Food has become an increasingly important issue facing public policy and consumer decisions. From climate change to deforestation and genetically-modified seeds to agricultural run-offs, we are all impacted by the basics—food and water.
That’s where Betty Fussell gets to the root of the problem—where our food comes from, how it got there and what does it really take to grow it. Her 50-year career of chronicling food has brought her to a new frontier in her latest acclaimed book, Raising Steaks: The Life and Times of American Beef, which was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Book Award and a finalist for literary food writing from the International Association of Culinary Professionals Cookbook Award.
Noted food author and eco-celebrity Michael Pollan calls Raising Steaks “A celebration and an elegy for a uniquely American Dream. Raising Steaks takes an unflinching look at the ethical and environmental implications of modern meat…yet leaves us with a powerful hankering for a thick T-bone grilled rare.”
Knowing what’s the beef about beef follows her natural path blazed in her book, The Story of Corn, which won the IACP’s Jane Grigson Award for Scholarship.
Publisher’s Weekly says, “As food, fertility symbol, genetic marvel, and subject of ancient myths, corn is one of the food staples and a truly American food source. Fussell’s work is so absorbing and well-written.” Library Weekly says, “Anyone reading this book will never pass a cornfield again in quite the same way.”
A prolific historian and author, Fussell’s essays on food have appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Holiday, Travel & Leisure, Connoisseur, Journal of Gastronomy, Wine and Food, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Saveur, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, and Metropolitan Home.
She is a recipient of the Silver Spoon Award from Food Arts Magazine for which she has long been a contributing expert. In 2007, she won a James Beard Foundation Award for Journalism for “American Prime,” in Saveur’s Steak Issue. In 2010, she was honored by the Culinary Historians of New York with the prized Amelia Award named for Amelia Simmons, author of the first cookbook written in America in 1796.
You can find Fussell in the most unusual places. Lecturing at the National Arts Club on the topic, “Steak as American Icon: Where Myth and History Collide,” a judge of bar-b-que at “Meatopia”—an anointed “Woodstock of Edible Animals,” conducting a food writing workshop—Word of Mouth—in Mexico, and heading a panel discussion for the American Grassfed Association’s annual conference.
She has lectured at museums, universities, cooking schools, food & wine associations, state fairs, corn festivals and steak workshops all over the country in such disparate locales as the Natural History Museum of the Smithsonian, Cornell University, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Princeton University Art Museum, the New York Historical Society, the French Culinary Institute, the Culinary Institute of America and Dartmouth College.
A native of Southern California, Fussell received her PhD at Rutgers University and has taught at Columbia University. She now resides in Montecito, CA.