National Press Club

Bjerga analyzes food security in new book, "Endless Appetites"

October 18, 2011 | By Joe Motheral |

Author and former Club President Alan Bjerga

Author and former Club President Alan Bjerga

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

Alan Bjerga stood at the podium many times at National Press Club events during his tenure as president last year.

But for the first time he addressed a Club audience as an author on Oct. 17, when he introduced his new book, "Endless Appetites: How the Commodities Casino Creates Hunger and Unrest," at a Club Book Rap.

His reading of chapter one encompassed the Chicago Commodities Exchange, Ethiopia, Kenya, the rice paddies of Thailand, a rocky road to an isolated farm in Nicaragua and Tunisia, where the price of bread compared to "what it’s worth" helped catalyze the Arab Spring uprisings.

“I went on a five-day, four-continent quest for answers,” Bjerga said. "Twice in the last decade food prices have spiked and caused disturbances.”

The politics of food also plays a role in terrorism, Bjerga said, referring to countries like Somalia and organizations like Al Queda.

“Defeat terrorism, you defeat hunger; defeat hunger and you defeat terrorism,” Bjerga said.

Club President Mark Hamrick introduced Bjerga by pointing out that he had grown up on a farm in Minnesota and has been a award-winning journalist reporting on agriculture for Knight-Ridder and Bloomberg News. Bjerga's background inspired his interest and gave him a strong foundation for writing about global food security.

Bjerga's book has garnered positive reviews.

"For all those concerned about the issues of hunger in the world, this is essential reading," said former Sen. George McGovern, the 2008 World Food Prize Laureate.