Ellen Gustafson is in my kitchen today, sharing her love for all things dippable, and her vision for a global food system.
Ellen is a sustainable food system activist and social entrepreneur. She is the founder and executive director of the 30 Project, which works towards a better global food system. Previously, Ellen has been a U.S. spokesperson for the UN World Food Program, a terrorism research reporter in the ABC News Investigative Unit, and a research associate for the Military Fellows at the Council on Foreign Relations. She has a BA in international politics from Columbia University, and is pursuing a Master’s Degree in food studies at New York University.
Why is living organic important to you?
Like many people, I am concerned about my health and the health of the planet, and I am a constantly looking for ways that I can improve both. In reading about health and the environment, it has seemed clear to me that eating food produced without pesticides and chemical fertilizers and choosing those types to use on your skin and in your home are great ways to affect positive change with my consumer dollars. I have found, over the 10 years that I have been eating organic, that I get sick less often (despite an insane travel schedule) and that I have great energy!
Some day, I hope it will be easy to get good, quality, real food everywhere. Today, making the extra effort to find organic food and shop at farmer’s markets is worth it to me, especially as an investment in a better food system.
What was your favorite food growing up?
My mom makes a delicious ratatouille (I cant believe I just spelled that right), and a great homemade salad dressing. I also loved eating string beans raw from the garden, but don’t like them as much from the grocery store.
What’s your go-to comfort food now?
All-time, favorite food: tzatziki. Full stop. And I don’t care whether or not I have something to dip into it; I’ll eat it with a spoon.
What’s the one thing in your kitchen you just couldn’t live without?
A blender!!! I love making morning smoothies—they are pretty epic. I use a bunch of organic fruits and yogurt, then sea buckthorn juice, chia seeds, bee pollen, and Green Magma. A lot of the ingredients were suggested in Dr. Perricone’s book Forever Young I think nourishing your skin from the inside out is a smart concept.
What magazine, website, book, album, or product are you most obsessed with right now?
I love GOOD magazine and National Geographic, I’m reading Four Fish by Paul Greenberg, and am really into the Mumford & Sons’ album Sigh No More right now.
What’s the most important news story today that you think we all need to pay more attention to?
The proposed cuts to the U.S. food aid budget. We already give a relatively small amount to preventing starvation, and with food prices up, the money will not go as far. Cuts will likely mean hunger deaths will rise, but so might violence and instability. I would like to bring the U.S. sustainable food community closer to the international antihunger community, because the long-term goals of access to nutritious foods for all are very aligned.
My new organization, the 30 Project, is working to bring together all stakeholders to crowd-source a long-term vision for a better global food system. I hope that in 30 years food aid will not be as necessary as it is today, and people around the world will have better local, sustainable food systems. But the reality is that 1 billion people are hungry today (along with 1 billion overweight). I don’t think we should stand by and watch people starve while we have enough food to feed people, but we do need a long-term plan for a better global food system to end both hunger and obesity.
Where do you get your news?
Twitter and The New York Times. I love Twitter; as an information consumer, I find it is a fantastic tool for gathering news from all of my favorite people, publications, and organizations. I don’t have TV, but I do sometimes see snippets of CNN in airports.