Associate Professor, Food Studies; Director, PhD Program
Carolyn Dimitri is an applied economist who studies food systems and food policy, focusing on how food moves from the farm to the consumer. A common thread throughout her research is the role of governmental and private institutions in facilitating transactions between buyers and sellers, including how food labels transmit unobservable information about product quality to buyers and how policies support farmer income and consumer health.
Dr. Dimitri is widely recognized as the leading US expert in the procurement and marketing of organic food, and has published extensively on the distribution, processing, retailing, and consumption of organic food. Since 1998, she has published over 35 papers and reports, and given more than 30 talks, on organic food and agriculture. Her paper “Organic food consumers: What do we really know about them?” received a commendable paper award from the British Food Journal in 2013. She was recently interviewed on why consumers should buy organic food for an article featured in Oprah Magazine.
Research in progress includes a study of urban agriculture in the United States, asking whether the urban setting is a profitable venture for farmers and why urban farms choose to form as a nonprofit organization. Dr. Dimitri is also exploring the political economies of the National Organic Standards Board, which is the advisory council that was created under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, in terms of board composition and board recommendations. She is currently writing a book tentatively titled The US Food System: Economics and Policy. Recently completed research examined the effectiveness of nutrition incentives, similar to the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives included in the Agricultural Act of 2014, on both actual and perceived consumption of fresh produce of low-income consumers.
Prior to joining the NYU faculty, Dr. Dimitri worked as a research economist at the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture. She is an Associate Editor of the journal Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, and is a member of the scientific board of the Organic Center. She earned a PhD in Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a BA in Economics from SUNY Buffalo.