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Farmer Jane: some women who are changing the way we eat

May. 10, 2010

Temra Costa knows a thing or two about farming. She has a degree in agriculture from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and has been involved with CAFF (Community Alliance with Family Farmers) in California for many years. For a better part of the past decade she has been promoting Farm to School programs at CAFF through their Buy Fresh Buy Local initiative.

And she certainly is not the only woman doing exciting things when it comes to changing the way America eats. So she selflessly decided to use her first foray into writing to tell you about plenty of other women working on a wide variety of amazing projects. Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat profiles 26 women who are all worth knowing about.

The book features chefs like Deborah Madison, an influential restaurateur, award-winning cookbook author, and a founding member of the SFUSA Biodiversity Committee. Costa profiles activists as well, like Anna Lappe, who travels the country educating people about the environmental effects of their food choices. Throughout the book are profiles of female farmers from coast to coast. It features the owners of well-known Bay Area farms such as Fully Belly Farm, and influential urban programs like Growing Power and City Slicker Farms.

The most fascinating aspect of the book, for me, was the wide variety of reasons these 26 women decided to do what they do. Some were born and bred farmers and others entered the scene a lot later in life. Some had an epiphany well into adulthood, or were raised by parents who shared the values that permeate the book. But the common thread through all 26 stories is the need these women feel to share their lifestyle through positive example and education. Costa obviously shares this trait, and peppers the book with “recipes for action” that range from small life changes to huge volunteer projects.

The book is truly inspiring to get an idea of what women are doing across the country to promote good, clean and fair food, as well as learn a little more about some familiar names.

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