Revolutionary Waters

The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.

--Paul Cezanne
How gratifying and re-centering to turn on the TV in search of war news and find the PBS documentary "Alice Waters and her Delicious Revolution." Waters founded the Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse on principles of sustainability, sensuality in eating, and creating a dining atmosphere that's more like your own dinner party than a restaurant visit. Her ideas--buying fresh organic produce, whatever's in season, from local small farms, farmers' markets, and gardens--were radical when she started her restaurant in 1971. The success of her restaurant, seven cookbooks, and her example of providing sustaining support to new varieties of seasonal produce, compelled food writer Marian Burros to write that Waters has "single-handedly changed the American palate."

Always believing that food is political--she founded The Edible Schoolyard, a way to introduce schoolkids to growing food, and started a prison food program--Waters reminds us how vital relationships are with local growers. As the farmers' market season approaches, reviewing (or finding, as I did, for the first time) her ideas, seems increasingly important in an agricultural market that's seeing a decline in the diversity and quality of produce while concentration of farm ownership in large agribusiness corporations is increasing.

Read her interview in the Christian Science Monitor:
It's not only a more delicious way to eat, it's a political imperative. Our own health and the health of the planet depends on eating this way... If you dull your palate year round with mediocre vegetables, you can't appreciate the real thing when it comes along.
or in Mother Jones:
The decisions you make are a choice of values that reflect your life in every way. Buying Big Macs from the people McDonald's buys its meat from, who are raising these cattle or kangaroos or whatever goes into what they call beef, is the complete opposite of the way it should be done. When I buy food from a farmer, I know who he is, I know he cares about my well-being, and I know he's taken care of the land he's farming. I have a responsibility to him, and he to me. I couldn't put the food I cook on the table without him, so I really treasure this relationship.

No comments: