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Did you catch Alice Waters on 60 Minutes?


Watching it now...

Edit: How much did you want to try that egg cooked in the fireplace over the crispy toast with ripe tomatoes?!

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  1. Bless your heart! *I* still have time to TiVo it. Thanks, k-e.

    1. Shoot! Looks like it's on NOW here in CA! What's that all about?

      2 Replies
      1. re: c oliver

        No problem--you can watch the clip up above. :)

        1. re: kattyeyes

          It's on later also but maybe I'll just watch the clip. Not sure I'm up to Bernanke on the weekend. Enough babble M-F !

      2. I adore Alice, but, golly, I'd like to see her eat from her garden year-round here in Minnesota without ever eating food that has been frozen. I'm not trying to be disrespectful of all of her accomplishments, but seriously, she seems to live in a bubble.

        The ground has been frozen here since November and won't thaw until mid-April at earliest. If we're not allowed to freeze our food to over-winter, what does she recommend we do? Even the apples and winter squash and potatoes are way way way past their prime by now, March. 5-6 months a year, the ground is frozen! Nothing grows. Not tomatoes, not broccoli, not kale.

        She seems to have no idea that not every part of the country is as temperate as Berkeley, California. She's not elitest; she's West Coastist.


        26 Replies
        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          P.S. That breakfast looked amazing. What I wouldn't give to have Alice cook me a meal like that!


          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            A dear, very devout Christian friend of mine loaned me the book, The Shack. It was a sweet book but more than anything I kept thinking that I wished God would come and cook for ME. Maybe She'd bring AW along to assist.

            1. re: c oliver

              Wow. I've never heard of that book, but it has almost 3000 reviews on Amazon, and it was only issued in July 2008. It must have quite the following. And God does the cooking, eh?


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                I wouldn't buy it but it was a sweet story (fiction) about a man who spends the weekend with God the father (who actually is a large, Black woman, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. God was the cook. Imagine knowing you'd never have any culinary failures :)

                1. re: c oliver

                  The book is well worth reading. Maybe check it out at your library? It is by no means just for devout Christians.

                  1. re: bayoucook

                    Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that. When I said I wouldn't buy it, it's because I rarely buy fiction and use the library. And, yes, it's got a nice lesson. But the on-topic point I was making was wouldn't it be cool to have God do the cooking :)

                    1. re: bayoucook

                      It's weird that The Shack is mentioned here today. I had several good friends in for lunch today and two of them talked about this book, The Shack. Apparently the author intended 12 copies to be printed for family but others heard about it and it has sold many thousands of books subsequently. I guess I should invistagate this further although my first inclination was to dismiss it as another Da Vinci Code.

                      1. re: Gio

                        I'm betting millions of books since Costco has it! It's a sweet book with a moral. A small book so not a big investment in time. I only mentioned it because I thought how cool it would be for God to be a large, Black woman who cooks. Invite me over please!

              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                I can't find the breakfast video. Where is it?

              3. re: The Dairy Queen

                Her comment about nike sneakers pretty much erased whatever respect I had for here.

                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  Half of me adores Alice Waters, not least for the Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook, which is awesome . The other half of me wants to slap her upside the head. There's such a Marie Antoinette let-them-eat-cake (or, you know, 100% organic produce) air about her. Yes, it would be delightful if we lived in a world where little children spent their days cultivating garden patches in rich composted soil. But we don't. It's cool to be idealistic; it's much less cool to willfully ignore reality and pretend that the reason everyone can't have what you have is that we aren't trying hard enough.

                  1. re: small h

                    Wow, I've TiVo'd this and will watch during dinner! She's clearly a hot button for a lot of people.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      I look forward to reading your reaction. I'm mindful that cheerleading has merit, but so does practicality.

                    2. re: small h

                      <it's much less cool to willfully ignore reality and pretend that the reason everyone can't have what you have is that we aren't trying hard enough.>

                      Well, a large part of the reason everyone doesn't have that IS that we haven't tried hard enough in the past. School gardens ARE, in fact, cropping up all across the country, and at least SOME kids in cities like Newark, NJ, are getting in touch with their "Inner Gardener" with great success.

