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Growing, Older: A Chronicle of Death, Life, and Vegetables Paperback – October 21, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing; 1 edition (October 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781603582926
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603582926
  • ASIN: 1603582924
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #522,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Gussow has written and taught extensively on food and politics (This Organic Life, 2001), but here she turns to a more personal subject, the period following the death of her husband of 40 years. She assumed (as did others) that she would be grief-stricken, yet she found herself able to move into the next period of life with grace and anticipation. This is due in no small part to long-term differences the two experienced (although they seem minor), and to her rededication to gardening. It would be incorrect to classify this as a guide to plant care or landscape design, however, as Gussow’s view on life and living is far too broad. She writes about removing pests from the yard and then shifts gears to discuss national food policy, share recipes for zucchini, and reminisce about her son and butterflies. She rails against humanity’s interest only in itself, yet expresses pride in her ability to still heft bags of soil and rocks. Gussow is an octogenarian who will not go gently in any direction, and certainly won’t be ignored. --Colleen Mondor

Review

Booklist-
Gussow has written and taught extensively on food and politics (This Organic Life, 2001), but here she turns to a more personal subject, the period following the death of her husband of 40 years. She assumed (as did others) that she would be grief-stricken, yet she found herself able to move into the next period of life with grace and anticipation. This is due in no small part to long-term differences the two experienced (although they seem minor), and to her rededication to gardening. It would be incorrect to classify this as a guide to plant care or landscape design, however, as Gussow's view on life and living is far too broad. She writes about removing pests from the yard and then shifts gears to discuss national food policy, share recipes for zucchini, and reminisce about her son and butterflies. She rails against humanity's interest only in itself, yet expresses pride in her ability to still heft bags of soil and rocks. Gussow is an octogenarian who will not go gently in any direction, and certainly won't be ignored.



"Once in a while, when I have an original thought, I look around and realize Joan said it first."--Michael Pollan, bestselling author of In Defense of Food, and The Omnivore's Dilemma



"In Growing, Older Joan Dye Gussow once again proves herself the consummate writer, gardener, cook, professor and-it turns out-philosopher, too. This is a memoir about death, but much like Joan herself, it's brimming with life. A vivid, unflinching, and unexpected self-portrait."--Dan Barber, chef and co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns



"Joan Gussow provides us with delicious inspiration by picking from her garden and cooking seasonally. She is an enlightened nutritionist who understands that our health and the health of the planet begin with stewardship of the earth!"--Alice Waters co-owner of Chez Panisse and author of Chez Panisse Cooking and The Art of Simple Food.



Library Journal-

Gussow (Mary Swartz Rose Professor Emerita & former chair, nutrition dept., Columbia Univ. Teachers Coll.; This Organic Life invites readers into her life as a widow through journal entries spanning almost ten years. What's fascinating is that she found herself not lonely but content and fulfilled through her extensive garden and the animals that visited. She shares lessons of self-reliance and self-control in potatoes' tendency to stay put, bees' role in the food chain, and her own tenacity to cherish nature. Her compilation of life experiences would primarily interest gardeners or environmentalists.

Gussow (Mary Swartz Rose Professor Emerita & former chair, nutrition dept., Columbia Univ. Teachers Coll.; "This Organic Life" invites readers into her life as a widow through journal entries spanning almost ten years. What's fascinating is that she found herself not lonely but content and fulfilled through her extensive garden and the animals that visited. She shares lessons of self-reliance and self-control in potatoes' tendency to stay put, bees' role in the food chain, and her own tenacity to cherish nature. Her compilation of life experiences would primarily interest gardeners or environmentalists. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information. - See more at: http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/growing_older:paperback/reviews#sthash.DWr7ABY7.dpuf

More About the Author

Joan Dye Gussow, EdD, is Mary Swartz Rose Professor emerita and former chair of the Nutrition Education Program at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she has been a long-time analyst and critic of the U.S. food system. In her classic 1978 book The Feeding Web: Issues in Nutritional Ecology, which tracked the environmental hazards of an increasingly globalizing food system, she foreshadowed by several decades the current interest in relocalizing the food supply.

Her subsequent books include The Nutrition Debate (1986), Chicken Little, Tomato Sauce and Agriculture (1991), and This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader (2001), the latter based on the lessons learned from decades of working toward growing her own, Her 2010 book, Growing, Older, is as it's subtitle suggests, a garden-based collection of "reflections on death, life and vegetables".

Born in 1928 in Alhambra, California, Gussow grew up in a California landscape dominated by clear skies, orange groves and lines of eucalyptus trees. She graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, California in 1950, with a BA (pre-medical) and moved east to New York City. After seven years as a researcher at Time Magazine and five years as a suburban wife and mother, she returned to school to earn an M.Ed and an Ed.D. in Nutrition Education from Columbia's Teachers College.

Early in her career she managed to scandalize significant portions of her chosen profession by testifying to a Congressional Committee about the poor quality of the foods advertised to children on television; her willingness to tackle difficult topics did not abate during her 40 some years in the field.

During her career she has served in a number of capacities for various public, private, and governmental organizations, including chairing the Boards of the National Gardening Association, the Society for Nutrition Education, the Jesse Smith Noyes Foundation, and Just Food, serving two terms on the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences, a term on the FDA's Food Advisory Committee and a term on the National Organic Standards Board.

In addition to her books, she has also produced a variety of articles on food-related topics. Gussow currently lives, writes, and grows organic vegetables on the west bank of the Hudson River. She is at work on a new book based on the complete destruction and miraculous resurrection of her beloved garden. Her tentative title: "Starting Over at 81".

