If you live in or around Philadelphia and you’ve ever shopped at a farmer’s market, eaten organic vegetables in a “farm to table” restaurant, or purchased a crusty loaf of fresh bread from an artisan bakery, you have Judy Wicks to thank. Even if you’ve never heard of her (and perhaps you have, as she enjoys a certain level of Philadelphia celebrity), Ms. Wicks has most likely influenced what and how you eat.
Wicks founded the The White Dog Café in 1983, and made sourcing high quality produce and meats from local farms a top priority of the restaurant long before “locavore,” or even “organic,” were words in the average diner’s lexicon. Now it’s commonplace to see chefs changing menus by the season, or listing the names of farmers and purveyors next to dishes on a menu, but in the early 80’s this was unheard of in most Philly restaurants, bars and cafes. After a 30 year run, The White Dog is still a favorite among University City Locals and tourists alike and the company has opened a second location in Wayne, PA, all while maintaining a strong commitment local food, sourcing over 95% of its ingredients from farms within 50 miles of its restaurants.
But Wicks isn’t only a successful restaurateur – she is also a community and social activist who co-founded Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), an organization “focused on creating real prosperity by connecting leaders, spreading solutions that work, and driving investment toward local economies.” She has just written a book, Good Morning, Beautiful Business, a memoir that traces her evolution as an entrepreneur, and the arc of her career that combined social change and business, and her continuing mission to help communities create resilient local economies. Click here to read an excerpt from her book.
There are multiple opportunities to see Judy Wicks speak in the upcoming weeks:
Saturday, March 30th, 10-11a.m. at Reading Terminal Market: Wicks will speak about her life and experiences in the Rick Nichols Room, and then sign copies of her book in Center Court. Metropolitan Bakery will be sampling their signature millet muffins.
Tuesday, April 2nd, 5:30p.m. at Temple University (Alter Hall 31, Main Campus): Wicks will speak as part of the “What Is Your Food Worth?” series, a conversation about food, ethics, sustainability and eating Jewish. Presented by Temple University’s Feinstein Center for American Jewish History, in partnership with the Gershman Y, the National Museum of American Jewish History, and Congregation Rodeph Shalom.
Thursday, April 4th, 5p.m. at DiBruno Brothers, Rittenhouse location: See Ms. Wicks speak, then stick around for some delicious cheese samples!