                      1. re: ChefJune

                        I agree that it is noble to try, and I applaud the success Alice Waters has had. And we can go around and around this point until the cows come home. But Waters would do much better to work with individual communities and help them make the best of what they have. Instead, she issues grand pronouncements and tries to force everyone to conform to her tiny, fixed, unattainable model of fresh! organic! slow food! perfection.

                        Shelter is also a basic need. If someone were to gallivant about the country encouraging people to build their own houses because those houses would be sturdier and more energy efficient, or whatever, we would call said person a crackpot.

                      2. re: small h

                        small h - I hope you're not seriously denigrating Alice Waters for her natural, local ingredients agenda. I know she has a matter-of-fact air about what she does, but a "do as much as you can as often as you can" understanding would seem totally appropriate....... does she really need to qualify the message with "I know it's freezing in Minnesota".

                        She began the Edilbe Schoolyard concept in 1995 and I can't find a way to criticize it on any level...... except that it may make some folks want to go out of their way to duplicate it.

                        I'm sorry, and don't take this personally or too literally, but should anyone have smacked Jesus upside the head for preaching things that are difficult for all to achieve? I'm not making an equation to Alice Waters here, just sayin' the fact that only the few can actually pull it off doesn't mean the many shouldn't try.

                        1. re: Midlife

                          If you read my post(s), you'll see that I'm hardly denigrating Alice Waters for her natural, local ingredients agenda. I'm denigrating her for pretending it's easy as pie for all and sundry to achieve. And yes, she DOES need to qualify the message, or risk coming across as elitist and out of touch.

                          If you are determined to draw a parallel between Alice Waters & Jesus, you can start by noticing that while we can all love our neighbors, it's a little silly to expect us to also walk on water.

                          1. re: small h

                            I don't insist on the comparison, it just seemed like a reasonable way of making a point. I probably haven't read or seen Alice enough to say this (or I would presume so from your position) but I've never thought she pretends her agenda is easy or that reasonably intelligent people would find her to be suggesting anything other than an ideal. Does she have to actually say "doing this as much as you can is better than not doing it at all"?

                            I'm really not trying to be argumentative about this, and I'd probably only get a 3 or 4 on her scale of 10 myself, but I don't hold it against her that she sets the bar high. I've never felt like she's talking down to mere mortals or anything like that. I can't really afford dinner at Chez Panisse these days but it's fun to think about.

                            1. re: Midlife

                              When you consider what Waters advocates in the abstract, it seems eminently reasonable. But when you actually watch her (and you should absolutely look at the 60 Minutes segment, if you haven't already) you'll see a woman who isn't merely setting the bar high. She's setting it exactly at the level she herself is at, and acting dumbfounded that everyone else can't - or won't - just get on up there, too.

                              1. re: small h

                                Funny. I did watch the 60 minutes segment and didn't get that impression. I guess we just disagree on this.

                                I do recall Leslie Stahl beginning with a statement to the effect that being with Waters is to be "in another world", but I took that to be a positive. What foodie could have watched her make eggs in her own wood-fired oven and NOT want to be able to do that? I may have to go into my profile and change my "I wish I could....." statement.

                                1. re: Midlife

                                  Ahem!! See roxlet's post below for context.

                          2. re: Midlife

                            AW may have developed the concept of the "Edible Schoolyard," but the idea wasn't entirely new. I grew up in Brooklyn, NY in the 50's, and waaaaay in the back part of our huge concrete schoolyard was an unpaved section that was turned into a vegetable garden every spring. We'd buy seeds from the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens for a penny or two a packet, start the seeds indoors, and plant them outside when the weather warmed up. We'd carry heavy watering cans out to the garden from the school building to water our plants. The problem was that by the time school let out at the end of June, the plants were just starting to grow. So kids like myself, who lived close enough to school, would often carry water from home to the schoolyard during summer vacation. Every now and then we'd even be lucky enough to "harvest" our small-yielding crops.

                            1. re: CindyJ

                              You don't appear to already have a horse in this race so you get a pass here. This topic has been mostly about whether AW deserves credit, for what, and how much. Neither AW, nor 60 minutes, nor I, suggested that "Edible Schoolyard" was the first of it's kind. It's a wonderful thing to do, no matter who does it, where, or when.