Customer Reviews

Joan Dye Gussow is like the May Sarton of gardening.
J-J-J-Jinx
She has much to teach us about the history and politics of food in the United States, as well as being a good steward of our surroundings.
Charlene Rubush
At that point I decided I did not like the book very much but doggedly ploughed on.
Patricia

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Story Circle Book Reviews on October 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
Joan Gussow's new collection of personal essays, Growing, Older, is a free-ranging exploration of a wide number of issues: the loss of her husband of forty years and her reassessment of her marriage; her experiences of growing her own food in the garden of her Hudson River home; her concerns about climate change and resource depletion; and her thoughts about entering into her ninth decade. Gussow knows what she's talking about, for she developed the nationally acclaimed Nutritional Ecology program at Columbia Teachers College and was one of the earliest writers to speak out about the dangers of industrialized agriculture (Chicken Little, Tomato Sauce, and Agriculture, 1991)--a subject that has been recently popularized by the likes of Michael Pollan, Paul Ford, and Barbara Kingsolver. Growing, Older is a lively book, energized by Gussow's straightforward, often blunt observations that are by turns witty, argumentative, cranky, and funny--but always interesting, enlightening, and provocative.

The collection opens with the death of Gussow's husband, her reaction to his loss (she "simply didn't miss him"), and her difficulty in sharing this truth with people who asked how she felt. What she actually felt was a "strange liberation," she says, "from things I hadn't known I was imprisoned by." (Some readers may find this measure of her marriage startling and perhaps even uncaring, but it is honest, direct, and authentic, qualities we value in a memoir, and which are characteristic of all Gussow's writing.) But if she is not devastated by her husband's death, there are other issues that do bring her nearly to despair: the frenzied consumerism of our culture, the media's "furious silence" about peak oil, the hidden costs and the obvious vulnerabilities of our food system, and climate change.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By a reader VINE VOICE on October 4, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A few weeks after the author's husband dies of cancer she finds herself skipping down the street on a beautiful May morning. Surprised that she can be happy so soon after losing him, she proceeds to justify it by trashing him in the next few chapters - he was a show off, shallow, not sensitive to the "ills of the planet" like she was - "he just didn't get it". He was a successful and talented artist but she dwells on his faults even to criticizing the way he died (of cancer) "with what appeared to be an utter denial of either curiosity or open fear, only an irresistible need to perform..." Some might admire her honesty but to me it seemed needlessly cruel to share these thoughts so publicly.

After that beginning, she writes mostly about nature, the environment, her garden and some about getting older. I did enjoy certain chapters very much, especially the chapter on butterflies and I agreed with the author's criticisms of travelers who in the act of rushing to see remote areas of unspoiled natural beauty undermine the very thing that makes such areas special. She worries at length about global warming but mostly she worries about her garden on the banks of the Hudson River which floods repeatedly. Gussow says she's trying hard to pay close attention (to the flooding) "so as to extract the meaning of what happens to my tiny piece of the planet." It seems to me the meaning of the endless flooding (which becomes tedious to read about) is that a garden was not meant to be planted there. For an avowed environmentalist to be so determined to work against nature rather than with it, seems strange.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Bedway on November 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
Joan Gussow has been called an "indomitable reclaimer," and here she writes of reclaiming her very self after the death of her husband of 40 years. Growing, Older leads you down many surprising philosophical paths, most of them leading back to her beloved 36-by-100-foot, life-sustaining garden by the ever-flooding Hudson River. We all must discover what will nurture and sustain us in the late decades of life, and Gussow's book offers necessary wisdom, humor and insight for the journey. "Hope is the lesson Nature keeps teaching me," Gussow writes. "She keeps producing. She recovers. She creates beauty out of loss."
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia Burke on October 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
Their is a passage in this book about cosmetic surgery that's worth the price of the whole book. It's so funny and right on, that I screamed with laughter. Ms Gussow's particular gift is the capacity to write about deadly serious subjects with the lightest touch imaginable. She's the real deal when it comes to speaking out about how we grow our food, how we treat the planet in the process and where we might be heading if we don't wake up pretty damned soon. And all this gets delivered in the most delicious way. For those who have read THIS ORGANIC LIFE (also written by Gussow) and marveled at her tenacity while growing her own food on the banks of the Hudson River, will be absolutely enthralled by this installment of floods, skunks, muskrats, bees, potatoes, mud, etc, etc, etc, and she's 80 years old. Her book is so beautifully written that I did not want it to end. She's my heroine.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Susan VINE VOICE on March 9, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I chose this book because I recently lost my husband of 41+ years to ALS ( Lou Gehrigs Disease) and thought it might be helpful. His deth brought with it many thoughts and concerns of my own mortality.
WOW !! was all I could say when I started to read. The author described to a T my own situation/experience regarding my feelings after my husband died. The eerie thing about it was our husbands had the same name, even spelled the same!! Her husband was much like mine and our relationships much alike. For me it was a relief to know there was someone else that had felt the same way I did after his death. The author is an inspiration to anyone heading down the path of aging. I have always been an avid gardener, it has always been a great source of accomplishmewnt and theraputic, like the author I will engage in it until I can no longer lift a trowel! I am one of those people that will never stop growing, never stop doing what I do .As a widow we find ways to get things done , we make some adjustments along the way but find we can survive just fine. This book is over flowing with life and what makes it so wonderful even after we lose our mate. She has passed along much inspiring wisdom that is good for the young and old!
Highly recommend. Thank you Joan Dye Gussow for a truely wonderful book.
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