California State University, Long Beach
Inside CSULB Logo

Sharing Her Passion For Healthy Eating

Published: July 5, 2016

Libby Gustin with her staff on the set of her food show, Libby’s Sustainable Kitchen
Pictured on the set of “Libby’s Sustainable Kitchen” are (l-r) Moris Montoya, Libby Gustin, Amara Trujillo, Mihika Padbidri and Marisol Ortiz.

Libby Gustin wants everyone to eat healthier. Yes, that means you.

“I think we have a lot of choices when it comes to being healthy and we can give our body good things,” said Gustin, an associate professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences.

One of her main goals is simple—to get the word out—and what better way to do that than through the medium of television?

“Libby’s Sustainable Kitchen,” a food show with Gustin serving as host, completed shooting this past spring, which included 11 episodes approximately 15 minutes in length, covering a variety of topics. The show airs on CSULB’s Beach TV cable channel and the companion Beach TV YouTube channel. Gustin is grateful to have had the opportunity, though doing such a show was never on her radar.

Was she apprehensive?

“Of course,” said Gustin, who admitted she had never seen any of the numerous cooking shows on television. “I never imagined myself being a person on TV and doing this, at any level, but I would do anything to forward this cause.

“I believe so much in it and I believe I have so much to share with people,” she added. “I have a lot to say, but at the same time, I had to learn how to say it at a different level. I’m a researcher and I wanted to be able to communicate it to someone who can then go, ‘Oh, this is useful information.’”

According to the show’s creator and producer, Laura Foster of Advanced Media Production (AMP), Gustin had genuine potential to host a program about sustainable food and preparation. Foster is also the creator and producer of another program titled “Talking Points,” a campus-based interview show hosted by AMP director Dave Kelly. She invited Gustin to appear as a guest on the show to discuss sustainability as it relates to the food we eat.

“Libby was charming, lovely and intelligent, and I thought she might make an interesting host for a stand-alone program on this subject,” said Foster. Hence, “Libby’s Sustainable Kitchen” was born.

Of course, ideas are great, but trying to work such a time-consuming enterprise into a faculty member’s already hectic schedule was something else to consider. But Gustin, who is passionate about food and healthy eating, made it work in great part because it linked directly to her area of research.

“My goal is to address food insecurities in communities,” said Gustin. “That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re poor; it could mean you don’t know what to buy. I want to educate people on how to get more out of their food.”

Once Gustin committed, Foster put together a strong, enthusiastic team that worked together to produce the program.

“While the subject matter was very interesting and very contemporary, what interested me was the collaborative effort between individuals with wide-ranging talents from students, to staff, to faculty along with a variety of organizational entities on the campus; to me, that is what a university is about—collaboration,” said Foster.

Gustin was supported by her on-camera partner, Mihika Padbidri, who is a Film and Electronic Arts’ (FEA) major and an AMP student assistant. Other vital team members included Amara Trujillo, an administrative coordinator for AMP, who served as the program’s director and editor; and Moris Montoya, an AMP student assistant and FEA major, who was the show’s main camera operator and technical editor. Rounding out the creative team was Marisol Ortiz, a student assistant in hospitality management, who was in charge of food and set preparation. She is a nutrition major and hospitality management minor.

Gustin spent a good part of the summer 2015 practicing and refining her presentation skills. And, as enthusiastic as she was, Gustin quickly realized that on-camera work was quite different from lecturing in a classroom.

“I had to really learn how to tailor this into a show,” she said. “I had to learn how not to be a teacher.”

This coming spring, Gustin will be on sabbatical, but the show won’t be far from her mind. She will take it on the road, literally, presenting recorded episodes to various community groups in Long Beach. During that time she, along with students, will collect research from pre- and post-presentation surveys to see if they are actually impacting change. Then, they will analyze the data and write up the results.

“I think we’ll have a good package that can go into any community and give them an easy way to educate those individuals about their choices,” said Gustin. “I hope this instigates something that goes to the national level. It doesn’t even have to be me, but I really feel the concept of teaching people about how much food matters to sustaining their health is so important.”

To see episodes of “Libby’s Sustainable Kitchen” click here.