A reporter at the Wall Street Journal for 30 years, 20 of those as a foreign correspondent based in Europe and Africa, Roger Thurow has reported on some of the greatest triumphs and worst tragedies of his generation. It was not until 2003 while covering the famine in Ethiopia that he experienced an epiphany that would completely change his life.
While gathering background information at the World Food Program’s Ethiopian headquarters before going into the hunger fields, Thurow received a warning of sorts from one of the aides who told him, “Looking into the eyes of the hungry becomes a disease of the soul.” The next day, while looking into the eyes of those who were starving, Thurow immediately understood what the aide had meant. No one should ever have to die from hunger. He remembered the verses of scripture from the book of Matthew that he had learned as a child. “I was hungry and you gave me food…what you did to the least of these my brethren, you did unto me.” And in that moment, he committed himself to doing what he could to end global hunger.
Before the year was out, Thurow and colleague Scott Kilman, the Journal’s chief agricultural correspondent, were collaborating on a series of articles on the African famine. The series was later chosen as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize on International Reporting.
The two journalists teamed up again to write Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty. Released in 2009, the book details how in just a few decades, Western policies stripped Africa of the ability to feed her own. Enough earned its authors the Action Against Hunger Humanitarian Award and the Harry Chapin World Hunger Year (WHY) book award. It was also a finalist in the New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.
But even with the awards, Enough was not enough to ease Thurow’s newly diseased soul. In 2010, he resigned his position at the Wall Street Journal and accepted a post as Senior Fellow for Global Agriculture and Food Policy with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs where he remains today, writing and speaking about global hunger and food security issues for a number of outlets and platforms.
Thurow graduated from the University of Iowa in 1979. He and his wife Anne live in the Chicago area and are the parents of two children, Brian and Aishling, both now in college. When not working, Thurow is a baseball fan and particularly enjoys watching the Chicago Cubs to, as he jokes, “put things in perspective.”