Kristen Beddard was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by a mother who was devoted to vegetarian eating and yoga well before either was mainstream. After spending the early years of her life eating vegetables in the school cafeteria, running cross-country, editing the yearbook and performing in school theatre, Kristen went on to study communications at Penn State University. Upon graduation, she landed her dream job in advertising at Ogilvy & Mather New York and moved to the big city. Through her experience at both Ogilvy and Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners, she gained integrated marketing and advertising experience as an account manager on brands like American Express, Kraft, Post Cereals and Vanguard Financials.
After moving to Paris in September 2011 with her husband for his job, she found herself without a job and surprisingly without kale. Deciding to take action and also because she did not want to live in France for five years without a vegetable that was like her comfort food, Kristen launched The Kale Project in April 2012 to re-introduce the heirloom vegetable or légume oublié (lost/forgotten vegetable) to the French. Through her passion and dedication to connect communities with local French farmers, The Kale Project took off.
Within six months, the French press was hailing “le chou kale”, as the vegetable of the year. Kristen and The Kale Project have been featured in Glamour, Grazia, Elle, Elle à table, Madame Figaro, The Globe & Mail, Conde Nast Traveler, and more. Television appearances include programs like M6, Cuisine + and Canal +. Less than three years later, le chou kale can be found at markets and supermarkets throughout France and many restaurants use the vegetable on a daily basis.
One of the pinnacle moments for The Kale Project was collaborating with the famous, Michelin-star chef, Alain Passard of L’Arpege. Passard, who is considered the King of vegetables in France, prepared a kale-degustation menu, which was featured in a September 2013 front-page article in The New York Times. Kristen was deemed, “The Kale Crusader,” and since the name has stuck. Following the Times’ article, Kristen appeared in Whole Foods Market’s Online Magazine’s spring issue of “Revival,” with a mini-documentary that touches upon every aspect of The Kale Project including stories of markets, farmers, chefs, community and most importantly creating a new life in Paris.
Kristen is part of the founding advisory board for National Kale Day, a movement in America to encourage everyone to eat leafy-green vegetables on the first Wednesday in October and which in 2014 was able to engage all of New York City’s public schools. In spring 2014, the Audubon Society’s Women in Conservation recognized her for “Women Greening Food,” celebrating women’s efforts advancing the sustainability of food.
While Kristen continues to grow The Kale Project with grassroots efforts throughout France and other European countries, she also works as the manager of marketing, partnerships and philanthropy for Lady Moon Farms, the third-largest organic vegetable farm in America. «Savez-vous manger les choux?» her first book, about cabbage recipes and gardening, will be released in France by Marabout/Hachette in March 2015. A food memoir, Bonjour Kale will be published by Sourcebooks in America in April 2016.