20 Women-Led Food Businesses You Should Know | CUESA

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March 10, 2017

20 Women-Led Food Businesses You Should Know

International Women’s Day and #ADayWithoutAWoman have passed, 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 20 visionary women entrepreneurs are making our food more delicious, healthful, and soulful, each in her own way. You can find them in CUESA’s farmers markets year-round, rain or shine. Support women-led businesses!

Mariko Grady, Aedan Fermented

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.

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)

Vanessa Chavez, Cholita Linda

Vanessa Chavez started Cholita Linda at the Jack London Square Farmers Market in Oakland, offering freshly made Baja fish and carnitas tacos and agua frescas. She now owns the wildly popular Temescal brick-and-mortar of the same name, but you can still enjoy her tacos at the waterfront farmers market. Sundays, Jack London Square Farmers Market. (Photo: Cholita Linda)

Kathleen Weber, Della Fattoria

Kathleen began baking full time in 1995, and Della Fattoria has since become a family business, with a bakery-café in Petaluma. She now has a cookbook, and Della’s breads—made with a natural starter and organic flour and baked in brick ovens—are recognized as among the best in the country. Saturdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. (Photo: Tory Putnam)

Tina McNight, Dot’s Baking Pantry

A Jack London Square Farmers Market institution with a loyal following, Tina McKnight conjures sweet memories with her Southern desserts such as pies, cakes, cinnamon rolls, cookies, muffins, peach cobbler, and other treats. Her red velvet cupcakes are not to miss. Sundays, Jack London Square Farmers Market. (Photo: Tory Putnam)

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 and Thursdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. (Photo: The Farmer’s Wife)

Kathryn Lukas, Farmhouse Culture

Queen of Kraut Kathryn Lukas began experimenting with unpasteurized krauts while living in Stuttgart, Germany. She launched Farmhouse Culture in 2008 to introduce a product that is both flavorful and representative of her native California, and since then, she’s built a probiotic empire, with her krauts and “gut shots” in stores nationwide. Saturdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. (Photo: Farmhouse Culture)

Wendy Towner, Honey Ladies

Beekeeper Wendy Towner’s motto is: “Saving the World One Honeybee at a Time.” Her full-service apiary rescues honeybees from residences and businesses in Los Gatos and gives them new, safe homes. She sells their raw, 100% pure, Grade A honey at farmers markets, so she can continue saving the honeybees. Sundays, Jack London Square Farmers Market. (Photo: Tory Putnam)

June Taylor, June Taylor Company

Born in London, June started her handcrafted preserves company in Berkeley in 1992, with an unshakable dedication to traditional technique and sourcing peak-season fruit, herbs, and flowers from local farms and backyards. Her small (three people, to be exact) but mighty business has gotten national attention as a pioneer of the artisan food revival. Saturdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. (Photo: Ana Valdes)

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. Sundays, Jack London Square Farmers Market. (Photo: La Vie Wellness)

Gail Lillian, Liba

After growing the popular Liba Falafel in Oakland, Gail launched Liba to “reinvent the salad bar” at the farmers market, using fresh, seasonal ingredients and taking global inspiration. With greens, grains, and optional meat, her bowls and wraps offer a fresh and filling option for the Thursday lunchtime crowd. Thursdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Karen Waikiki, Primavera

If you’ve savored Primavera’s popular chilaquiles, you have Karen Waikiki to thank. (And if you haven’t, add them to your bucket list.) Karen started Primavera in 1991 after years of working as the chef at a Mexican restaurant in Sonoma. From tortillas to salsas, all of Primavera’s products are made by hand, using local and organic ingredients when possible. Saturdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Michelle Pusateri, Nana Joe’s Granola

Former pastry chef and outdoor enthusiast Michelle (pictured at left, with farmer Mollie Sitkin of Old Dog Ranch) 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.

Heena Patel, Rasoi

Heena draws on her eclectic past to create Western Indian dishes that honor Gujarati traditions, such as black masoor dal, saag paneer, and jeera rice, while sourcing Bay Area ingredients. She believes that people who need food fast still deserve the best appetizing and nutritious homemade food possible. Saturdays and Tuesdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers 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), and soon she’ll be opening a brick-and-mortar. Saturdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, and Sundays, Jack London Square Farmers Market. (Photo: Reem’s)

Dede Boies, Root Down Farm

At Root Down Farm, a diverse pasture-based ranch located in beautiful Pescadero, first-generation farmer Dede raises Animal Welfare Approved chickens, turkeys, and pigs, while working within the ecosystem to responsibly steward the land. Saturdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. (Photo: Federica Armstrong)

Sukhi Singh, Sukhi’s Gourmet Indian Foods

More than 20 years ago, Sukhi brought the flavors of India to the Bay Area when she started creating spice mixes for her family and friends. Today, Sukhi’s offers more than 50 Indian food products, including quick-and-easy sauces and marinades as well as prepared foods like samosas, naans, and entrées. Saturdays, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, and Sundays, Jack London Square Farmes Market.

Lenore Estrada and Anna Derivi-Castellanos, Three Babes Bakeshop

Growing up in the Central Valley, Lenore and 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. Their offerings change seasonally, and all pie crusts are rolled by hand, a labor-intensive process. Their apple pie has been named among the best in America by Food & Wine. 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. (Photo: Volcano Kimchi)


CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to cultivating a sustainable food system through the operation of farmers markets and educational programs. Learn More »