Joan Dye Gussow

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Joan Dye Gussow (born 1928) is a professor, author, food policy expert, environmentalist and gardener. The New York Times has called her the "matriarch of the eat-locally-think-globally food movement."[1]


Born in 1928 in Alhambra, California, Gussow grew up in a California landscape dominated by clear skies, orange groves, peach orchards and lines of eucalyptus trees.[2] She graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, California in 1950, with a BA (pre-medical) and moved east to New York City. In 1956, she married Alan Gussow (1931–1997).[2] Gussow spent seven years as a researcher at Time Magazine and five years as a suburban wife and mother. After becoming a researcher at Yeshiva’s Graduate School of Education, she returned to school in 1969 to earn an M.Ed and an Ed. D. in Nutrition Education from Columbia's Teachers College.[2][3] Shortly after graduating, she was hired by Teachers College to become the chair of the nutrition department, creating the legendary course, Nutritional Ecology.[2][4]

In 1971, she testified in front of a Congressional Committee about the poor quality of the foods advertised to children on television. Her testimony was also published in the Journal of Nutrition Education scandalizing significant portions of her chosen profession.[2]

She has served in a number of capacities for various public, private, and governmental organizations, including chairing the Boards of the National Gardening Association, the Society for Nutrition Education, the Jesse Smith Noyes Foundation, Rockland Farm Alliance and Just Food, serving two terms on the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences, a term on the FDA's Food Advisory Committee and a term on the National Organic Standards Board.[5]

Joan Dye Gussow, EdD, is the first Mary Swartz Rose Professor emerita and former chair of the Nutrition Education Program at Teachers College, Columbia University,[6][7] where she has been a long-time analyst and critic of the U.S. food system. In her classic 1978 book The Feeding Web: Issues in Nutritional Ecology, which tracked the environmental hazards of an increasingly globalizing food system, she foreshadowed by several decades the current interest in relocalizing the food supply. This manifesto has also made her one of the most influential people in food thinking. She has influenced the likes of Barbara Kingsolver, Michael Pollan, and Marion Nestle.[2]

Her subsequent books include The Nutrition Debate (1986), Chicken Little, Tomato Sauce and Agriculture (1991), and This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader (2001), the latter based on the lessons learned from transitioning to growing virtually all of her own food at the home she shared with her husband in Piermont, New York; her husband, Alan, died while she was writing the book. Her 2010 book, Growing, Older, is as its subtitle suggests, a garden-based collection of “reflections on death, life and vegetables”.[8]

In addition to her books, she has also produced a variety of articles on food-related topics. Gussow currently lives, writes, and grows organic vegetables on the west bank of the Hudson River.[1][9] She is at work on a new book based on the complete destruction and miraculous resurrection of her beloved garden. Her tentative title: “Starting Over at 81”.



  • The Feeding Web: Issues in Nutritional Ecology. Berkley: Bull Pub Co. June 1978. ISBN 978-0915950157.
  • The Nutrition Debate: Sorting Out Some Answers. Berkley: Bull Publishing Company. 1986. ISBN 978-0915950669
  • Chicken Little, Tomato Sauce and Agriculture: Who Will Produce Tomorrow's Food? Bootstrap Press. 1991. ISBN 978-0942850321
  • This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader. Chelsea Green Publishing. 2002. ISBN 978-1931498241.
  • Growing, Older: A Chronicle of Death, Life, and Vegetables. Chelsea Green Publishing. 2010. ISBN 978-1603582926.



  1. ^ a b Raver, Anne (August 18, 2010). "Out of the Loss of a Garden, Another Life Lesson". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Joan Gussow, Teacher of Teachers | Edible Manhattan". Retrieved 2015-10-03.
  3. ^ Raver, Anne (2010-08-18). "Joan Dye Gussow's New Garden". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-10-03.
  4. ^ "Organic | Joan Dye Gussow, Francesco Mastalia, Gail Buckland, Zakary Pelaccio, Jean-Paul Courtens, Ken Greene | Art and Food Series Event". Retrieved 2015-10-03.
  5. ^ "Rockland Farm Alliance: Officers & Board of Directors". Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  6. ^ "Teachers College - Columbia University: Faculty". Retrieved 2011-03-30.
  7. ^ "Inaugural Lecture of Joan Dye Gussow as Mary Swartz Rose Professor of Nutrition and Education" (PDF). May 3, 1988. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  8. ^ "Growing, Older by Joan Dye Gussow". Chelsea Green. 2010-10-14. Retrieved 2011-03-30.
  9. ^ " | Joan's Garden". 2011-03-17. Retrieved 2011-03-30.

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