Berkeley front and center in "alternative" food prize nominations

June 28, 2013

In a opinion piece responding to the World Food Prize being awarded to a Monsanto executive, New York Times food writer Mark Bittman served up several alternative nominations from prominent voices, most of whom have UC Berkeley and CNR connections.

Berkeley journalism professor and food guru Michael Pollan nominated agroecology expert Miguel Altieri, a professor of environmental science, policy, and management. Altieri's work with peasant farms in Latin America has demonstrated that "impressive increases in yield can be achieved by means of crop diversification, integrated pest management, and nutrient cycling," Pollan said.

Diet for a Hot Planet author Anna Lappé, director of Food MythBusters, nominated the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, who will be the first visiting scholar at the new Berkeley Food Institute, a fledgling interdisciplinary research center led by CNR faculty. De Schutter travels around the world assessing nation-level food and hunger issues with the perspective of food as a human right.

Mother Jones food and agriculture writer Tom Philpott submits for the prize Anna’s mother, Frances Moore Lappé, who attended Berkeley, and according to interviews, was inspired here to launch her nonprofit organization Food First. “Her central insights in Diet for a Small Planet – that growing grain to feed animals for meat is grievously inefficient; that the world already produces more than enough calories and the real problem is economic inequality" have become so accepted that we forget where they came from, Philpott says.

Read Bittman's New York Times Opinionator column.
Read professor David Zilberman's Berkeley Blog essay endorsing of this year's World Food Prize decisions.

-Ann Brody Guy