World Food Prize Hall of Laureates – Des Moines, Iowa - Gastro Obscura
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Des Moines, Iowa

World Food Prize Hall of Laureates

The headquarters of the prestigious World Food Prize celebrates the heroes in the fight against hunger, has no cafeteria. 

While it has very little to do with cooking, the World Food Prize is awarded to pioneering scientists and engineers who have contributed to the effort to feed the planet, and each of these winning visionaries is celebrated in the World Food Prize’s very own Hall of Laureates located in Des Moines, Iowa, the self-proclaimed capitol of the fight against hunger. 

The World Food Prize was developed in 1987 by Dr. Norman Borlaug after the Nobel committee rejected his idea of developing an award for contributions to the fight against hunger. A Nobel laureate himself, Borlaug forged ahead without the blessing of the Nobel organization, and each year since its inception, the World Food Prize has been given to people who have made amazing strides in the effort to feed the planet. The award has been given for innovations such as hybrid crops that produce twice the yearly yield, insect control systems that inhibit harmful, parasitic species, and methods of reinvigorating otherwise arid soil for planting.  

Each of the winners of the prize is memorialized within the World Food Prizes headquarters, with a portrait and plaque heralding their achievements. The grand building takes great care to tell a story within each of its rooms, from the portrait room, to an entire floor of interactive exhibits detailing the struggle of world hunger, to the entrance hall which features a huge stained glass window devoted to Borlaug, giving the whole site the feeling of a church devoted to the cause that the good doctor started. Also of note is the massive mural that nearly covers the walls of one room and brings to light the history of Des Moines from the stone age to the 20th century. 

The Hall of Laureates accentuates the importance of the World Food Prize by putting it in the context of a storied institution on par with the Nobel prize with an almost Masonic devotion to the a cause. However even after all of the talk of food and hunger contained within, the site does not provide a cafe or cafeteria. Pack a lunch.