15 Women-Led Food Businesses You Should Know | CUESA

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March 08, 2021

15 Women-Led Food Businesses You Should Know

It’s Women’s History Month, but do we really need an excuse to celebrate women and the vital role they play in our food system? Women produce more than half of our food worldwide. From the fields to the kitchen, women are leading the movement for healthy and sustainable food.

While by no means a definitive list, these 15 visionary women entrepreneurs are making delicious and sustainable food, and nourishing our community each in her own way. You can find them in CUESA’s farmers markets year-round, rain or shine. Be sure to support these women farmers at the farmers market, too!

Mariko Grady, Aedan Fermented (pictured above)

Following the 2011 earthquake in her home country of Japan, Mariko Grady (pictured center) started selling her homemade miso to friends to raise money for the victims. Through Aedan Fermented, she now brings the traditions of healthy and flavorful Japanese cuisine to the table with fermented foods such as miso, koji, and amazake. Saturdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Jen Musty, Batter Bakery

Jen Musty, a lifelong baker, made the leap from accounting to catering in 2006, offering good old-fashioned baked treats with a modern twist, and an emphasis on premium farmers market ingredients. With accolades from the Food Network, she now has a couple shops in San Francisco in addition to her farmers market stand. Saturdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Arielle Danan, Beber Almondmilk

Arielle’s interest in food and farming germinated in her hometown of Chico. After graduating from high school, she set off on an agricultural adventure, working on organic farms around the world, and while living in Israel, she learned how to make almond milk. She came back to Chico and started making her own to sell at farmers markets, using organic California almonds. Saturdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Binita Pradhan, Bini’s Kitchen

An immigrant from Kathmandu and a participant in La Cocina’s food business incubator program, Binita Pradhan (pictured at the beginning of this article) prides herself in being the only Nepalese caterer in San Francisco. You can try Bini’s momos (Nepalese dumplings) with home-ground spices at the Saturday market or at her kiosk on Market Street. Saturdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. (Photos: Amanda Lynn Photography)

Kendra Kolling, The Farmer’s Wife

Kendra Kolling is married to the apple farmer behind Nana Mae’s Organics, but her farm-fresh sandwiches, soups, and salads are creations all her own. Her decadent grilled-cheese sandwiches have won numerous accolades, both at local fairs and nationwide. Saturdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Xan Devoss, Fox and Lion Bread Co.

Fox and Lion Bread Co. is a neighborhood bakery and cafe in San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point. Xan Devoss bakes using organic ingredients and whole-milled grains, emphasizing the flavor of the grains and using long fermentation process. They honor the tradition of bread making as a way to nourish the community as well as the farmer and the miller. Mission Community Market, Thursdays.

Yeyen Gunawan, La Vie Wellness

Since 1995, yoga enthusiast Yeyen Gunawan has been crafting probiotic juices, wellness beverages, and superfood snacks as La Vie. For a healthy morning pick-me-up, stop by her stand for kvass, kefirs, pure coconut water, green smoothies, or sprouted almond milks. Saturdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Olivia Mecalco, Mi Comedor

A participant of La Cocina’s incubator program, Mi Comedor owner Olivia Mecalco makes antojitos inspired by her grandmother’s cooking and her memories of Mexico City, including sopes, huaraches, pambazos, tacos, tortas, and other street food favorites. Don’t miss her made-from-scratch quesadillas! Tuesdays and Thursdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market; Thursdays, Mission Commnity Market.

Karen Taylor & Team, Primavera

If you’ve savored Primavera’s popular chilaquiles, you have Karen Taylor and her amazing mostly female staff, all of whom are Latino immigrants, to thank. (And if you haven’t, add those chilaquiles to your bucket list.) From tortillas to salsas, all of Primavera’s products are made by hand, using local and organic ingredients when possible, at their Sonoma County kitchen and restaurant, El Molino Central. Karen was recently nominated for a James Beard Award. Saturdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Kimberly Gonzales, Nahua Pizza

In partnership with her uncle Carlos, Kimberly Gonzalez of Nahua Pizza makes handcrafted, hot-from-the-wood-fired-oven pizzas featuring classic and seasonal toppings. Tuesdays and Thursdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Michelle Pusateri, Nana Joes Granola

Former pastry chef and outdoor enthusiast Michelle started making granola when she became fed up with blends that were stale, processed, and loaded with sugar. She makes a healthier, gluten-free granola using fresh ingredients sourced from local and sustainable farms, and pure maple syrup as the only sweetener. Saturdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. (Photo: Nana Joes.)

Raquel Goldman, Norte 54

Norte 54 offers modern Mexican baked goods focusing on traditional pan dulce (pastries), using seasonal produce and local organic ingredients. Born in Mexico, Raquel Goldman moved to Miami at the age of five, but Mexico remained a formative part of her childhood as she returned every summer to visit her grandmother. In 2020, she started Norte 54 as a pastry box delivery program, while popping up at farmers markets with a rotating menu of pan dulce, such as cochas, novia, and more. Tuesdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market; Thursdays, Mission Commnity Market.

Reem Assil, Reem’s

After years as a community and labor organizer, Reem was inspired to start her own Arab street food bakery after visiting her parents’ homelands in the Middle East. Today, she builds community around her handmade mana’eesh (a soft, pizza-like flatbread stuffed with fresh ingredients). It’s no wonder she was nominated for a James Beard Award. Saturdays and Thursdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Lenore Estrada, Three Babes Bakeshop

Growing up in the Central Valley, Lenore and her friend Anna baked pies to give away to their friends. Years later, they started a pie-making business together with the goal of supporting local farms (Anna has since left the business). Three Babes’ offerings change seasonally, and their apple pie has been named among the best in America by Food & Wine. Last year, Lenore founded the nonprofit SF New Deal, which has helped keep the city’s independent restaurants alive while also feeding vulnerable populations. Saturdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Aruna Lee, Volcano Kimchi

Inspired by her childhood growing up in Buddhist temples in South Korea, Aruna Lee offers vegan and organic kimchi handcrafted in San Francisco. Her signature product is Napa Cabbage and Jicama Kimchi, while seasonal ferments include products like Super Spicy Habanero Persimmon Kimchi, Oyster Kimchi, and Jicama Kimchi Salsa.  Saturdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Mary Risavi, Wise Goat Organics

After years slinging produce for Heirloom Organic Gardens farm, Mary Risavi now brings her passion for local produce and nutrition back to farmers market with Wise Goat Organics, a one-woman kraut business based in San Juan Bautista. Try Wise Goat’s carefully made, hyper-local ferments, which range from the classic to experimental.  Saturdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

The article was updated from a previously published piece.

About CUESA

CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to growing thriving communities through the power and joy of local food. Learn More »