This book profiles 26 women leading the sustainable, local food movement in the US. The central message is that food is a vehicle for social change and that women have a unique, but often unheard, voice to contribute to the discussion about food and farming.
Farmer Jane is perhaps misnamed – my only real criticism of the book – for the women interviewed include farmers, urban gardeners, policy makers, organizers, writers, networkers, chefs, anthropologists, and migrant farm workers.
Recurring themes centred around direct marketing relationships between eaters and producers/farmers, CSA’s, farmers’ markets, food education, and accessibility of fresh, quality food for youth and low-income families.
Biodiversity within the food system (as an expression of ecological biodiversity) is a personal interest of mine, and I was happy to see this issue raised by several of the women profiled. “Biodiversity of our food is only as diverse as what is on our plates and what eaters demand.”
I also loved that this book pushed readers beyond organic, sustainable, and local, and encouraged thinking about heritage, heirloom, wild, and Native foods as extensions of our search for a truly biodiverse, culturally-meaningful reconnection to food.
What is new in this book is not the premise but rather the degree. While the need for this book at all reminds us that change is still needed to bring women and men to parity in terms of recognition and decision-making in the agriculture and food movement sectors, this book nevertheless celebrates how much the public profile of women leaders in food and agriculture has grown in the last two decades. The knowledge, engagement, and commitment of female farmers, restaurant owners, and community organizers profiled was vast, varied, accomplished, articulate and robust – an inspiring and celebratory read!