Food News

"The Green Giant," Norman Borlaug

Newspapers 'round the country are filled this morning with obituaries, such as this one from The Washington Post, mourning Norman Borlaug, who died Saturday at the age of 95 at his Dallas home. All the obituaries more or less read the same: father of the "Green Revolution," Nobel laureate, the man who saved hundreds of millions from starving to death. The man who fed the world.

But in 2002, former Dallas Observer food critic Mark Stuertz profiled Borlaug for this cover story, which chronicled Borlaug's battles with enviroactivists who damned his efforts as "a Western public relations stunt designed to fatten the agro-industrial complex, not feed the hungry." Why? Because he advocated using chemical fertilizers and genetic alterations. Far as they're concerned, it's organic or nothing.

What does Borlaug say to those who advocate such agricultural methods? "God bless you," he says. "Use all of the organic matter you want. But don't deceive the world into believing that we can feed 6.2 billion people with organic matter alone. If we tried to do this, we would plow up all of these marginal lands, cut down much of our forests, and much of that would be productive for just a few years. Without chemical fertilizer, forget it."
Mark won a James Beard Award for his piece, which is worth a revisit this morning.