I have been very inspired by the work of Audra Mulkern and her Female Farmer Project. She recently inspired me to write an article about women and farming over on Foodie Underground, titled “Gender Equality and Sustainable Food: The Power of Women Farmers.”
Here’s a little excerpt:
In the U.S., while between 1982 and 2007, the USDA’s Economic Research Service found that the number of women-operated farms had more than doubled, there’s still a gender gap. According to the U.S. Census of Agriculture, 86 percent of the 2.1 million people responsible for day-to-day operations of farms are men. But there are more women coming to the farming world, and in a time when the total number of farms is declining, the number of women-owned farms and women farmers is on the rise. Today women make up about 30 percent of all U.S. farmers – and often, they take a more sustainable approach. Which means that when we think about a more sustainable world of food, not just at home, but globally, we have to be thinking about women.
And if we are going to think about women, then we have to start seeing them too. Audra Mulkern of the Female Farmer Project knows all about that. A talented, self-taught photographer, a couple of years ago, Mulkern decided to launch a projected devoted to documenting the world of women farmers. Inspired by the women farmers in her local Snoqualmie Valley, Mulkern has set out to tell the stories of female farmers. “I noticed over a couple of seasons of visiting farmers markets and farms that there was a marked increase in female interns. I started asking around and decided it was a story I needed to tell,” says Mulkern. Since launching the project, she has photographed women farmers in five different countries, becoming a big advocate for sustainable agriculture and food justice along the way.
You can read the full article here. And I encourage you to give Audra and the Female Farmer Project a follow!
Image: Audra Mulkern
It’s a sweet space with French and Scandinavian influences, in both the decor and the food. I think I liked it so much because it felt so authentic; nothing was forced, it was all done simply out of love. And of course, everyone wears stripes and they serve fika, what’s not to love?
The Food Not Lawns movement is the topic of this week’s Foodie Underground feature article. It’s something I have thinking a lot about lately – our use, and misuse, of space. There is so much space out there that could go to growing food and building communities. Making your own urban garden might seem like a small thing, but it’s a gesture with a big impact. Imagine if every yard had a raised bed instead of just green space.
“As it turns out, we don’t need to all turn into full-scale farmers, but even just using a little bit of our space for growing food would provide great returns. In the United States, for the 85 million households with a private lawn, the average lawn size is about one-fifth of an acre. That amount of space can actually provide a fair amount of food, and imagine if you got only a handful of lawns production more food. If we grow food not lawns, the results can be bountiful. In Milwaukee, a 3-acre farm manages to feed 10,000 people a year. Some people say you can grow most of what you need on as little as one-tenth of an acre.
So why do we choose lawns instead of food? Because gardening takes time. Because Western culture has instructed us that a perfectly manicured green lawn is the sign of success. But in an era where we are more and more threatened by things like drought, rethinking our outdoor spaces and how we put them to use is of the utmost importance.”
Read the full article here.
When my friend Marissa asked if I might like to have a recipe from Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break featured on FvF, I immediately said yes. I like Marissa’s photography and since I rarely spend any time styling or photographing my own recipes I thought it would be fun to have someone come and do it for me. See, I am lazy in the kitchen!
Get a photographer in your (tiny) kitchen and you immediately realize how hard food photography and styling really is; I have a lot of respect for the people who make it look easy. But let’s be honest; there is nothing like someone doing the hard work for you. And it’s even better when you want to do a series of how-to photos. Instead of playing the awkward Tripod in the Kitchen with Self Timer Camera game, all you have to do is go through the steps and have the photographer shoot it for you. This is perfect for Swedish cinnamon and cardamom buns, which people often ask me how they should twist. Now I finally have a visual guide to share.
“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.”
I would add that many of those magic childhood days were also spent on a bicycle. Books help us explore the world, and bicycles do too. Reading a book is a solitary activity, and while cycling is often done with friends, for me there is a pull to those rides when it is just you, the pedals, the road and your imagination. Your mind can wander to new places, see new things. Just like reading. No wonder those childhood days, full of freedom and exploration were so magical.
I’ve got a whole article devoted to questions of cupcakes, feminism and sexism in the world of food over on The Kitchn this week. Here’s a little excerpt:
I asked my friend Lisa Knisely for her opinion. I was introduced to Lisa when she worked at the magazine Render, and I respect her opinion on these topics, as she’s well-versed on the complexities and nuances. Beyond holding a PhD in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies, she works as a freelance writer and tackles these topics on a daily basis.
“Baking, particularly of the domestic sweet and pie variety (as opposed to the uber-fancy and technical professional pastry chef kind), is a kind of culinary work we particularly associate with a feminized form of care and nurturing in our culture,” says Knisely. “I think a lot of baking businesses employ a kind of gendered marketing and ideology to advance women bakers and it makes sense that they do because many of us have powerful associations of baked goods with love and care from women. And that kind of love and care through food is powerful, awesome, life-sustaining stuff that should be celebrated.”
“But,” she went on, “I don’t see why men shouldn’t be doing about half of this kind of culinary care labor, too. If men were half of the cupcake makers in our culture, either domestically or professionally, that would change the whole field of gender identity and kitchen politics.”
I would agree with Lisa. As a culture, we love to define people and put them in boxes, and that certainly happens with professions. There are many professions which people assume are inherently male; the language that we use is a good reflection of this. For example, why when we read an article about a chef, do we assume that the chef is male? Female chefs are just chefs after all, just like female filmmakers are just filmmakers and female pilots are just pilots.
Read the full article here (I’ll warn you, it’s a long one!).
I was so excited to not only get to be a guest on a Heritage Radio Network show with Johanna recently, but also to check out their headquarters. Housed in a shipping container in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, Heritage Radio Network hosts a variety of great radio shows that are all about advancing food culture. If you don’t know them, be sure to check them out, the programming is pretty incredible.
It also meant that we got to eat a pizza at Roberta’s right before recording the show, as the radio is housed in the back. A super cool restaurant with an oven in the corner and local craft beer served in mason jars. My kind of place. The Heritage Radio Network studio itself sits in a shipping container right behind the restaurant, so as you sit and chat you look out over the restaurant goers downing their pizzas.
You can listen to the full episode here.