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. 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 currently serves on the Executive Board of the Organic Farming Research Foundation and on the Scientific Board of the Organic Center. In January 2021, Dr. Dimitri began a five year term as the consumer representative on the National Organic Standards Board, which is a federal advisory committee that is an integral part of preserving the integrity of the federally administered National Organic Standards.
Research in progress examines economic viability of certified organic farms in the United Sates. The study, funded by the Organic Research and Extension Initiative, will analyze data collected from organic farmers and intermediaries, to identify places where applied economic research would support the success of the organic sector. Other work in progress assesses the efficacy of a farm to school training curriculum for farmers, which is intended to make it easier for farmers to market their products to schools. Dr. Dimitri is collaborating with the National Farm to School Network and the National Center for Appropriate Technology on this project.
Recently completed research examines the role of nutrition incentives in improving diet quality of low-income consumers residing in underserved neighborhoods. A key barrier to improving diet quality identified is the failure of consumers to use the nutrition incentives. This failure is the result of several factors, including transportation difficulties and language barriers to using nutrition incentive programs such as the Healthy Savings Program, which was piloted by NYC. Related research examined the effectiveness of nutrition incentives, similar to the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives first included in the Agricultural Act of 2014, on both actual and perceived consumption of fresh produce of low-income consumers. Other completed research found that urban agriculture in the United States is largely driven by social motives, such as raising awareness about the food system, rather than providing new profitable markets for farmers.
Dr. Dimitri is an Associate Editor of the journal Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, the leading interdisciplinary food systems journal. Prior to joining the NYU faculty, Dr. Dimitri worked as a research economist at the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 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.