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A group of six local women want greater recognition for women in the food industry, especially for those in leadership positions. “Shining a consistent spotlight on them and highlighting them in the community is worthwhile,” says Pineapple founder Ariel Pasternak. “There are so many layers, and that’s the beauty of the food world. You can’t do this alone, and in creating a community, we can know each other and support one another.”
Pineapple is for women in food and those interested in food (and the men who support them), meaning it’s not just for chefs or professionals in related fields such as agriculture and nutrition. “If you’re a lawyer or nurse but want to have an experience beyond going to your favorite restaurants or reading about food online or following an Instagrammer, this is a good opportunity to get to know the women behind your favorite businesses.”
Events, all open to the public, have included a “Food in America” series that highlights underrepresented cuisines in the U.S, such as the Pakistani food from Maryam Jillani, founder of the local blog “Pakistan Eats.” More recently, Toli Moli founders Jocelyn Law-Yone and Simone Jacobson showcased their Burmese cuisine as a possible sneak peek to a forthcoming restaurant.
Another Pineapple event, “The Culture of Agriculture,” featured three women who farm in different capacities. “Even if you go to the farmers market, you don’t know what it’s really like,” Pasternak says. In addition to peeling back the curtain on how to do the job, one panelist pointed out that people still come to her farm and ask for the head farmer, not believing she’s at the helm.
There are also more experiential events such as private vineyard tours of women-owned wineries, and there’s an active Instagram account and invite-only Facebook group.
Pasternak started Pineapple in 2015 when she moved from New York to D.C. to help open vegetarian taco restaurant Chaia in Georgetown. She noticed there wasn’t anything quite like the Big Apple’s Toklas Society in D.C., and she’s long been a fan of the magazine Cherry Bombe—both of which celebrate women in food.
It started with a meeting at her parent’s house. Two years later, Pineapple has gained momentum and expanded online, prompting Pasternak to shed her full-time job with Stumptown Coffee Roasters to focus on the community full-time with the help of Atara Bernstein, Raisa Aziz, Ann Yang, Jordan Miller, and Maddie Morales.
If you’re thinking this sounds so millennial, you’d be mostly right. The team leading Pineapple are all young professionals, and millennials are the target audience, but Pasternak says event attendees span generations because they highlight the work of women of all ages. They did an event with cookbook legend and New York Times contributor Joan Nathan, for example. “We’ve had women in their fifties and sixties,” Pasternak says. “And high-schoolers with their moms.”
Pasternak has her sights set beyond D.C. “Our whole philosophy is ‘fangirling’ for women in food,” she says. “When we travel to a new city, we want to know all the women-in-food businesses and how to support them. Our vision is to one day be all around the country.”