Posts tagged ‘alice waters’
In these crazy times, its nice to get some good news. The Obama’s planted their vegetable garden. I realize I’m probably the last food blogger on the planet to write about it, life got busy and my Reader got out of control.
For those who haven’t been paying attention, the NY Times reports that the garden will have
55 varieties of vegetables, including “red romaine, green oak leaf, butter head, red leaf and galactic lettuces, spinach, chard, collards and black kale, shallots, shell peas, sugar snap peas, broccoli, fennel, and rhubarb and onions.”
The article goes on to discuss the blogosphere’s calls for the Obama’s to include beets in the garden. I think 55 vegetables is probably sufficient, and we can live without the beets, but perhaps I’m in the minority on this. Alice Waters is, of course, estatic about the garden.
Andrew Martin wrote a lengthy article for the NY Times detailing the current state of the food movement, begging the question “Is a Food Revolution Now In Season?” Of course, many of the ideas have been around for years, and, in the case of Alice Waters and Chez Panisse, decades. But at any rate, people are noticing, myself included. Clearly, I can’t pretend to not be jumping on the bandwagon just like everyone else.
Mark Bittman’s article in the NY Times discusses the “revolution” and the fact that eating well isn’t as simple as eating organic:
To eat well, says Michael Pollan, the author of “In Defense of Food,” means avoiding “edible food-like substances” and sticking to real ingredients, increasingly from the plant kingdom. (Americans each consume an average of nearly two pounds a day of animal products.) There’s plenty of evidence that both a person’s health — as well as the environment’s — will improve with a simple shift in eating habits away from animal products and highly processed foods to plant products and what might be called “real food.” (With all due respect to people in the “food movement,” the food need not be “slow,” either.)
Hence, the organic status of salmon flown in from Chile, or of frozen vegetables grown in China and sold in the United States — no matter the size of the carbon footprint left behind by getting from there to here.
Marion Nestle, a professor at New York University’s department of nutrition, food studies and public health, “Organic junk food is still junk food.”
And really, that’s what it comes down to for me. Clearly, eating organic, or vegetarian, or local isn’t the complete solution to America’s diet problem. The solution is eating better overall, more vegetables, less red meat (Huffington Post reported today that a new study shows that Lots Of Red Meat Increases Mortality Risk), less sugar and empty calories. I’m not leaving tomorrow to go lobby Congress for better school lunches, more funding for organic farmers or a ban on candy. I’m going to keep only eating meat once a day, trying to consume more produce and educating myself. When I can, I’ll feed others and share with them what I know. I really think that’s one of the best things I can do. That’s how I got into this movement and I think word of mouth is a good way to get others into eating right as well.
In closing, I really appreciated this quote from Ed Levine at Serious Eats: “This food revolution, like all revolutions, is a marathon, not a sprint, and you have to be in it to win it.”
Also, my very own copy of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman arrived in the mail today :)
I realize posting about the organic/slow/vegetarian food movement and Taylor Pork Roll on the same day may seem contradictory. It probably is. I believe that there are generally better ways of eating, but that’s no reason to not eat food simply because it tastes good on occasion. I can’t be good all the time.
I posted some of my thoughts on the current school lunches discussion last week. Meanwhile, the discussion rages on in the blogging world and I’m finally catching up with it. (I have way too many subscriptions in my RSS reader)
Timing is everything and it appears that Alice Waters just came out with a new book in December highlighting her views: Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea. Esther Sung on Epicurious gives it a glowing review. I’ll add Edible Schoolyard it to the bottom of my very long reading list. At the moment, I think I’m too cynical to handle it, plus I’ve already got a million other books to read. But if you’ve read it, let me know how it is.
Meanwhile, the folks at The Internet Food Association have been going back and forth about whether The Pretentious is the Enemy of the Good (how can we easily and simply achieve our goals?), The Problem of Pretension (what is the goal of all this proposed change, anyway?), and, my favorite, Of Pragmatism, Pretension and $5 School Lunches. Therein Sara Mead seems to compromise the ideas of the other posts and notes that “Any scalable solution to this problem (and to have impact it has to be scalable) must involve a combination of both some of the things Ezra and Waters want (more fresh fruits and vegetables, more intensive and local-level preparation of food) and more creative use of mass produced and prepackaged foods that both are healthy AND appealing to kids.” Right on. I also much appreciate her separating the fact that schools need to provide students with healthy lunches (a la Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs) and the need to educate students about healthy eating. Sara is right: schools are asked to do an awful lot these days and as an educator, I’m not sure most of us are up for teaching cooking classes as well.
At any rate, the debate rages on and I’m still not settled on what I think. There’s a lot of variables: How much will this really cost? Is the food actually going to be local and organic (and is that good or bad)? Who is going to make these decisions–local schools, states, federal government? We’ll see.
Finally, as much as I think something (but I’m still not sure what) should be done about school lunches, is it possible to take it too far and cause children to become overly anxious, as this NY Times article about overly cautious parents suggests?
If all this debate is wearing you out, watch this unofficial “commercial” for Trader Joe’s. It made me smile.
When I began this blog, part of the intent was to learn more about food and the current issues surrounding it and develop my own opinions and use those opinions to influence my cooking and lifestyle. All that said, Relishments has largely degraded into a demonstration of how many ways there are to use oil, garlic, herbs and canned tomatoes to make lunch (which I did once again today, though I’ll spare you a post). It’s becoming apparent to me that I really need to look into this issue and develop a stance, both as someone who loves food, and as a teacher.
On February 19, Alice Waters and Katrina Heron published an op-ed piece in the NY Times called No Lunch Left Behind. They make a lot of good points, but as a high school educator, I don’t think their plan is going to have all the “magical” consequences they’re hoping for. I do agree that “without healthy food (and cooks and kitchens to prepare it), increased financing [of the current school lunch program] will only create a larger junk-food distribution system,” but I’m unsure if there’s enough locally grown, untreated, unfertilized, fresh foods to supply every child in America with the perfect lunch every day, as Waters and Heron envision.
The column also argues that healthy meals could be created for $5, but that does not include the “one-time investment in real kitchens”, providing students with the education they recommend or new training for cooking staff. I suspect a tab of far more than $27 billion dollars would result, especially in the first few years. I’m also not sure that the long term benefits and savings would be as far-reaching as Waters and Heron hope (though I’d love if they were right). I think school lunch programs can only do so much. The real issue is frequently at home; even if children are educated about good eating habits and given good food at lunch (which may or may not actually taste good), I believe that youth are more influenced by what they see and experience at home than at school; yes, “…parents should be able to rely on the government to contribute to their children’s physical well-being”, but the keyword is contribute.
Finally, I love Ezra Klein’s commentary on The Internet Food Association: “There are things we should do because they should be done. We’re the richest nation in the world. We can do better than feeding our children inventively presented corn syrup fresh from the microwave.” As much as I can be suspicious of Waters and Heron’s proposal, I’m sure that there are improvements that can and should be made to the school lunch program. Changing school lunches is not going to revolutionize American health, as the column seems to envision, but there’s no reason why America shouldn’t make changes where we’re able.
Mouthing Off, from Food and Wine
Alice Waters Proposes New School Lunch Program, from Serious Eats
Anthony Bourdain on Alice Waters, from The Food Section
Alice Waters’s Open Letter to the Obamas, from Gourmet