This Friday 8 March is International Women’s Day and to celebrate we’re championing the incredible women who make our food. Here are some of our favourite female food producers, farmers, fishmongers, bakers and picklers bringing delicious, ethical, quality produce to your table.
Lizzie Dyer, Goat Farmer, Just Kidding
Five years ago, the UK’s first commercial, outdoor-reared billy goat farm came to life. There were no guidelines. No government support bodies. “We’ve learnt as we’ve gone along,” says Lizzie Dyer, who set up Just Kidding on a mission to counter the huge waste of male goats, slaughtered at birth, in the dairy industry. “We’re showing you can really start from scratch and by giving billy kids a purpose, we’re rearing a sustainable source of red meat that’s not only highly nutritious but delicious too.” Lizzie has sold to chefs from Jamie Oliver to James Martin, and in keeping with her zero-waste ethos has also found a way to turn their otherwise discarded goat skins into beautiful throws and upholstery. Read more here on why kid goat is the new sustainable meat everyone’s talking about.
Bridget Hugo, Baker, BreadBread
The birth of BreadBread bakery was an accident. When Bridget Hugo and her business partner Giuseppe Mascoli started Franco Manca 10 years ago, they aimed only to make great Neapolitan pizzas rather than loaves of bread, but Bridget’s passion for proper sourdough was difficult to contain. “After Franco Manca closed for the evening, I’d stay late and use the wood-fired ovens to bake bread for our small side-café in Brixton Market”, says Bridget. People responded well and Bridget quickly established a proper bakery down the road with an ethos that remains true to its origins – to make strictly traditional, wood-fired, delicious sourdough. Watch Bridget talk about what it takes to make real bread the old-fashioned way.
Caroline Steele, Founder, Sole of Discretion fishmongers
Caroline Steele heads up Sole of Discretion, a social enterprise that protects the marine environment through ethically caught fish. Fed up with a failing system that has seen fish stocks diminish and the dramatic fall in the number of UK small-scale fishers (from around 10,000 to around 2,500 in just ten years), former restaurateur Caroline Bennett realised a real solution could only be found in the creation of a whole new supply chain. “There are many good fishers out there looking after the quality of their catch and fishing with environmental sensitivity. And yet they get the same market driven prices for their catch as [the bigger fishers] – many are on the verge of giving up”. Read our interview with Caroline on how she took on the fishing industry, helping small fishers find a market for their catch.
Kylee Newton, Founder & Pickle-Maker, Newton & Pott
Before turning to pickling, Kylee Newton tried DJing, graphic design and floristry. She now runs Newton & Pott, turning seasonal fruits and vegetables into chutneys, jams and preserves. Think Whisky Pickled Carrots, Blueberry Jam and Kimchi. The business has gone from strength to strength, winning the Young British Foodies Vegetable Award in 2016. “I started Newton & Pott with absolutely zilch – on a credit card, which I don’t advise.” says Kylee. “I’ve been slowly churning away and it’s grown very organically”.
Rowie Meers, Farmer, Purton House Organics
Wiltshire-based farmer, Rowie Meers, lives for ethical farming and agriculture. Juggling a home life with three daughters alongside her vegetable, pig and cattle farm and shop, Rowie has grown Purton House remaining dedicated to the organic way of life and complete traceability. “It’s not an easy life. Everything’s at such a huge scale these days. While people do want organic and home-grown produce, you are really fighting against the tide of people wanting cheap food”, she says.
Cat Gazzoli, Founder, Piccolo Baby Foods
Having started Piccolo, the fastest growing baby food brand in the UK since it was founded in 2016, Cat Gazzoli is a force to be reckoned with. “When I had my daughter five years ago, I realised there was a real gap in the market for a delicious and healthy organic baby food company. I began really wanting to start doing my own thing and scratch my entrepreneurial itch!”. Not content with producing award-winning, Med-inspired baby food, Cat went on to launch Piccolo’s sister charity, The Food Education Foundation, to give parents the confidence to understand where their food comes from and how to feed their kids healthily.
Alex Rawe, Yoghurt Producer, The Dorset Dairy Co.
An investment banker-turned-dairy farmer, Alex Rawe, heads up the Dorset Dairy Co. with her husband, Dan. After the pair met on Tinder, she quit her London life and moved to his family farm in Dorset. They began making yoghurt using milk from their herd of Friesian-Holsteins and The Dorset Dairy Co. was born. “Our whole concept is about going back to basics”, says Alex. “ We hand-strain yoghurt using our farm’s milk and adding nothing but culture. It’s also the lowest sugar yoghurt on the market as far as we can tell. If transparency, traceability and accountability count as disruptive, it really goes to show the sorry state of our food industry”.
Read more on the Food and Farming heroes to watch in 2019, and see why Farmdrop is working hard to help local farmers make a living.