From cover to cover, Lindsay Gardner’s newly released book Why We Cook: Women on Food, Identity, and Connection, is filled with stories of female excellence in the food industry. On sale now, just in time for International Women’s Day, each story is accompanied by Gardner’s vivid paintings illustrating her ambitious subjects and their culinary creativity.
Chapters range from essays by industry giants like Netflix’s Chef’s Table director Abby Fuller, sharing her watchful perspective of the shifting seasons, to profiles such as that of Detroit-based Minara Begum and Emily Staugaitis, a Bangladeshi immigrant and an American who overcame their language barrier to found a flourishing community garden. Other chapters, to name a couple, include Memorable Meals created or consumed by industry experts (we particularly loved critic Ruth Reichl’s recounting of memorable eats from her storied life), and Home Cooks in Conversation, where surveys of over 350 home cooks reveal everything from their most treasured cooking tools to the best culinary advice they’ve ever received.
“Women’s stories and ambitions in food have not been given the same spotlight as their male counterparts,” said Gardner to Clean Eating. “A fact that is both disturbing and perplexing, given our integral and innovative relationship with cooking since the beginning of human history.” Inspired by the idea of women sharing their own stories and perspectives, she shines a light on women’s narratives in the food landscape, both professionally and in their own homes.
Spanning countless topics including regenerative agriculture, nose-to-tail animal product facilities, vulnerabilities in our food system, greater diversity in culinary conversations and much more, the author calls this “one of the most fulfilling and exciting creative projects” she has ever undertaken.
“I’m proud of the range of voices that the book includes,” Gardner said. “From iconic trailblazers such as Ruth Reichl and Dr. Jessica B. Harris to newer voices in the culinary landscape like Haile Thomas and Hillel Echo-Hawk.”