Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat (Review)

Book cover for "Farmer Jane" by Temra Costa.Title: Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat

Authors: Temra Costa

Publication Year: 2010

Pages: 224

Genre: Non-Fiction

Source: Purchased from

From the cover:

As nurturers and caretakers of the health of our children and communities, women have the power and ability to transform the way we eat and farm. Farmer Jane profiles twenty-six women in the sustainable food industry who are working toward a more holistic food system in America a system that ensures our health with wholesome natural foods, protects the earth and wildlife, treats farm workers fairly, and stimulates local economies. Leaders like Denise O’Brien are empowering women to take leadership roles in agriculture. Farmers like Dru Rivers of Full Belly Farm are educating kids and growing diverse fruits and vegetables to sell directly to the community. Advocates like Marion Kalb and Anna Lapp are fighting for fresh organic fruits and vegetables in school cafeterias. Activists like Jo Ann Baumgartner are inspiring other farmers to be protectors of natural spaces. And chefs such as Deborah Madison are promoting local seasonal foods as a mainstay of the American meal.

Sustainable food activist Temra Costa shows how you can join these women, whether you want to start a farm, open a food business, found an organization, or simply become a sustainable-food consumer.

I picked up Farmer Jane as a piece of the puzzle of sustainable food-related books that I’ve been reading lately (The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food, Food Rules, Locavore), in particular because of its focus on women in the movement. On this count, I definitely wasn’t disappointed. Costa does a great job of profiling each of the women she has chosen, touching on how they got into the food production scene, their struggles and successes, and explains what their specific niche or activism is. I was really impressed with a lot of the women who I read about in this book, ranging from women starting up community gardens in downtown Oakland to migrant workers heading up a community group to fight for improved working conditions. Costa broke the book down into several themes, grouping the profiles together with other women working towards similar goals. Each section ended with a list of things that the reader can do to join in, for “eaters”, “farmers”, and “food businesses”, with an extended list of resources at the back of the book.

There was one key thing that could have been easily improved in the publishing of Farmer Jane – there were lots of typographical and proofreading errors. Now, I know that almost every book has a couple errors here and there, but there were enough mistakes in this one – that were big enough to make you stop and think what it was really supposed to say – that it made me pause every time and wonder how on earth the errors didn’t get caught by an editor. They were often cases of a missing word in a phrase, a reversing of two words, or repeating one or two words in a row, things that aren’t that hard to catch with a good proofread. It just threw my reading flow off a bit when I came across them, but it wasn’t bad enough to make me think less of what Costa had to say.

I would definitely recommend this book, particularly to American women. There wasn’t really much in here that pertained specifically to Canadians, though I was really happy about the focus on women in the movement. Even though we’re not the US, most places here are close enough that the advice and stories are just as useful even though they’re from below the border. I genuinely enjoyed this book, and will be keeping it nearby for reference in my own journey towards more sustainable eating.


2 thoughts on “Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat (Review)”

  1. Hi Carina,

    Would you give me permission to reproduce your book review of Farmer Jane in an upcoming Newsletter that I publish for my CSA? I would credit the review to as “Carina (LibraryThing) of Toronto, Canada”.

    I would be happy to share an email copy of the Newsletter with you if you’d send me an email address.

    Thanks in advance.


    P.S. I recently received my ER copy of Farmer Jane and am enjoying it very much.

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