World Food Prize Hall of Laureates


Iowa can be justifiably proud to be the home state of the late Norman Borlaug, Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the World Food Prize. Borlaug’s legacy lives on in the annual international Borlaug Dialogue, laureate awards, youth programs, and much more — all held in Iowa.


The World Food Prize Foundation is physically located downtown Des Moines in the former Des Moines Public Library (following a recent $29.8 million facelift). The wonderfully restored building is open to the public for free tours on most Tuesdays and Saturdays. (Click here for specifics.) The facility is filled with educational exhibits and artwork paying tribute not just to Borlaug but to the World Food Prize Laureates and Iowa’s agricultural and humanitarian pioneers focused on the fight against global hunger.


If you haven’t visited before, now would be a great time to go. Beginning today, visitors can view the photography of Howard G. Buffett in an exhibition titled “40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World.” The exhibit features color photographs from all over the globe in categories such as portraits, agriculture, water, and social conflict. The photographs are a truly incredible body of work.

IMG_9567Buffett has photographed people — farmers in particular — in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, India, China, Bangladesh, Sudan, Ghana, Nepal, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Romania, and many other countries.

The photographer explains the show’s title in the foreword of the exhibit guide: “Each of us has about 40 chances to accomplish our goals in life. I learned this first as a farmer because all farmers can expect to have about 40 growing seasons… Then I realized that this applies not just to agriculture, but to all of us, because we all have about 40 productive years in our careers to do the best job we can and create the change we want to see. For me, that change means ending hunger.”

Among Buffett’s images are a young girl picking cotton, women balancing loads of produce atop their heads, beautiful children in varying stages of health, families living in poverty, people of all ages toiling in fields, gun-toting militia, mothers and their children begging on the street, an Afghan farmer plowing the hard earth with oxen.

“I have met many individuals who struggle on a daily basis…and yet, many of these individuals remain determined to press onwards in life — hopeful that things will get better,” Buffett writes. “The memories etched in my mind are both troubling and encouraging, but they make up the experiences that drive me forward.”

Next month, special holiday open houses will be held at the building on Dec. 14 and 21 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The photo exhibit will be open, tours given, and entertainment provided by the Grace Church Ensemble.

The World Food Prize Hall of Laureates is located at 100 Locust Street.


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