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Archive for April, 2011

An enlightened approach to Alzheimer Care

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A farmer, philosopher, painter, carpenter, former President, scientist….. talks about creativity

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In 1970 Joan Dye Gussow began teaching the course, Nutritional Ecology at Columbia Teachers College. It was a course she designed as she was a doctoral student, and newly appointed chair of the Nutrition Department. This course proved to be the beginning of an inquiry that “connected the dots” between the American diet, food advertising, how people spend their food dollars, agricultural systems, the landscape, and the inescapable and glorious interconnected web of life.

She is a seminal voice in support of sustainable agriculture and has influenced and inspired the legions that now strive for a sustainable food system. Locavores, Slow Foodies, dumpster divers, CSA members and more, lean on her scholarship, her insights, her passion, and her example.

Growing, Older was written after the swift death of her husband, the artist Alan Gussow. His passing happened shortly after they downsized their suburban home, to move to a river town on the Hudson River. They moved into a house they chose for the immediate view of the river and sky, and land to have a garden so they could grow their own food.

Her previous book, This Organic Life, was the first volume that chronicled putting her philosophy into action. In Growing, Older Joan shares honest reflections about the loss of her husband, juxtaposed with the work involved with maintaining the house and the garden that is repeatedly flooded by the Hudson River.

She is candid. And, she is lucky. She concludes the book acknowledging that she got what she wanted from life, and that she earned it from hard and rewarding work. Though deeply pragmatic, the book is also speckled with charm and grace.

In the chapter Bees, she quotes a conversation she had with a local beekeeper about  Colony Collapse Disorder – the dramatic  emergency brought about by the tragic disappearance  of bees; “But do you know what’s really killing the bees?…..They’re dying of unrequited love. They love what they do for us. We just don’t love them back enough.”

Her response, “What a theme for the whole planet!”is especially poignant as we strive to figure out what ARE sustainable values, and how do our feelings and attitudes about growing older, aging, and caring for older people  figure into that inquiry.

Again, thank you, Joan.

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