Countdown to Edible Institute: An Interview with Joan Gussow

April 04, 2014

Joan Gussow on Climate Change and Where the Food Movement Is Headed

By Caroline Lange

Originally published on

The countdown to Edible Institute continues on Edible Manhattan with this interview of Joan Gussow, teacher, writer and matriarch of the local food movement. Joan gave the opening speech at the 2011 Edible Institute in Santa Barbara, and this year will be a member of the audience at our 2014 Institute here in Manhattan.

We asked her what she is looking forward to (“fruit trees — when they’re in bloom, I always think the world is wonderful”), what topics of conversation she finds powerful and where she thinks the food world is headed.

Edible Manhattan: Why are you joining us at Edible Institute?
Joan Gussow: I’m always interested in what goes on. I had been asked [to attend] before and I had given a speech. I discovered I really enjoyed it. The people were really interesting and the workshops were fun.

EM: Where is the “food world” headed?
JG: Let me put it this way. There seems to be a sort of East Coast–West Coast enthusiasm, but it is national — in Iowa and Kansas and everywhere you go, you’re finding restaurants who are interested in this. There are CSAs and farmers markets. [...] On the other hand, I read in the paper a few days ago, in section D of the Times,“Scientists Sound Alarm on Climate.” This is in the Business section, by the way, so who’s paying attention? [...] We’re living in this fantasy world where Congress won’t pass anything related to global warming because there are members that don’t believe in it. We have a railroad train coming straight at us with the headlight on and we’re saying everything is fine.

Global warming is real. It’s going to be just ghastly. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that [because of it] food prices are going to increase by 30 to 85 percent…. What we really need to wake people up to is where food is coming from. I think all of these school programs are great. As someone once said, we need to get to children early and corrupt them with a little kindness. We need to get to children early and corrupt them with real food.

Is there a food movement? Yes. But where it goes in the short term and long term depends on climate.

Continue reading the interview with Joan Gussow on Edible Manhattan here.