It is in a farmer’s DNA to grow crops, to bring forth new life from the soil. They include everything from the golden waves of grain rolling across the plains, to the billowing clouds of blossoming fruit trees urged on by battalions of pollinators, to the hundreds of other crops that burst forth from the land each year in what can only be described as the miracle of life.

That is what agriculture is.

But another part of a farmer’s genetic code includes a mission: To feed people. In the U.S., Europe, China, India — and thousands of other places you would struggle to find on a map — all people depend on farmers. Every one of them. Whether it’s their own patch of land or a large-scale farm in the Ukraine, U.S. or Brazil, the goal remains singular — feeding people.

You may not have heard of the World Food Prize Foundation, but in a very real sense it is one of the reasons you were able to eat today. The founder of the Food Prize, Norman Borlaugh, is a legend in agriculture. For decades he worked in the laboratories and fields of Mexico and other countries. His goal: feeding people.

In the 1960s, chatter among those “in the know” was the world population was growing so fast and so large that within a few years it would be impossible to feed everyone. It was described as a population “bomb” and was one of a procession of sky-is-falling scenarios that the popular media latch onto occasionally to scare people and sell magazines, books and points of view.

Borlaugh proved them all wrong. He developed hybrids of wheat and other food crops that multiplied their yields. The result was the Green Revolution, a renaissance of agricultural productivity that continues today.

For his efforts, Borlaugh received the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize.

Over time, the population bomb fizzled. The impossible has been made possible. The planet’s 3 billion people in 1960 not only survived but thrived. Today, the population is nearly 8 billion.

Each year the Food Prize Foundation honors a leading scientist or other person who has increased the quantity, quality or availability of food.

This year, the Food Prize went to Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted. As a researcher in Bangladesh, she led the way in developing the farming of nutrient-rich small fish to feed mothers and young children. Ponds became fish farms producing tons of nutrient-rich foods that filled the void left by shortages of other foods.

She has demonstrated in a very real way the proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish (and to raise fish) and you feed him for a lifetime.”

That is the legacy of the newest World Food prize recipient. Hundreds of millions of people around the globe will eat today as a direct result of her work.

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