Thursday, September 20, 2007


“We’re trying to educate young people and show them how to use that lens of ingredients as a way to change their lives,” she said. “Otherwise, it would be just another cookbook.”

I have less and less tolerance for empty foodism.


D said...

AW's agenda could be due for a lot of criticism, but this it's a bit much to call it 'empty foodism'. There are lots of other more deserving candidates for that label. I'll nominate my own appetites, for starters.

Leila said...

Alice's foodieness may sound silly or elitist from far away; but she is obsesesd with getting school children - PUBLIC schoolchildren - to love gardening and food. She made this incredible food/pleasure garden (organic) out of an abandoned, asphalted lot in a public junior high school in Berkeley. I lived near it for several years. It is a beautiful, funky, comfortable place, open to the public.

In California (and the rest of the country too) the difference between the food of the upper classes and everybody else is quite remarkable. Children of all incomes and ethnicities go to this school and are exposed to the soil and to an amazing variety of fruits, vegetables and grains. The garden is integrated into the curriculum in many ways. (History, ecology, science)

Maybe the book she just wrote, and the interview in the paper, make her sound vacuous, but in her schoolyard garden project she is attempting to address the basic problems of food in our society - that the poor don't eat unprocessed, whole foods, and that most everybody has no connection to farming and food production.

I lived in the neighborhood of Chez Panisse for several years, and I long ago tired of the precious Berkeley foodie aesthetic (I was suspicious of Slow Food for exactly that reason). It seemed more about conspicuous consumption and an unhealthy obsession with eating ever-more expensive and hard-to-find foods. So I completely understand having this sort of reaction to Alice Waters. BUT you must look at her many efforts to get Americans to grow their own food or buy from local farmers - this is her greatest contribution to date.