International in Iowa
I have spent my entire life in Iowa, a state largely known for its agriculture. However, I knew very little about food policy or agriculture for much of my life. I attended an urban high school that didn’t have FFA or 4-H. I had always assumed agriculture was a distinctly rural part of life in Iowa. Even as I made choices on what to eat each day, I rarely took the time to consider where my food came from and the work it took to prepare it.
I started studying international relations and economics at Drake University in 2015. At the time, I considered the only place to work in international policy was in Washington, D.C. I never imagined the distinctly global impact my home state had. However, my perspective changed during my internship at the World Food Prize during my second year of college.
During my semester as a George Washington Carver intern, I had the opportunity to work with the youth education team planning state youth institutes around the country and preparing for the Global Youth Institute, which takes place during the same week as the Borlaug Dialogue.
It was awe-inspiring to see how passionate students were from all around the country and world about issues of food security and agricultural policy. Students completed projects focusing on any number of areas, oftentimes in fields I never realized were integral to food policy, from biotechnology to trade to infrastructure.
I slowly began to recognize just how integral food is to international affairs and global trade. Food is a major part of every person’s daily life. International policy can affect our food and caloric intake, but so too can food impact international policy. Declines in crop yields can push an entire national economy towards decline. High rates of child malnutrition can stunt a population for generations, hindering necessary development and growth.
Since my internship at the World Food Prize two years ago, I have completed a number of projects targeting food insecurity, written research papers and interned at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, D.C. this past summer. Food policy has become a great passion for me and I look forward to a career in the field.
My internship at the World Food Prize opened my eyes to how pervasive decisions in food policy are. Decisions at the international level, even if not directly related to food or agriculture, usually inevitably link back to food in some way. For example, tariffs between China and the United States have already had massive impacts on agricultural production and opportunities for trade. It is predicted that food prices may increase if these tariffs remain in place.
Through my position at the World Food Prize, I came to realize the enormous impact food has on the entire world. Furthermore, I now have even greater respect and admiration for the small, rural state of Iowa that I have called home for the past two decades.