Meet the Winners: Readers’ Choice New Food Heroes

In the September issue of Vegetarian Times, we profiled 10 activists who are out to change to change the way American eats—for the better. (If you missed the print story, “The New Food Heroes,” you can read it here online.) Then we called upon readers to tell us in 125 words of fewer about the local and global food heroes we missed. Entries came in from all over the world, profiling foodie movers and shakers who are walking the talk and bringing about real change. It wasn’t easy, but we picked 10 finalists to showcase for the voting stage, and then asked readers to vote for the top three. The votes are in: below, get to know VT‘s Readers’ Choice New Food Heroes. We know you’ll be as inspired as were by their stories.

Sponsored by





executive director & founder, Red Wiggler Community Farm
Germantown, Maryland



Woody Woodroof is the charismatic executive director and founder of Red Wiggler Community Farm, in Montgomery County, Md. RWCF is a nonprofit farm that hires adults with developmental disabilities to plant, maintain, and harvest USDA-certified organic vegetables. The produce (45 varieties!), flowers, and herbs are distributed through a unique Community Supported Agriculture program, 30 percent of which is distributed to local food banks and group homes. RWCF brings on more than 700 youths and adults with and without developmental disabilities, to work side-by-side in the fields and greenhouse toward the common goal of growing healthy organic produce for the community, in an inclusive setting. Woody is a visionary on the disabilities, agriculture, and environmental fronts. He has created a vision that should be celebrated!


BY Anna White


physical medicine/rehab doctor
Long Beach, California



Dr. Sussman is a rehabilitation specialist at Kaiser Permanente, Bellflower, where he has been teaching the health benefits of whole-food, plant-based eating and regular exercise for nearly five years. He initiated and leads a once-a-week early-morning walking program for patients and hospital staff, sweetening the deal with healthful, delicious homemade post-walk snacks. This ad hoc potluck gets lots of attention from passersby arriving at work with the usual doughnuts—and sometimes turns them into new group members! He also sends his walkers regular emails with links on nutrition, exercise, and food-industry topics. Many have benefitted substantially from the program, with weight loss, improved management of chronic conditions, and generally increased well-being. I am so proud of him, my son, the genuine article—a New Food Hero!


BY Sharron Sussman


master gardener
Chicago, Illinois



“I bought a farm” were not the words I expected out of my grandmother’s mouth when she approached the family, hinting at a surprise. Now an avid gardener-turned-farmer, my grandmother has proceeded to grow her vegetable vocabulary. Her eagerness has manifested itself in monster zucchini, quinoa stalks of deep reds and oranges otherwise found only in sunsets, and many species of squashes. With a minimal knowledge base of cultivation and harvesting, the entire family has become part of the experiment, recently undertaking the grueling task of harvesting and cleaning quinoa. With my grandma as the ringleader, piles of produce have been donated to the local food pantry, and my family has undergone a remarkable transition toward food appreciation; we’re spoiled by farm fresh food.


BY Hannah Francis