Now Playing

Book Report

A San Diego author dishes on how we should eat, and save the world while we're at it.

Ellen Gustafson

When Ellen Gustafson got married to her naval officer husband in Annapolis, she enlisted a farmer to grow the herbs and veggies for the reception, and the fish served for dinner was line-caught at the bachelor party. "It was true to form," says Gustafson, a walk-the-talk food policy wonk—she's a former U.S. spokesperson for the United Nations World Food Program whose TEDx talk on sustainability went viral. That propelled her latest love: her first book, We the Eaters: If We Change Dinner, We Can Change the World, which was just published by Rodale Press. Gustafson is joining a chorus of authors who tout home-cooked dinners made with local ingredients and pooh-pooh products with added sugar. It's all ammo to take down mega-food giants. Preachy? Sure. Pollyanna? A tad. But thankfully, this 34-year-old—whose lectures are laden with swear words on this afternoon—doesn't take herself too seriously. "We hiked Kilimanjaro on our honeymoon. I had been too busy breaking in my Jimmy Choos to break in my hiking boots. I f---ing cried on the second day," she laughs. Gustafson's first glare of the spotlight was eight years ago with the FEED Foundation and its line of eco-chic bags, launched with her then-roommate and co-founder Lauren Bush Lauren, whom she met at the U.N. "I was the nerd. She was the celebrity ambassador," says the preppy Philadelphia native who lives with her husband in the La Playa neighborhood of Point Loma, where they walk to local faves like Old Venice. Keeping up with her missions is like keeping up with the Kardashians—except it's actually good for you. And cerebral. Among her six projects, there's also The Apron Project, which sells stylish aprons made of sustainable materials using fair labor around the world (including Rwanda and San Diego.) "I came up with this mantra, 'Occupy your kitchen,' and the aprons were a natural extension of that," says Gustafson, tying one around her waist. "I think the apron is a way to bring back feminism."

Gustafson's Hots
Uniforms, True Food Kitchen, S.D.'s sustainable coffee scene, Specialty Produce's walk-in cooler (even though it's freezing in there!), the Little Italy Mercato

Gustafson's Nots
The drought, fake tans, S.D. driving culture, the lack of water taxis and ferries