Environmental historian Ann Vileisis is author of Kitchen Literacy: How We Lost Knowledge of Where Food Comes From and Why We Need to Get It Back, and Discovering the Unknown Landscape: A History of America’s Wetlands. She loves to discover and share history that helps to illuminate pressing modern-day issues.
Vileisis became interested in environmental history while earning her B.A. at Yale University. She also holds a master’s degree from Utah State University.
While researching her recent book, Kitchen Literacy, Vileisis was a short-term fellow at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History and a writer-in-residence at Mesa Refuge in Point Reyes, California.
Vileisis is engaged in a variety of local issues concerning the environment and agriculture. As president of the local Audubon chapter, she participates in a collaborative effort called the Cape Blanco Challenge, started by a group of ranchers with the vision of protecting working landscapes and natural landscapes along Oregon’s extraordinary south coast. The collaborative group is exploring ways to link local food producers with local markets, restore wetlands and riparian areas along key salmon streams, and fund conservation easements to protect the most sensitive ecological areas.
An avid gardener and cook, Vileisis has also worked to cultivate her own kitchen literacy. She is married to author and photographer Tim Palmer, and together they lived for eleven years as nomads, traveling in a Ford van as they did their research and writing. In 2003, they settled in the small town of Port Orford, where—she likes to say—she recapitulated a transition from nomad to agriculturist.