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Vegan Food Activists Call for Amy’s Kitchen Boycott On Heels of Worker Complaints

Plus why this symphony librarian turned to baking and more food news

Workers at Amy’s Kitchen in Santa Rosa.
Workers at Amy’s Kitchen in Santa Rosa.
Kent Porter/ PD FILE, 2013

Supermarket customers around the country rely on Amy’s Kitchen, the Santa Rosa-based vegetarian frozen food company, for a cheap burrito or mac n’ cheese bowl when cooking seems a bit too daunting. Now workers and activists claim Amy’s has relied too much on its employees, endangering them in favor of faster production. The Vegetarian Times reports that since initial complaints were made public in January, calls for a boycott have gained momentum. At the end of February, groups including Veggie Mijas, a vegan collective for women and nonbinary people of color, and Food Empowerment Project, a vegan food justice organization, encouraged customers to discontinue their support of Amy’s until claims of injuries and overworking are taken seriously by the company.

The company, for its part, disputes the wide range of claims made by workers. “It saddens us to hear that a few of our employees may be having a poor experience with us,” the company’s chief people officer, Mike Resch, wrote in a statement. In the first week of March, another company representative explained to Vegetarian Times that a third-party audit found the workers, predominantly Latina women, were misrepresenting the conditions of working at Amy’s. In the same email, however, the representative claimed the company had also (all while not admitting any wrongdoing) invested in “new equipment, practices, and cultural changes to provide safe working conditions and reduce the risk of injury at work.” [Vegetarian Times]

French Laundry founder dies in Mendocino County

Though Thomas Keller gets much of the renown for the work of Yountville restaurant the French Laundry, at times he has reminded fans that it was the Schmitts — specifically Sally Schmitts’ cooking — that started it all. The Mercury News reports Sally died on March 12 at her home in Philo, California at the age of 90. In 1980, before the Shmitts sold to Keller in 1994, Sally told the Chronicle how surprised she was to see a few San Franciscans making the drive all the way to Napa to eat at her restaurant, a prophetic observation. [Mercury News]

Former professional clarinet player turns to baking

Marin County pop-up Bedstone Baking is run by Dan Ferreira, who spent most of his professional life playing clarinet. The Marin Independent described Ferreira as a baking enthusiast who always had an eye toward bread, taking classes while not working at the San Francisco Symphony. Now that he’s baking full-time, Ferreira is more known for his Bavarian-style pretzels than his work as a music librarian. [Marin Independent Journal]

Esteemed food writer’s home opens its doors to tours

In 2017, the Nuns Fire took Sonoma County to task with such strength that plans to renovate M.F.K. Fisher’s Last House, the name she gave her final home, were put on ice. Now the Chronicle reports Last House’s curators have completed the remodel and plan to host events in the space. Alice Waters and Herb Caen were just a few of the famous guests to dine, or cook, at Last House. [Chronicle]

Mission District loses Queen of Donuts to diabetes at age 63

Chanrith Pak launched Jelly Donut, and numerous other doughnut ventures throughout Northern California, and made sure customers could get a doughnut 365 days of the year. Mission Local covers the loss of the doughnut dynasty and how much it meant to children, Victor Nhul and Kannyka Nhul, who now operate the store. Pak died peacefully watching a Cambodian newscast in her home on February 20. [Mission Local]

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