“We need a WPA project that rebuilds our public schools,” she said, referring to the Works Project Administration before World War II that helped put people to work during the depression. “Why not put a garden in at the same time, teach people about gastronomy and ecology and feed them a good lunch?”
Chef Alice Waters should really be commended for her years of work in promoting sustainable, healthy food that’s affordable to all. She has focused on teaching students from lower economic neighborhoods how to grow and enjoy fresh food, which is fast becoming a lost skill set. If we can create a generation of people who will seek out and demand nourishing food we can eliminate a host of health problems that result from poor eating habits. Where certain residential areas may not even have a local supermarket, it is very difficult for children to get access to nutritional meals. Children who go hungry or are lacking in filling meals often cause disruptions and aren’t able to retain what they’re being taught.
Gardening and food preparation may be the difference between being fed and going hungry for many as this economic free-fall continues. It also elevates the minds and perception of those children and their families. Arugula for example wouldn’t be looked at as some alien food exclusively for the haute couture crowd. If you’ve ever had organic vegetables from a local farmer – and I’m thinking of spinach as I write this – you could not describe the explosion of flavor and freshness by comparison.
Where Chef Waters could have chosen the celebrity route exclusively, she decided to give back to communities with a purpose. The Edible Schoolyard Project began in Berkeley but other schools have coordinated their own programs, tailoring them to their local markets. She’s hoping for White House support in expanding these types of projects.
Ah, mercy mercy me indeed….