The Matriarch: Joan Dye Gussow, Food Policy Expert

By Francesco Mastalia / Photography By Francesco Mastalia | May 15, 2017
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Food policy expert, Joan Dye Gussow, has been educating eaters in the Hudson Valley for years.
Gussow knows a thing or two about food policy, as she advocated for it in her testimony to Congress early in her career.

For nearly half a century Joan Dye Gussow has been an outspoken critic and analyst of our industrial food system. Known as the matriarch of the local food movement, Joan talks about the importance of eating locally and seasonally, and the effects the American diet is having on our health and the health of the environment.

“Early in my career, I testified to Congress about the awfulness of food advertising to children. When my testimony was published I was just terrified. I was very new in the field; I wasn’t a doctor yet, and I didn’t have a degree, I was a student, an old student. So I pushed the panic button and waited for the other shoe to drop. In the end, I got tremendous support from the professionals in the field. “Ultimately, I was extraordinarily lucky, because I was made chair of the department at Columbia University Teachers College, and then it was very hard for people—even the guys in the profession who really wanted to get me out had to acknowledge, ‘Well, she can’t be totally crazy, Columbia made her department chair.’”

“All these decades later, I think it’s very exciting what’s going on in the Hudson Valley. It’s fantastic that farming is being so revived and honored, and there are so many chefs using local food.”

Joan Dye Gussow | Her Book

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