Alan Bjerga is featured author at local Memorial Week events
The Motley Historical Society will be hosting a book signing in conjunction with its annual open house, held Memorial Day from 1 - 4 p.m. at Motley City Hall. Bjerga will autograph copies of his first book, “Endless Appetites,” which deals with the effects that corn, soybean and other crop prices have on world hunger. The subtitle of the book sums it up well, “How the Commodities Casino Creates Hunger and Unrest.”
Alan’s decade as a Washington D.C. journalist, including six years as agriculture reporter for Bloomberg News, his extensive traveling in Ethiopia, Kenya, Thailand and Nicaragua for research; and his local background growing up on a farm south of Motley all contribute to the book. The open house will feature exhibits of Alan’s career. Refreshments will be served.
Bjerga will also be the featured speaker at the Brainerd Area Sertoma Club’s noon meeting held at Bonanza, 14540 Dellwood Dr., Baxter, on Wednesday, May 30. The club has purchased four copies of his book which he will be autographing to be donated to local libraries. A few additional copies will also be available for sale and attendees may bring their own copies for signing. Media are welcome to attend this event and he will be available for interviews at 1 p.m. after the meeting. Those not in attendance can hear BL Broadcasting’s Community Focus interview which will play concurrently with the event.
Alan’s third event will be at the Stomping Grounds coffee house in Staples, from 4 - 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 30. Books will be available for sale and signing.
“Endless Appetites” explores global hunger and how to solve the current food crisis. The book argues that the world is at a watershed moment in the battle against hunger. More than 60 food riots have erupted worldwide from 2007 - 2009. This year a billion people may go hungry.
Bjerga, a 1991 graduate of Staples Motley High School, went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in History and English Literature at Concordia College in Moorhead, where he also edited the student newspaper, The Concordian. He earned a master’s degree in Mass Communication from the University of Minnesota, where he was the managing editor of The Minnesota Daily.
Prior to his work with the Bloomberg News, Bjerga was a reporter with the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader and The Wichita Eagle, in Kansas. In 2010, he was the president of the National Press Club and in 2010-2011 was also the president of the North American Agricultural Journalists. In 2012, he joined the faculty of Georgetown University as an adjunct instructor.
Bjerga has won numerous awards for his work in journalism.
In 2005, he won the Glenn Cunningham Award from the North American Agricultural Journalists; and in 2009, his project covering U.S. food and famine in Ethiopia was recognized by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, the North American Agricultural Journalists, the New York Press Club; and the Overseas Press Club.
Most recently, Bjerga received the “Above the Fold” award from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication. This award is given to alumni under 40 who have had outstanding career achievement.
Talking with Bjerga
Bjerga took time to answer a few questions from the Staples World recently:
Q: What inspired you to write “Endless Appetites?”
A: The idea for the book really started in 2008, when I went to Ethiopia as part of a Bloomberg series on how rising food prices were affecting people worldwide. For that story, I tracked a shipment of peas from the farm in North Dakota where it was grown to Louisiana, where it was shipped; and then to Ethiopia, where I saw it distributed to hungry villagers. After seeing that, I always wanted to examine food and the world’s poorest people in more detail. In 2010, when my publisher, John Wiley & Sons, approached me about doing a topic related to food, I already knew what I wanted to be my focus. They were willing to give my idea a chance and from there it was all about coming up with a plan and meeting a deadline.
Q: What were some of the highlights you experienced as president of the National Press Club?
A: It was an amazing year. The Press Club president meets such a wide range of people, from politicians like Mitt Romney to Bobby Braddock, a country songwriter who wrote, “He Stopped Loving Her Today” for George Jones. You also get a chance to speak out on press-freedom issues and work with universities to train the next generation of journalists.
Q: What do you enjoy the most about your career as a journalist?
A: I think what I enjoy the most is the opportunity you have to meet interesting people and do work that can matter. It’s not like that every day...like any other job it has its ups and downs and things that are frustrating. But I like to think I’ve made the most of opportunities I’ve received, like writing the book and being the Press Club president. I hope I haven’t taken anything for granted, because I’ve really been fortunate.
Bjerga’s book is available at bookstores (including Barnes & Noble) and the Internet. He will also have copies available at the book signings in Motley, Staples and Brainerd.