Fiona Ma for State Assembly

It's a bountiful life: Making the city-farm connection

Fiona Ma, speaker pro tempore of the California Assembly, is as comfortable in a business suit as she is in a cowboy hat. That wasn't always the case. A former New Yorker who now represents San Francisco in the Assembly, Ma talks about why she values food and farming.

You've visited dozens of California farms and ranches since your appointment to the Committee on Agriculture in 2009. What have you learned?
The fact that California produces more than 400 different commodities shocked me, number one. And on my first farm tour, I realized I knew nothing about agriculture. I was surprised by how hard it is to grow our food. Now I'm passionate about it. Our standards are high; our quality is the best. We're lucky to have so much great food at our fingertips.

What about the future of farming?
I want to protect farmland. I've done a lot of traveling throughout the world and know our system is the best. I want to help keep it that way.

You recently married. What do you and your husband like to cook?
Cook? My idea of cooking is getting a sub sandwich. But my husband, Jason Hodge, is a good cook and has a green thumb. He's a Ventura County firefighter and tends a nice-sized garden at his fire station, as well as at our home.