Gussow in '79: Current AND ahead of her time

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In 1979, I was over 300 pounds, a daily pot smoker, and about to piss away my opportunity to graduate  with my college class by blowing off two courses in my last semester. Joan Gussow was already preaching a gospel of healthy, sustainable food that I would have ignored had I known about it at the time. Somehow, it makes me more appreciative of it now.

I've referenced Joan Gussow once before in a post headlined the "The mother of sustainable food," during which I had to concede I hadn't known who she was. I've seen several references to her since, but now I feel like I've really started to get her. This article from 1979, which comes to me via Jenny Huston via Ray Patel, is just a revelation, as accurate and true today as when it was published.

I could quote practically every sentence, but will paraphrase only a couple of points and hope you'll react as I did and want to devour the whole thing.

Even in 1979, the availability of food products had exploded over the previous 50 years, from 800 to more than 10,000. (I failed to find an equivalent contemporary number, but note that did report the introduction of more than 3 dozen products this month.) Very few of the new products are, say, newly developed veggies; generally, they're progressively more processed crap that nutritionists would advise against consuming.

With so many new products, nutritionists are in the position of advising people to remove things from their diets, as compared to an earlier time when they were advising the additions of, say, milk and green leafy vegetables. Asking people to do without is "battling against a well-financed thrust toward self-indulgence," Gussow wrote.

Gussow bares the absurdity of "nutrition education" by saying that it is what Big Food wants from nutritionists, because it knows that that sort of quantifying won't change behavior. Nor has it, of course — we still equate food with what Michael Pollan calls "food-like substances."

And so on. Please, go read the whole thing, to understand how little has changed, and how much still has to.

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