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Jean Anderson, born in 1929, was raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. She was interested in food and cooking from a young age. Anderson channeled her interests into a nutrition degree at Cornell University. After college, she took a job as an assistant home demonstration agent in Iredell County, North Carolina in 1951. Those years were a formative part of her career. After working with North Carolina Home Extension, Anderson was accepted to the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. After she graduated, Anderson earned a Pulitzer scholarship and spent a year traveling and reporting in Europe.
Anderson’s journalism career focused on food and travel. She became an assistant food editor at Ladies’ Home Journal. She was a founding editor of Venture, a travel magazine. She was also a contributing editor to Family Circle. While at Family Circle, her experience as a home demonstration agent inspired a column about the regional foodways of America. Out of that came The Grassroots Cookbook (1974), profiling female home cooks and American regional recipes. Anderson has written over twenty cookbooks, including A Love Affair With Southern Cooking (2007).