Food Biz

The Year's 20 Most Innovative Women in Food & Drink

September 14, 2016

Last year, Michael Pollan told us that the food movement—wracked with systemic, neuron-tangling issues—was in need of litigators and community organizers.

And looking at the Fortune and Food & Wine's third annual list of the Most Innovative Women in Food & Drink, released today—which presents twenty businesswomen, policy-changers, and go-getters—we've got them. (And, lest we forget, it was Joan Gussow who gave Michael Pollan a substantial phrase of his mantra in the first place.)

The women who are on the 2016 list are knee-deep in the biggest food cruxes of our time, attacking them through business, policy, and science.

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The issues of food waste and food safety, to start, are being addressed by Emily Broad Leib of the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, who focuses on legislation that will make the differences between safe food and fresh food easier to distinguish on labels and knock down the barriers that impede food donation. And by Kavita Shula of FreshPaper, a company that produces naturally antibacterial sheets that keep produce fresh for longer (they're working on sheets for cheese, bread, and flour, too).

There's concern for food transparency, as well. Betsy Babcock of Handsome Brook Farm, which consists of a network of farms that produces 58 million eggs from pasture-raised chickens a year, is on a mission to make high-quality eggs from chickens with plenty of space to forage available to more people.

And there's a focus on local farms—Monica Garnes of Kroger supermarkets made the list for her focus on building relationships with local farms who may have never thought they could do business with Kroger—and on wellness, for both the planet and the human body: Susie Weintraub of Compass Foods wants to make it easier for the people her company serves—8.5 million meals every day in 4,000 locations across the country—to make more nutritious food choices, for example.

Photo by James Ransom

Most of the women on the list touch address more than one of these problems, of course. Kristy Lewis, the founder of Quinn Snacks, is included on the list because her company produces GMO-free (food transparency) microwavable popcorn (individual wellness), the origin of which you can see on the company's website (local farms), in recycled, compostable paper bags (sustainability).

Read the rest of the list here, then tell us who you think should have been included in the comments below.

And special shout-out to tomato soup genius Chef Barbara Lynch, who is getting more women involved in the hospitality industry and teaching students in Boston about nutrition by showing them how to cook.

Who would you have liked to see included here? And what trends did you notice? Tell us in the comments below!

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1 Comment

ChefJune September 15, 2016
Missing from the list: Toni Tipton Martin, author of 2015's (and maybe the decade) most important book, "The Jemima Code - Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks."
Toni is a food writer, editor, cookbook author, food activist, and the first African-American to be food editor of a major daily paper.