Food pioneer tells Aggie Ambassadors to follow their passion
UC Davis alumna Ann Evans tells a group of Aggie Ambassadors how her career evolved from the time she was a consumer food science undergraduate. Photo by Tyler Baum/UC Davis
Ann Evans, a leader in California’s sustainable food movement, recently told a group of Aggie Ambassadors—student leaders in the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences—to follow their passion to find a fulfilling career.
“You have within you the power to make changes in our food system that will add significantly to the quality of life, to the local or national economy, and to the creation of community,” Evans said. “How do you know what to do? You’re getting an excellent education here at UC Davis. Combine this knowledge with your passion and you will make a difference in our world.”
As a UC Davis undergraduate student in the early 1970s, Evans worked with community development professor Isao Fujimoto to create access to healthy food. She reminisced about cutting bulk cheese in her living room with other members of the “People’s Food Conspiracy” in her downtown Davis home so that locals could have access to a fresh, affordable food option. This is where the ideas for the Davis Farmers Market and the Davis Food Co-op emerged. She would later join with local growers and fellow community members to found the cooperative and the market.
In 1975, Evans earned her bachelor’s degree in consumer food science. She went to work at the state Department of Consumer Affairs as a program manager in cooperative development and later as an analyst in the department’s legislative unit. For a time Evans worked in the state Assembly as a consultant and as chief of staff to Assemblywoman Delaine Eastin.
Evans’ commitment to creating a better and healthier lunch system motivated her in 2000 to cofound the Davis Farm to School program, which seeks to increase farm-fresh foods in schools. As a consultant first with the California Department of Education, then through her firm, Evans & Brennan, she continues efforts to improve school food with Farm to School, the Garden in Every School program, and professional development for frontline school food-service personnel.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have California extra virgin olive oil on every California student’s lunch plate?” she said. “Our California olive industry is poised to compete internationally. Growing the market right here at home through early introduction to this healthy, delicious oil would be a great place to start.”
Evans has co-authored two books and has written numerous articles to help the public develop a deeper appreciation for local foods. Along with being involved in the healthy food movement, she has been active in local politics. Evans served on the Davis city council from 1982 through 1990 and was mayor of Davis, Calif. from 1984 through 1986. For this and other work, she received the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Science’s highest award in 2012 – the Award of Distinction.
“I really enjoyed hearing how Ann looked at Davis, was able to identify a need and execute her ideas to create a place for local farmers to sell their products,” said Sarah Warren, an Aggie Ambassador and agricultural and environmental education major. “It’s something that Davis is widely known for now and it’s reassuring to know that after college we don’t have to settle for a career that already exists. We can create our own career path and make a difference in the community.”
About Aggie Ambassadors
The Aggie Ambassadors program was established in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in 1998 to give undergraduate students an opportunity to take an active role in promoting UC Davis and raising awareness of the opportunities in agricultural and environmental sciences. Aggie Ambassadors work to improve leadership and communication skills by participating in student panels, college workshops, and conducting tours. They also speak to elementary, junior high, high school, and community college students.