Create a Diet of Locally Grown Sustainable Seasonal Foods

Joan Gussow, Ph.D. shares information on how to create a diet of locally grown sustainable seasonal foods that help you stay healthy and well fed..

| April/May 2002

Ultra cold-hardy kale makes great winter soups and is loaded with nutrition.

Ultra cold-hardy kale makes great winter soups and is loaded with nutrition.


The new Home Food department of  Grit magazine seeks to encourage based on locally grown sustainable seasonal foods.

Home Foods From the Garden

Potatoes and Pasta with Herb Paste Recipe

Home Food, our newest department, offers advice and encouragement for MOTHER readers seeking to create diets based on locally grown sustainable seasonal foods. Author Joan Gussow, Ph.D., a longtime organic gardener, is professor emerita and former chair of the Nutrition Education Program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her most recent book, based on lessons learned from moving toward self-reliance, is This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader. — MOTHER.

These are the months when spring arrives in the Northern Hemisphere, bursting brown buds into pink, blue and yellow glory, pushing asparagus into the mild air, coaxing seedling lettuces and spinach from the ground, and sending pea shoots scrambling up their netting to burst into sudden pod. Year after year, spring reliably moves us out of a darker season. Yet here at home, this spring is somehow different from all the others. It is half a year since 911 became more than an emergency phone number, but a chillingly memorable date in U.S. history. And this spring is different, not because the world changed on September 11, 2001, as has been frequently said, but because our relation to the world changed. Quite suddenly, we are part of a dangerous and unpredictable conglomeration of nations, one we had previously critiqued from behind the safety of two oceans. We live now, as someone recently wrote, in "a world vulnerable to disruption from a thousand sources."

Nowhere is our vulnerability more notable than where food is concerned. Although we could feed ourselves, we don't. The system that feeds us trades food all over the world, heedless of energy costs, heedless of the impact on local soils and ecosystems, heedless of the livelihoods of farmers who are going out of business everywhere. Much of our food now reaches us at the end of a long supply line, open to disruption at many points.

We are naive to believe we can be safe, eating at the end of this fragile global food chain. As poet-farmer Wendell Berry has written, "The time will soon come when we will not be able to remember the horrors of September 11 without remembering also the unquestioning technological and economic optimism that ended on that day." I have long supported the idea that we should relocalize our food supply. Now, several months after September 11, moving toward such a goal no longer seems an eccentric option, but a vital step to making our lives more secure.

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