women in food
In her quest to educate others on how to prepare and enjoy meat, Camas Davis of Portland, Oregon, seeks to change eating habits and help people see, and taste, the benefits of the whole animal.
“We’ve lost our knowledge of how to cook meat, and many people don’t know that all of meat is edible. We want to shift the way that people think about what’s edible, and we want to change habits,” Davis says.
A former food writer and magazine editor, Davis now leads the Portland Meat Collective, which has offered classes in meat preparation since 2010.
“Our main goal is to inspire responsible meat production with experiential education,” she says. The collective advocates meat slaughter that’s humane and transparent—no mystery meat here. Use of the whole animal means less meat goes to waste, and informed eaters have a better understanding of what they’re eating.
On the streets of a Boston, MA neighborhood where one grocery store was vastly outnumbered by fast-food venues, and health reports consistently revealed staggering numbers of chronic disease cases, 17-year-old Shavel’le Olivier sought to become a force for change.
Now, seven years later, Olivier leads the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition Vigorous Youth group, a thriving youth organization that is working to increase food access and improve health outcomes in the Boston neighborhood of Mattapan.
“Our mobile farmer’s market is totally youth-led, and we’ve brought our farm stand to the bus station, the local health center and senior residences,” says Olivier. “We started Mattapan on Wheels. We are about to begin Mattapan Flavors. We’re always asking, ‘What can we do now?’”
Photographer, food stylist, cook, and author Melina Hammer is on a mission to change the way people treat and think about food. In her debut cookbook, “Kid Chef: The Foodie Kids Cookbook: Healthy Recipes and Culinary Skills for the New Cook in the Kitchen,” aimed at aspiring eight to 13 year old chefs, Hammer offers more than 70 recipes, drool-worthy photographs, and helpful tips. Seedstock recently caught up with Hammer during a visit to her hometown of Detroit to discuss her inspirations, her strategies for changing the food system through teaching, and the challenge of eating healthily in an area with limited access to fresh food.
Seedstock: What is your goal with this cookbook?
Melina Hammer: The current landscape of seduction in food advertising makes it more important than ever to clarify what good eating really is. Creating a book with the skills to empower kids seemed like the perfect place to begin. My goal is to provide the tools and confidence for kids to take the reigns in the kitchen. I want to empower kids – and adults! – to make good food: from developing a discerning eye in sourcing quality ingredients, to refining and mastering various culinary skills.
Growing up in Manhattan, Dina Falconi foraged her food at the grocery store. But when she relocated to Marbletown, New York, in the foothills of the Catskills, she discovered a powerful fascination with food harvested from the earth, particularly from the wild.
“How amazing it was for me to discover that many of the ‘weeds’…surpass cultivated plants in nutrient content while also possessing additional therapeutic properties,” she writes in her book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook.
The crowdfunded book, illustrated by botanical artist Wendy Hollender, walks would-be wild cooks through the entire plant to plate process for 50 wild plant species. And yet, as delicious as these wild plants can be, Falconi maintains an approach that also emphasizes foraging’s less tangible rewards.
While it may have the eye-catching photography typical of most fancy cookbooks, Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day, is a cookbook for the roughly 44 million Americans, (according to current USDA data) who receive SNAP benefits.
The cookbook is the brainchild of Leanne Brown, who was working toward her master’s degree in Food Studies at New York University and decided that she didn’t want to write “[J]ust another paper that would just be of interest to academics, but something that could be more widely applied and that would be of use to a lot of the people that I was working with.”
Having studied the issues faced by food stamp, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), recipients, Brown elected to write a cookbook for her master’s thesis intended for those whose food budget is dictated by their monthly $126 per person SNAP benefits. It features recipes that are healthy, flavorful and easier to prepare than the complicated and ingredient-heavy dishes usually found in books of this genre.