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The Scarlet & Black

Grinnell to host esteemed food scientist Dr. Mark McLellan


Dr. Mark McLellan, a renowned food scientist who also serves as Dean of the School of Graduate Studies at Utah State University, will give a lecture titled “A Social Construct—Food: Past, Present and Future” at 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 15 in JRC 101. The talk is sponsored by the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations and Human Rights, and will be free and open to the public.

“Students will be introduced to how we built this U.S. capability to grow food in enormous quantities and how history shaped that process,” McLellan wrote in an email to The S&B in regards to his talk.

Professor Sarah Purcell ’92, History, the director of Grinnell’s Rosenfield Program, said that students attending McLellan’s speech will have the opportunity to learn about the applications of technology in food development.

“He’s really a food technologist, so I think looking at applications of technology would be one thing people could learn,” Purcell said.

McLellan, who is also Vice President for Research at Utah State, sits as a member on the Science Board to the Food and Drug Administration. He argues that the U.S. has the most efficient world food system, which should be used to help out the entire world.

“I remain a passionate advocate for the farmer and our need increased capacity to feed the world today, and into our future,” McLellan wrote. “As a professor of Food Science, I have lectured on this subject of food security in South Africa, Australia and across the U.S.”

WorldFoodPrizeMcLellan’s talk will argue why America should take an active role in feeding the world’s poor, a more industrial view that Purcell noted is not often heard on Grinnell’s campus.

“A lot of people are focused on natural foods and I think he is someone who has done a lot of research on how technology can advance various food products and create production,” Purcell said.

In his lecture, McLellan will touch on the history of farming in the U.S., the worldwide changing population dynamics, the connection of wealth and obesity and the food riots of 2008 and 2010. He plans to conclude his speech by addressing the dilemma faced by U.S. farmers about whether to focus on obesity at home or starvation globally.

“This talk will focus heavily on a farmer[’s] perspective and leave those attending with some deep thinking about where we are heading and how American farmers are balancing multiple needs,” McLellan wrote.

The World Food Prize is an award that recognizes the achievements of individuals improving human development in regards to food. Food experts from around the world will speak about global agriculture issues in Des Moines on October 14 to 18. Additionally, speakers from the World Food Prize come to Grinnell annually as part of the College’s World Food Prize lectures, which have featured speakers with a broad range of experience in sustainability and food production.

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