                              One local High School, here in super-suburban OC, California, still has an Agriscience program and a Future Farmer's Chapter........ just a few miles from the world of The Real Housewives of Orange County. They're issueing provisional pink slips to teachers here in CA, but kids can still learn about corn and goats.

                              I grew up in Little Neck and we weren't as lucky as you were in Brooklyn. I had to go to my Aunt and Uncle's farm in South Jersey to get my first taste of real tomatoes, but only because my Mom chose roses over fruits and veggies.

                              1. re: Midlife

                                I never meant to make less of AW's program or her contribution to the kids, families and communities that benefit from it. My point was that even in a (literally) concrete environment, city kids have been learning about the joys of gardening for a long time.

                      3. Had the show on, went outside to watch the shuttle launch.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Veggo

                          How cool must that be to see live! I'd have done the same if I were in your neck o'the woods.

                        2. she has great ideas, but is completely disconnected from average citizens who cannot afford $4-pound grapes or any of the other high-end organic meats and produce AS WELL AS two pairs of Nikes... she bothered me more than I expected, even though I respect the basis of her "movement"

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: aklein

                            I just heard the grape comment myself - ouch! But having a campfire in my kitchen is perfectly normal :) While I do agree with the basis of many of her ideas, she definitely seems a bit out of touch.

                            1. re: enbell

                              As much as I'd like to dismiss her as a Berkeley flower child, especially as I look at the winter-scorched ruins of my own garden, I think her ideas really make sense. Our culture has moved away from food as a center of pleasure and family time and substituted TV and other distractions instead. We've got a lot to learn from so-called "developing nations" in that respect. Alice has the right ideas, but perhaps needs to be a little less doctrinaire--I enjoyed some frozen peas just today!

                              1. re: newhavener07

                                I concur. I am at a loss however as to how to put her premise into practice given the current economic situation. Your thoughts/ideas?

                                1. re: newhavener07

                                  TDQ's comment from Minnesota resonates a lot farther south than many would think.
                                  Berkeley is blessed to have the Japan Current off shore that, along with the mountains to the east, keeps her area all but frost free.
                                  Friends in Tennessee lost their winter greens patch to an early freeze in November and in spite of attempts to replant, have lost the subsequent replantings to temps approaching zero F. We are almost the same degrees north of the equator as Berkeley, but the vagaries of climate are not so kind to us.
                                  Root vegetables, root cellars and a patch of greens along with lots of salted pork would be getting really old by now, but eggs would be beginning again.
                                  (Dandylion greens and chickweed are not all that great, FWIW.)

                                  1. re: shallots

                                    Dandelion and chickweed are great. They just must be picked young and used correctly...... I love Alice Waters. Yes her ideas are not truly attainable in full for everyone,. but she makes us strive for change.

                                    1. re: shallots

                                      Along those lines, if you've read the Barbara Kingsolver book "Animal Vegetable Miracle", you get the idea that they were mightily sick of frozen and root veggies around this time of year too!

                                      I think AW is overly harsh on frozen veggies as they DO retain their nutrients better than "fresh" unless they were picked in the last hour. I believe she is absolutely correct that we've marginalized food and eating to a commodity--buy cheap, eat fast. There are some huge issues here that tie in to factory farming and subsidized crappy food that she is touching on, but her manner is offputting and I can see why people think she is too "California-y".

                              2. Folks can just do the best they can. In Eugene, Oregon six or so local producers have opened our local farmers market early, officially it doesn't open until the first Saturday in April. Went there yesturday and got fresh brown and green eggs, heirloom carrots, organic potatoes and some great brocoli. Lots of local folks shopping and supporting small local growers.

                                I will plant my own small garden the first week of May but will support local producers until the market closes next November. Can I buy 100% local and organic? probably no but I will do what I can to support my local growers and eat well.

