Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “edible schoolyard”

Chez Panisse at 40

They were out in force last weekend, the gourmet gurus from around the world as Alice Waters and Chez Panisse, the little restaurant where the organic food revolution began four decades ago, celebrated a well-deserved 40 year anniversary. Waters once called her creation a “simple little place where we could cook and talk politics.”

I have never eaten at the restaurant but Alice Waters is an inspiration to me. When I turned vegetarian in 1978 the only option on my diet was soy protein pieces that looked and smelt terrible. My mother and I bravely experimented with various sauces, but nothing covered that taste. I only stayed veggie because I wanted to date this political 13-year-old who had told me she would never date a guy who murdered and abused animals (or allowed others to). My desire to eat healthy outlasted my teenage crush.

Alice Waters - last weekend

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery will hang a photographic portrait of Waters. It is telling that Ms. Waters chose a photo not of the restaurant, but of the Edible Schoolyards in which students create and tend an organic garden as part of their school curriculum, that became her second passion.

My eldest son attends Martin Luther King Jr., Middle School in Berkeley, the scene of Water’s first Edible Schoolyard. I am extremely grateful to her for this initiative and her desire to share her vision with our youth while they are still at an impressionable age.

The weekend’s events  saw intimate dinners cooked in homes around the Bay Area by different chefs — Waters didn’t want a big gala event where she wouldn’t have an opportunity to talk with her guests  — doubled as fund-raisers for the Edible Schoolyard Project.

Thank you Ms. Waters for having a vision that will impact people from all walks of life and all socioeconomic levels.  Berkeley salutes you.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

People Making a Difference – Alice Waters

Alice Waters doesn’t need much introduction around these parts. The owner of Chez Panisse, author of many health/nutrition books and the endorser of a slew of initiatives in the organic, sustainable, local food movement, Waters would be a celebrity if she hadn’t chosen to live in such an anti-establishment community such as Berkeley.

Alice Waters at the King Middle School Edible Schoolyard

Still at least here she can encourage people to spend their money on organic produce rather than fashionable shoes without fear of someone stabbing her with their Women’s Liliana by Adi Croc Print Pointed Toe Stiletto ($36 at Target by the way – I did some research).

One particular initiative has caught my attention. My eldest has begun studying at King Middle School where Ms. Waters helped establish an edible schoolyard. It has now become a growing initiative around the country.

Ms. Waters says: “Students who are given healthy food options at school, along with gardening and culinary curriculum, have a greater knowledge of nutrition and eat more fruits and vegetables than children who don’t.”

Students shuck corn at the Edible Schoolyard

She also believes that every child from kindergarten to high school should eat school lunch for free. When you charge for lunch the kids who need it the most won’t buy it.

When asked what gives her hope for the burgeoning food justice movement she replied:

“The next generation of eaters — those under 25. There are some extraordinarily eager and committed young people who really care about food and where it comes from. And they understand why we need to go back to basics like growing our own food and sharing a simple, home-cooked meal.

This age group really gets the importance of nourishing ourselves and the planet.”

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

 

 

 

 

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