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.
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.
"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.