                                1. I'm pretty amazed that she elicited such passionate and/or negative feelings. Yes, she's idealistic. Hey, she's an old hippie. She aims high. She knows we will all not reach as high a goal as we wish we could. Whether it's lack of money or horribly cold winters, she knows that. But if we don't aim high, won't we fall even shorter? Can we all afford $4/# grapes? No. But do some of us (I include myself) buy *other* things, i.e, brand name tennis shoes instead of $4/# grapes. You know we do. I think pioneers of any sort are a wonderful thing. Martin Luther King, Susan B Anthony, you get the point :) (NO, I am NOT comparing Alice Waters to to MLK so don't even go there!) I didn't think a single thing she said sounded elitist. Idealist, yes. I want those types of people to give me good examples. PS: I lived in San Francisco for many years and still live in NoCal. I'm biased. So shoot me :)

                                  38 Replies
                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    You consider her "idealistic" because you live on Planet Alice. She doesn't even recognize that there are other planets out there full of people who don't have any idea who she is and wouldn't be the least interested in her or anything she had to say.
                                    Food isn't the center of their lives. For some, it's pleasure but not a big fat hairy deal. For others, it's a struggle simply to keep body and soul together.
                                    There are a lot of people who are satisfied. They're happy as they are and don't want to be preached to by some condescending woman with servants to work her perfect little garden that never freezes on land that they'll never own. They don't want to eat odd foods that aren't what they grew up with. They're grateful that they can afford the grapes on sale at the local supermarket for 99 cents.
                                    For all that Saint Alice possesses, she is profoundly unfulfilled. She sees the glass half empty and leaking.
                                    It's everybody else's fault of course because they don't live up to her standards. Does anyone?
                                    What a joyless woman.

                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                      I think you may have missed her point entirely. Simple food is good and everyone should have it. Not that we should all go buy it now .. but that a way should be found so that all in any economic class should have access to good food. I think that is a good goal. Quality food - and access to it.

                                      1. re: coastie

                                        Your presumption is incorrect. I am well familiar with the body of her work and have not "missed her point" nor have I missed that she somehow arrogates to herself the role of decreeing how the diverse population of the United States should choose to eat.
                                        The vast majority of Americans do eat simple foods whether by choice or necessity. Yet she somehow includes grilled cheese sandwiches and deviled eggs in her latest book as though they are some type of revelation from on high.
                                        Good food is readily available throughout this country even if it's not up to her own exacting standards and that is her problem.
                                        She presumes that her goals and choices are superior and that is elitist.

                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                          My parents live around the corner from her house and I walk past it all the time. It is a nice house but there are far, far nicer houses in better neighborhoods in Berkeley. Her yard is pretty small. (I went to a yard sale there. Yes, she had a yard sale.) Sometimes her idealism can seem irritating and unrealistic but I do admire the fact that she has never moved "up." She does aim high. I think she's a very genuine person, though.

                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                            Then we're all elitists. I would call that "human."

                                        2. re: MakingSense

                                          <What a joyless woman.>

                                          Have you ever met her? or heard her speak in person?

                                          She is not at all "joyless." Quite the contrary.

                                          1. re: ChefJune

                                            No, I haven't met her or gone to one of her "lectures." Nor has she met most of the 300 million American whom she feels free to preach to.
                                            I'm only familiar with the body of her work and seen her on TV. She bores me.
                                            Waters is a "my way or the highway" kind of person who has a very difficult time understanding the diversity of America. She is quite disapproving of those who don't buy in to her opinions.
                                            That is condescending.

                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                              if you saw the 60 Mins spot, you HAVE attended one of her "lectures".....

                                              actually, I agree in principle with much of what she has said in the past, but she definitely seems to be floating away from the real world wearing rose-colored glasses all while offering some sound advice, of which we can all learn some things and take from it what we can...

                                          2. re: MakingSense

                                            woah. i must have watched a different clip. i saw a woman who strives to get back to basic healthy food to put in our body. i saw someone who was speaking of walking away from toxic food - food stuffed with preservatives, hormones and the like.

                                            i guess for me it IS so important because I've have a wheat allergy. one i can attribute to a vegetarian diet (which i chose as a child) and a hell of a lot of processed or boxed products containing wheat. my fault? yes...but i think the food industry is to blame for poor standards on food. teaching us by price point that overconsumption and over processed food is cheaper and lasts longer.

                                            truth be told, so many of us are deficient in our nutrients it's ridiculous.

