Friday, April 3, 2009

I'm one of the last food-justice bloggers to get to the Alice Waters Video on 60 Minutes.

Its pissed some folks off--well, one particularly dumb quote from this dreamy, but effective Slow Food Movement Doyenne: its not "I feel good food should be a right and not a privilege--that's not elitist" (which she also said in the segment) but that when questioned about the expense of organic food, she said some people choose to buy two pairs of Nike shoes, I choose to spend more on what I eat (paraphrase).

As SharkFu pointed out in Feministing:
The reality is that my diet has more to do with to eat or not to eat than to shop or to nourish and I know I'm not alone.

When I started teaching life skill classes at a transitional housing shelter for homeless pregnant teens in St. Louis Missouri, I quickly realized that many of my students could teach a master class on making a dollar stretch. A good place to witness their resourcefulness was in the kitchen - trust me, making $160 in food assistance last a month takes serious skill.

With the help of a nutritionist residents came up with quick, healthy and affordable meals that could be frozen and heated up later. They eventually put all their recipes together in a cookbook that I still use today.

What they didn't do was weigh their nutrition against the joy of shoe shopping.

What concerns me about Waters viewpoint is that she is a very influential person who is helping to shape public policy. As I said before, her genuine affection for food and belief that healthy food is a right is inspiring.

Promoting healthy food is a must-try recipe, but folks should skip that extra tablespoon of privilege if they want it to nourish the masses...

I don't think that we need to dismiss the very good work Alice Waters has done in the Slow Food and Organic/Local Food Movement--watch the whole 12 minute video--but I do think that someone in her position NEEDS to be conscious of how elitist she comes off and work to actively discourage that image in order to truly help "the masses" get on board. The edible school yard helps, the White House garden helps, but making breakfast over a camp fire in a multi-million dollar home in the Berkley hills does not and the shoe comment certainly doesn't help.

Privilege is a big a turn-off, but oblivious privilege is deadly to the public perception of a movement. Van Jones would never have fallen for the 60 Minutes ploy. Get some guile, hippy, or at least a PR team :) More on this later, I think...

No comments:

Post a Comment