Jim Bingen ’66, a professor of community, food and agriculture in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University, has been honored as a Knight in the Agricultural Order of Merit by the government of France. Established in 1883, the title recognizes those making significant contributions to the development and progress of agriculture.
Bingen, who was a political science major at UW-Eau Claire, said the honor came as a total surprise after a French television network filmed a study abroad trip he was leading on the ecology, culture and politics of food in France. Bingen had established connections with French researchers years ago when he was working in agricultural development in French-speaking Africa.
“Over time, I saw our research interests and theirs evolving toward regionalized food systems, so I set up a program to bring MSU students to study small farms in southern France producing wine and specialized cheese and meats,” he said. “Later we began bringing French students to the United States as well.”
Bingen is affiliated with the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station and is a member of the Institute for Food and Agricultural Standards and the MSU African Studies Center.