                                            but i guess it won't be a problem for those that don't find out someday that they have celiac, or diabetes or heart diease. count yourself lucky.

                                            for those open to hearing about how to eat better (you don't have to buy $4 grapes to do so, (she runs a restaurant for cripessakes, so of course she's buying nice ingredients) you just have to open your eyes to the shit you are putting in your body.

                                            not to get all Alice Waters on ya...and this isn't directed just to makingsense (just where i decided to post, i honestly couldn't hold myself back any longer, sorry MS) but do one thing for me. Take a look just at a few of the sour cream containers on the shelf.

                                            Many will have a list of things you've never heard of. Things to stabilize and keep the product on the shelf longer than it should healthily be. Then take a look at Daisy Sour Cream. I think it has two ingredients. Maybe this won't make sense to anyone...but small changes are HUGE for your health. Really. I think it's just that AW wants awareness out there. Delicious and inexpensive food can be made with some time and energy spent in the beginning. No one has to look far to see so many people fighting being overweight and undernourished.

                                            sorry, hot button for me.

                                            1. re: lollya

                                              It may be true that "the food industry is to blame" for some really crappy food but they're also necessary.
                                              Who else will we rely on in the future?

                                              It's estimated that by 2050, 70% of the population will live in cities. That means that they are going to have to rely on supermarkets and supply chains that deliver food in large quantities to increasingly dense population centers.
                                              Think of the size of the typical farmers' market that's open for 5 or 6 hours a week with small pickup and panel trucks compared to a large 24-hour store serviced by perhaps 5 or 10 tractor trailer trucks a day. That volume of food can't be provided by "local" farmers, particularly in most of the temperate-zoned US without year-round growing seasons. Plus Americans have come to expect a broad range of products from around the country and the world, including things which aren't in season, and certainly not "locally."
                                              Increasingly, Americans also want convenience foods (prepared, frozen, packaged, salad bars, hot bars, sushi, deli, etc) and they want it in a "one stop" venue.
                                              There's more of them then there are of people like Alice Waters if we can judge by the amount of square footage devoted to this category in even "aware" stores like Whole Foods.
                                              Unfortunately, some of that food is going to require stabilizers and preservatives. Compromises may have to be made whether we like it or not.

                                              Do I like this idea? No. It doesn't sound like most of the posters here do either.
                                              But it may be the unavoidable future we face.
                                              Alice Waters can't turn that tide.

                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                There are more city gardens and farmers markets in urban parts of Berkeley and Oakland now than there were 10 years ago. A drop in the bucket, sure, but at least some people now have a choice beyond their local liquor store. Is AW responsible for this? Not entirely, of course. But she is to an extent and every bit helps.

                                                1. re: Glencora

                                                  Jane Jacobs' Project for Public Spaces only has the latest numbers from the USDA which unfortunately are from 2004:
                                                  "The number of farmers markets in the United States has increased dramatically from some 1,755 markets in 1994 to over 3,700 in 2004. Over three million consumers shop at these markets, where an estimated 30,000 small farmers and food entrepreneurs earn a partial or full living selling their local products. USDA has projected roughly $1 billion in consumer spending in urban, suburban and rural communities farmers markets."

                                                  Three million consumers is still only 1% of the American population.
                                                  Even if the number of markets has doubled again in the past 4 years, it still has not and will not serve a substantial proportion of consumers.

                                                  There has been an established farmers' market culture in many parts of the US for a very long time. The market near my home was set aside by Thomas Jefferson and has been in continuous operation for over 125 years. I grew up shopping at the French Market in New Orleans and have always shopped at farmers' markets by preference, throughout the South and Mid-west, in Amish markets and in Texas.
                                                  They were always there and people always shopped at them.
                                                  Many of the new ones popping up are the work of the USDA and others by local communities responding to consumer demands.
                                                  This is part of a generalized trend that can't be laid to one person. It is just as much the influence of the marketing done by Whole Foods and the Food Network, the health care industry, mass media, fashion and Hollywood as anything else.
                                                  If Entertainment Tonight shows Stars!! shopping at farmers' markets, it has far more impact than some restaurant owner from California. InStyle Magazine carries a lot more weight than Gourmet with the folks.
                                                  Hey! Whatever gets them there, but keep it in perspective. CHs are much more attuned to this culture than the public at large, and in a very different way. To non-CHs, it might be just a trendy way to spend Saturday visiting with your friends and maybe pick up a few tomatoes.

