Back in the day before sustainable and organic represented the trendy food terms, Alice Waters created her restaurant Chez Panisse as a place for her friends and her friend’s friends to eat. On Monday, she spoke with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom who took time off from trying to balance the city’s budget while turning the city Green to act as host for the San Francisco City Speaks forum.
The discussion, which focused around good, sustainable, fair food brought about several issues and illustrated that people and companies continue to “Greenwash” especially where food is concerned. It’s not just saying that your company or business is green or sustainable but rather as Waters said, “ I look for people who really share the same values.” Are you listening Wal-Mart?
Newsom seemed kind of cynical at first then they delved in the more meatier topics such as the philosophy behind the book Fast Food Nation where Waters disgustedly mentioned that in the fast food world you’re sort of eating the advertising and that food should be the same wherever you go. The fast food giants portray that Coke and fries as something good for you. And fast food should be fast and cheap and be eaten 24/7. Isn’t that the right of every given American? What Waters mentioned and we have lost sight of is that food is precious and it’s important to respect the land where it comes from as well as the farmers who grow it.
Here in Berkeley, she brought about her Edible Schoolyard program to MLK Middle School, a curriculum that connects students directly in planting, harvesting and cooking their own food. Waters believes that with kids (and adults) if they grow it, and cook it then they will eat it. Try that with your chicken nuggets. The forum also raised awareness of the trend of victory gardens, where people grow their own food. We can’t think of any food source more organic and sustainable. It’s just a case of coming full circle back the way it used to be when people learned how to grow and farm and cook. If food prices continue to rise, then we must be able to depend on ourselves. We don’t think that relaying on a heavily subsidized 99 cent hamburgers would be the best way to move forward.
Onward victory garden, onward.