide.
Teaching and Scholarly Positions
From 1984–1985 Frances was a visiting scholar at the Institute for the Study of Social Change, at the University of California, Berkeley.
From 2000–2001 Frances was a visiting scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
In 2003, Frances taught with Dr. Vandana Shiva in Dehra Dun, India, about the roots of world hunger, sponsored by the Navdanya Research and Agricultural Demonstration Center.
In 2004, Frances taught a course on Living Democracy at Schumacher College in England.
In 2006 and 2008, Frances was a visiting professor at Suffolk University, Boston.
From 2013–2014, Frances was the Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Fellow in Environmental Studies at Colby College in Maine.
In 2021 Frances was Indiana University's Patten Lecturer
Advisory posts and Boards
Frances joined the Tellus Institute as an Associate Fellow in 2020.
In 2006 Frances was chosen as a founding councilor of the 50-member, Hamburg-based World Future Council.
Frances is also on the board of David Korten’s People-Centered Development Forum and serves on the advisory boards of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Chez Panisse Foundation, and Earth Corps.
In 2011, Frances joined the advisory board of the television series, Kiss the Cook and the Farmer Too. The 13-part series illustrates that
"We are what we eat and the ways in which we produce, prepare, and consume food not only affect our personal health and well being but also the health of our environment and our communities."
In 2013, Frances was invited by the King of Bhutan to serve on the International Working Group for a New Development Paradigm. She contributed to Bhutan’s Happiness: Towards a New Development Paradigm, submitted to the UN in December of 2013 laying out a pathway to a sustainable development paradigm to ensure planetary wellbeing.
"Some of the twentieth century’s most vibrant activist thinkers have been American women—Margaret Mead, Jeanette Rankin, Barbara Ward, Dorothy Day—who took it upon themselves to pump life into basic truths. Frances Moore Lappé is among them."
—Colman McCarthy, columnist
The Washington Post