Marion Nestle Remembers a Lasting Legacy


Memories of Oldways?  Mine ­go back to 1990 when Greg Drescher invited me to speak at an Oldways conference on traditional diets in Los Angeles.  That’s where I met Dun Gifford, Nancy Jenkins, and many other people who have been an important part of my life ever since.


For the next six years, I was deeply involved with Oldways.  I was in Hawaii for the launch of the Chefs Collaborative in 1993, co-chaired (with Walt Willett) the first Oldways conference on Mediterranean diets later that year, and edited the papers presented at that conference for the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1995.

I was lucky enough to go on many of the conference trips—to Spain, Italy, Tunisia, Morocco, Argentina, and Crete.  These were fabulous, of course, not only because of the gorgeous places with wonderful food, but also because of the extraordinary collection of people who went on them—the chefs, restaurateurs, food writers, and fellow academics who taught me so much about where we were, why we were there, what was special about the food, and why we needed to do everything we could to preserve those traditions against the onslaught of industrial food.

In 1996, when another school at NYU ran off with one of our department’s programs, I had learned my Oldways lessons well and knew exactly what to do.  My department created undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral programs in Food Studies.  The rest, as they say, is history.  I’m happy to credit Oldways for the inspiration for Food Studies.  Then, our program was almost unique.  Today such programs flourish in dozens of American universities.

I consider my work at NYU to be part of Oldways’ lasting legacy. 

-Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at NYU.

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