|I'd like to post our interview one question at a time, because her answers are quite long and wonderful. Here's the first.
Q: You spoke about why you first came to the idea of eating local food and one thing I see in some editorials that are critical of people who eat local food is the notion that it's purely food miles and it's purely transportation that would cause someone eat local, and saving on transportation alone does not justify eating locally. Can you recap what brought you to the idea of going local.
Gussow: "I went into nutrition because I was concerned about world hunger, and I was looking at the whole "could we produce enough food." I went to all kinds of things - what was the limiting thing in food production? I finally ended up with solar energy. Everything else could be recaptured, or found, or used, or something, except energy, and therefore the limit was ultimately solar energy.
"At the time we didn't have so much of an energy shortage in general - you know, a fossil fuels shortage - and we weren't aware of it, let's put it that way, in the beginning when I first started. And then I realized how much energy was embedded in the food system in general in the way we grow food and so forth. And it wasn't just transportation at all at that point. I was just interested in the whole way energy flowed and how little attention we paid to that as nutritionists.
"And so I was looking at all these issues like exporting our high tech agriculture overseas where people were, many times, growing [food] sustainably as it was and they had too much labor and here we were exporting a machine-intensive, chemical-intensive agriculture to places that had too much labor. We were contaminating the earth, pushing chemicals on people who didn't know how to use pesticides or herbicides, we were using up precious water supplies, etc etc.
"There were all these issues about how food was being grown around the world and we didn't know anything about it. We didn't know what we were doing because we had no idea where our food was coming from. So whatever was going on where it was being grown, we didn't have a clue about. And so I decided that it was important to bring food growing close to home so that people would at least know what agriculture required, you know, top soil, farmer skills, water, solar energy, all those things it needed.
"And so that was my original motive, was to say you had to have farms around so people knew what agriculture required and could help protect the planet from high intensity agriculture (which was destroying things). And in order to know a farmer, you had to have them close to home, and in order to have them close to home, you had to eat what he would produce (or she) and so forth. So that's how I got to it.
"And I wasn't even, in the beginning - it's so interesting - I look back now - I don't even think I was aware of the problem of farmland loss and farmer loss at the time. I was just aware of the ignorance of the American people and thought this was a way to help remedy it."