TC’s Joan Gussow Featured in Michael Pollan PBS Film Airing on December 30th | Teachers College Columbia University

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TC's Joan Gussow Featured in Michael Pollan PBS Film Airing on December 30th


Teachers College’s great nutrition educator Joan Gussow (Ed.D. ’75), known as “the matriarch of the eat-locally-think-globally food movement,” appears in the new film, “In Defense of Food,” which will premiere Wednesday, December 30, at 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS. Based on the author Michael Pollan’s pathbreaking book with the same title about healthy eating, the film follows Pollan on a fascinating journey to answer the question:  What should I eat to be healthy?

Busting myths and misconceptions, “In Defense of Food” reveals how common sense and old-fashioned wisdom can help us rediscover the pleasures of eating and at the same time reduce our risks of falling victim to diet-related diseases—principles which Gussow, Mary Swartz Rose Professor Emerita of Nutrition & Education, has championed for more than 40 years. The Nutritional Ecology Scholarship at TC, where the study of nutrition began, honors Gussow by supporting master’s or doctoral students in the Nutrition Program with a demonstrated interest in studying the links between food, nutrition and ecology.

In the film, Pollan shows how a combination of faulty nutrition science and deceptive marketing practices have encouraged us to replace real food with scientifically engineered “food-like substances.” He elaborates on the seven-word solution to our dietary woes he offers in his book: “Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.” (Pollan has publicly attributed the first part of that advice – “eat food” – to Gussow.)

In related work, TC’s Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education and Policy at Teachers College is creating a comprehensive education program for middle school students that can be taught in connection with “In Defense of Food.” The curriculum will be posted shortly to the “In Defense of Food” website.   In addition, an extensive outreach program has been designed to help food and health organizations and community groups use the film to spark deeper engagement and action in support of healthier homes, schools and communities.

The Tisch Center curriculum uses activities and film clips to give young people aged 10 to 14 new tools to think critically about food. Students prepare delicious recipes, create performance poetry and participate in peer-to-peer learning to investigate the question, “What should I eat to be healthy?”

“This curriculum is not only informative and effective, but also a great deal of fun, with lots of imaginative, enjoyable exercises and recipes for real food dishes for kids to make themselves,” Pollan said. “I am delighted to see my work give rise to this exciting new project. I think it can really make a difference in young people’s lives.”


Published Thursday, Dec 24, 2015

TC Professor Emerita Joan Gussow
TC Professor Emerita Joan GussowTC Professor Emerita Joan Gussow