Tuesday, January 18, 2022

How daughter Anna helped Frances Moore Lappe destroy her life's work

We've long been fans of Frances Moore Lappe's DIET FOR A SMALL PLANET.  Then we made the mistake of reading the 50th anniversary edition that was published last September.  We'd ignored it until Trina began writing about it.  We'll include her last piece on the book in a moment but she and C.I. are correct, this edition is a repudiation of Frances' entire work.

We get it.  She's old.  She's thinking of dying.  Daughter Anna needs a job, let's turn the franchise over to her.

No, let's don't.

Anna's an idiot who doesn't understand mom's work and makes that clear in the recipes that she (Anna) selected for this awful edition.

The whole point of DIET FOR A SMALL PLANET (until the 50th edition) was that you can eat healthy, you can feed your family healthy meals.  You can get protein without meat.  You can eat healthy.

The recipes in the 20th anniversary edition made that clear.  Want to make healthy bread?  Easy Mexican Pan Bread (beans and cornmeal are among the ingredients), Whole Wheat Quick Bread, Jenny's Tofu Corn Bread, No Wait Wheat-Oat Bread, Quick and Easy Pumpernickel, Wheat-Soy-Sesame Bread, Triti-Casserole Bread and Boston Brown Bread -- all built around healthy ingredients.

In the 50th edition?  One bread recipe gets three pages.  It's the only real bread recipe (ginger bread doesn't count).  Why does it need three pages?  To let you know what THE NEW YORK TIMES said about it and other nonsense.  What are the non-optional ingredients?  Salt, yeast and all purpose flour.  Yes, this is white bread.  Would you have ever expected garbage bread in a Frances Moore Lappe book?  In previous versions, she offered recipes for bread in which she boasted only two slices of the bread would provide you with 1/5 of the protein you needed for the day.  This garbage bread that Anna's promoting?  No nutritional value at all.

Well Frances was trying to make it clear that you could do a meal for a family and do it quickly.  So this new garbage bread recipe, it's quick right?


You start out by mixing the ingredients.  Then you set aside..  For 18 hours.  18 hours.

Then you're going to kneed the dough twice and then give it 15 minutes to rise.

Guess what?  You're not done yet.

You're going to roll it into a ball.  And cover it for two hours.

You're then going to bake it in the oven -- covered -- for 30 minutes.

Then bake for another 20 to 30 minutes.

Then let cool for 30 minutes.

Wow.  What working mom or dad has the time for that garbage bread recipe.

At least 21 hours and 45 minutes to make that bread?

Anna Lappe is one stupid idiot.  And she's destroying her mother's work by telling readers to spend almost 22 hours making garbage bread that has no nutritional value.  You might as well be serving your family Wonder Bread.  

As C.I. and Trina have noted, the recipes in this edition are a complete repudiation of Frances Moore Lappe's life's work.  Shameful.  We could do this over and over, by the way.  We could pick any dish at random from the 50th edition and show you how it takes too much time and provides too little nutrition.  

Here's Trina's review:

A bad Diet for a Small Planet in the Kitchen

Frances Moore Lappe's Diet for a Small Planet is in its 50th edition which came out last September.  I hate this book.  That's going to be shocking to readers of this site because until this edition was published, DfaSP was my favorite book and one that I recommended over and over and referenced all the time -- in real life and here at this site.

What changed?

The arguments she's long made about sustainability and access are stronger than ever.  It's just her recipes this edition that are both crap and undermining of everything she's arguing.

C.I. shared some thoughts in Friday' morning's snapshot and noted that she hoped she wasn't stepping on my toes?  Not at all.  Her remarks clarified a lot of what bothered me about this book.

I am a registered nurse.  I do know a thing or two about health.  This book's recipes aren't about health.  And they certainly aren't about working mothers trying to feed their families.  It's a bunch of crap.  I think it might have happened because Frances is trying to turn the franchise over to her daughter.  There's a story in the lead up to the recipes where someone's friend (daughter Anna?) is at a food eatery where you make your own order and comes up with all these vegetables and the wait staff asks if she wants some protein and the friend, we are told, laughs through her mask and I didn't find the story humorous or charming.  I found it offensive.  Someone is working for a living, they're working at an eatery that tries to offer healthy foods and the author wants to make fun of them?  

That's everything that's wrong with this update.  

As C.I. noted, it's frou-frou garbage.  I'm not a working mother now.  I'm a working grandmother.  I checked with my grandkids, they don't want these new recipes.

In the original book, Frances was taking dishes -- like enchiladas -- and building on them, redoing them so that they could be healthy and even meatless.  And it worked.  You could make these meals and your kids would eat.

This garbage?  No.

And C.I.'s right about the grocery deserts.  The original book understood that way our society was set up and how you needed to be aware that some people had limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables because they lived in areas underserved by grocery stores.

This book doesn't grasp that at all and thinks you can get this frou-frou ingredient and that one at your average grocery store when, no, you can't.  

Barbara Kingsolver, years ago, made an important comment to the I'm-too-cool-for-school crowd when they were putting down canned vegetables.  Canned vegetables travel with less expense than do fresh ones -- fresh ones can require refrigeration and make other demands.  You should be local and produce and what is in season.  If you care about minimizing your impact on the environment, that's what you should do.  This book has no grasp of that reality.  None at all.

There's a bread recipe.  That has no nutritional value.  That uses all purpose flour and has no nutritional value or health benefit.  But, hey, an NYC chef's gotten famous off the recipe so let's include it.

Time and again, the recipes are useless.  Working mothers aren't helped with recipes that kids are not going to want to eat.  The book could have done cauliflower recipes where you cooked them with the same sauce as chicken wings.  That would have worked as a recipe kids would be interested in.

This reads like recipes for Carrie Bradshaw in the 90s -- at a time when even Sarah Jessica Parker knows that Carrie is out of touch and has to be updated.  

The recpies truly are, as C.I. noted, a repudiation of the books' emssage and core.


This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday:







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