THAT GIRL: Ellen Gustafson




We should all be so lucky to spend our Saturday mornings like Ellen Gustafson, founder of the 30 Project, a think and do tank committed to changing the global food system and agro activist: yoga session followed by a trip to the local farmer’s market where a bounty of fresh, local ingredients are procured to make a delicious, direct-to-table sumptuous brunch. This is followed, presumably, by a satisfying nap. Gutafson’s work on hunger, obesity, and agriculture as first part of the UN World Food Program (WFP) where she partnered with Lauren Bush to create the eco-chic reusable FEED bags (proceeds of the bags directly contribute to a variety of global anti-hunger programs) and later as the visionary behind the 30 Project has made her a leading voice and advocate for changing the way we think about, understand, consume, and use food products. “We’ve lost some of the ritual that accompanies food in our daily lives,” says Gustafson. “That’s why the best part of my day is preparing dinner; I really love the experience of preparing a meal, of finding those touches like cloth napkins or candles to make it a little bit special.”


If you could describe yourself in three words, what would those words be?

Aware, Active, Unabashed

Tell us about a girl in your life who rocks.

Danielle Nierenberg, my partner in Food Tank, is one of the smartest, hardest working and most caring girls in the food space. She gets it DONE!

What are your dreams/goals/ambitions?

To have a happy, healthy family and wide circle of friends in a world I actively help to improve. I want that to manifest in the form of epic dinners around with world with great food and great people.

What are you most proud of?

My ideas. Big or Small. And seeing many of them become something real.

What piece of advice changed your life?

Practice what you preach. I think it is so important for those of us who spend lots of time trying to change the world to remember that change starts with us and our own homes. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

With an expanded family, traveling and exploring an unknown path and able to recount some progress made in the improvement of the global food system for all eaters. 

What is the number one item on your bucket list?

To publish a book that nudges eaters to help build a better food system. 

Who has been the biggest female influence in your life and why?

My Mom is a great example of using your shoulders to hold people up, let them cry, and keep your own head up!

What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken and what did you learn from it?

Leaving my job at the UN to Co-found FEED and then leaving FEED to focus on the 30 Project/now Food Tank and the Apron Project.  I learned that good risks always have a way of leading to positive outcomes and that following what you believe is always a good path. 

Why are you THAT GIRL?

I am THAT GIRL, because I have made my life's work improving the food system for all eaters, everywhere. Women and girls are too often both the hungriest and heaviest all around the world, we are struggling with getting enough to eat and also with ensuring that we don’t eat too much or the wrong foods. Through Food Tank, the Apron Project, my forthcoming book, and my work over the past seven years, I am helping to change the food system. 

*Interview conducted and compiled by Sheila Moeschen


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