Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ordinary Hero: Alice Waters

Ordinary Heroes Award Badge

She's been called revolutionary.

She made a name for herself doing what she loved--cooking delicious, gorgeous food.

She introduced picked-same-day, locally grown fruits and vegetables in her dishes, because they taste best and have the most vibrant color, and started a fresh new cuisine that changed the way millions of us eat.

She used her earned fame to help launch a movement for slow food.

She takes a lot of flack for being outspoken as the link referenced here shows, but she led the campaign for an organic garden on the White House lawn, and First Lady Michelle Obama dug one.

She's been teaching children how to garden and cook since 1996, beginning with The Edible Schoolyard. Now she's lobbying the White House and Congress to plant an edible garden at every public school in the land. More, she's lobbying to get organic, locally grown, healthy food into free breakfast and lunch programs at every school.

You're gonna pay. You're either gonna pay up-front, or you're gonna pay out back. Do you know that one in two kids is gonna have diabetes? Let us subsidize real food instead of fast food. Let's feed every single child in school breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack, for free, and feed them real food.

As quoted by Eat Me Daily

Sparks flew at the Connecticut Forum's Food for Thought program May 14, where Alice Waters appeared with celebrity foodies Anthony Bourdain and Duff Goldman. Bourdain made a good point that people who cannot afford to pay seven dollars plus for a gallon of milk are unlikely to care where their milk comes from, so long as they can afford to give their children milk at all. Alice got that, and her response was equally provocative and, more importantly, a marvelous solution to a big chunk of the problem. Chef Duff Goldman made a keen point as well. It's all captured in this video. Take a look.

CAUTION: Two of the chefs speaking on this panel use profanity. Do not watch if four letter words offend you.

Who do you think is right?

Waters may be equally well-known for her political activism as for the delicious meals served up at her Berkeley Restaurant, Chez Panisse, which is almost as much a Bay Area tourist attraction as the Golden Gate bridge. (Among a slew of salivating visitors, @nguyenthuyviet tweeted on May 27 that she was planning "chez panisse reservations, renting bikes at gg park, a's vs o's tailgating, & ghost hunting" on an upcoming trip to the Bay Area.) But there's another aspect to Waters' work that is of vital importance to our collective future.

Sustainability has been a hallmark at Chez Panisse from the beginning. So important is this aspect, the restaurant posts their Commitment to Sustainability. Here's part of it.

We seek farmers who know their seeds and soil, ranchers who care about the food their livestock eats, winemakers who know what their grapes have known, fish merchants who are concerned about the health of the seas. To them we add kitchen and wait staff who care about the material of their work, knowing they will enjoy and take pride in the technical expertise they add to it. We reaffirm our commitment to all this, knowing that it is central to both the deepest and the most joyous of human activities: generosity, companionship, nourishment, growth.

For doing what she loves, for building on what she loves, for using her best talents and skills to help others, and for creating positive change through action, persuasion and deed, the Ordinary Heroes award is kindly offered to Chef Alice Waters with deep gratitude for deepening the vision and widening the path to the Village of Ordinary.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic video clip, great points made by all three speakers. As with all things, we have to find the balance, but humans tend to swing to extremes before settling again. I think we're on a bumpy ride to logical, healthy, and earth-smart eating for all of us. But I think we're getting there.


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