Yes, bread has a hero. Reading this book, I was struck by a few things… ok, a whole bunch of things. Remember when I talked about a story having a hero to stand up and cheer for? And if you have been following along, the blog posts on Ebola, and Poverty, and how I said I didn’t know what could be done to help Africa, if they weren’t willing to help themselves? Well, I think I won’t be able to wrap all that up today, but if you want to have an inkling of what might be possible, read this book. (click on cover to see more)
This is not a fiction book. This is the story of a real man, whose life was both dusty and behind-the-curtains, and yet had a huge impact not just on my country, the USA, but the entire world. I don’t remember now the conversation that got me to pick up this book – it may have been Eating the Apocalypse on According to Hoyt when I was guesting there. I think Foxfier was among those who pushed the name Norman Borlaug at me, saying I should get to know him. Thank you…
From the beginning of his life, this was just a guy who wouldn’t quit, wasn’t he? Inspiring just to read how a lad could go from expecting to leave school at 8th grade, because everyone did, to gaining post-graduate schooling. I couldn’t stop reading this book, it is as compelling as any fiction book for me. But as much as his early life was nifty, his career in agriculture and breeding wheat was what really made the man a hero.
I’d love to go on and on at length, about genetic engineeering and the exciting possibilities for agriculture that it gives us. I was thrilled and delighted with this book, with the earthy characters in it, and the vision of the future it gave me. I grew up with permaculture and intensive gardening methods, just *thinking* about what could be done makes me want to get my hands in dirt. But I will wait a bit, and finish my bookwork. Like the rackety scholar Borlaug was, it’s time for me to buckle down and get the thing finished, as his mentor scolded him.
He spent long dusty years toiling in a country not his own, giving poor children and neglected women a chance for jobs and education. He revolutionized the wheat industry. And then, to top it off, he traveled the world to end hunger in India, Pakistan, and beyond. I wish there were more men like this.
This is what the key is… not America stepping in with largesse (at least until we run out of money and patience). But teaching the world to grow their own food. There are, as you read this book, still places who do things the old way, and who react as the old farmers did to Borlaug at first.
I highly recommend the book to anyone interested not in farming, but in culture, population growth, and the future. We are slaves to our stomachs, and Norman Borlaug broke that chain for millions. Why couldn’t it be done again? I don’t see any reason why not, except… but that’s another blog post.