Executive Director of Fair Food
PHOTOGRAPHS BY REBECCA MCALPIN
For the past 17 years, Ann Karlen has been a leader in the local-food movement here in Philadelphia through her work with Fair Food, the nonprofit she founded with the goal of getting more local food to the people who want it.
It all started with connecting farmers with restaurateurs. Judy Wicks, the founding owner of White Dog Café in West Philly, was a huge inspiration to Karlen. “At the White Dog Café, I saw how much selling to just one restaurant benefi ts the farmers. What if more restaurants were buying directly from farmers? I thought this could be a way to keep farmers farming.” Over time, that seed of an idea blossomed. The group’s mission grew to include the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal Market, which was the city’s first alllocal food shop when it opened in 2003.
Though her work keeps her extraordinarily busy, Karlen does bring her passion for local food home with her. She treasures the hours she can spend in the kitchen working with farmstand-sourced produce to create vegetable-focused meals for her family. Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is her preferred resource. One of her favorite recipes is for the Winter Vegetable Potpie. “I actually make this recipe all year long and just swap out the vegetables according to the seasons,” says Karlen.