                                                  BTW, the website for the Project for Public Spaces is very good. Great source for info on markets.

                                                2. re: MakingSense

                                                  <It may be true that "the food industry is to blame" for some really crappy food but they're also necessary.
                                                  Who else will we rely on in the future?>

                                                  Then it's about making them responsible for providing food that is really nourishing and not going to make us sick! That's crazy! you intimate we are all doomed to a future of eating crappy food because that's all that will be available!

                                                  That is exactly what Alice Waters is saying does not have to be so..... but WE have to make "them" change it.

                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                    Ah! But "the food industry" is a broad term. You jumped right on that, didn't you?
                                                    The food industry might produce crap but it also makes soy milk and tofu. It produces Count Chocula and wheat germ. There are hot dogs made from chicken lips and organic Berkshire pork on the internet.
                                                    How would Chicago or Minneapolis feed millions of urban dwellers in winter without the food industry's supply chain for fresh meats and produce?
                                                    The par-baked breads and organic frozen meals at Whole Foods come from factories. I'm not giving up coffee, sugar, flour, spices, lemons, and olive oil.

                                                    Alice Waters is looking at a beautiful tree. Other people live in a forest that she isn't seeing.
                                                    There will always be a market for the kind of wonderful food that she espouses, just as there is a market for haute couture, handmade shoes, original art and live theatre.
                                                    But most people choose to shop at the Mall, buy prints and posters. They go to movies and watch TV. Some of it is good, some of it is dreck. But who gets to say what's good?
                                                    As long as people are free to make choices, the market will provide them.

                                              2. re: MakingSense

                                                In this post, after you tell another poster that they are living on Planet Alice, you go on to say that Alice Waters is "profoundly unfulfilled", and later, you say that she is a joyless woman. Maybe, should you be willing to take a few extra minutes to flesh this out, perhaps you could use a little armchair psychology and let us know how you arrive at these conclusions, and what significance they have,

                                              3. re: c oliver

                                                Again, I will repeat that I am a fan of Alice's. Some of my the best meals of my have been at Chez Panisse.

                                                However, I have to say, it bent me out of shape for to watch her shudder at the mere thought of frozen vegetables. Hey lady, I live on those! That's the best produce that's available to me this time of year. So, instead of coming away from watching that interview motivated and inspired, I came away thinking, Alice thinks I don't "aim high" enough because the ground beneath me is frozen five months out of the year. I invest a lot of time and energy in buying LOCAL produce in season and preserving it to last me through the winter. And I think I do okay.

                                                Instead of looking down on people because they have to eat frozen produce because that's the reality of their landscape, maybe she should educate people on how to get the best out of their frozen produce.

                                                And her comment about eating $4 grapes instead of buying two pair of Nikes is a cop-out. Leslie Stahl was trying to get Alice to explain how she expected the poorest among us could afford to eat the way Alice advocates. There have been times in my life where I couldn't afford $4 grapes and it wasn't because I was buying multiple pairs of name brand footwear. I couldn't afford the grapes or the Nikes.

                                                The last time I was in San Francisco there was a front page article on the Chroncile about how Alice had convinced the City to grow strawberries on top of bus shelters. So, now they are what, providing ladders so people can harvest the strawberries? I'll bet that's an accident waiting to happen. How's the drainage up there? And, how do they water those plants, anyway?

                                                I think it's great to be idealistic, but I think it's rude to push your agenda nationally and just pretend that the limitations that other people live with everyday aren't real.


                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  I think you have to remember that this was an edited 60 minutes interview with a certain bent on portraying Alice in a certain way.

                                                  Alice lives in a place where there always good fresh vegetables all the time. So she should never have to eat something that is frozen. I'm pretty sure that she knows that that is not the case everywhere and wouldn't think less of you for freezing fresh vegetables so that you could enjoy them when none are available. It seems like a better alternative too having them shipped in from California or South America. The interviewer/producers of this segment decided what it would be about, not her.


                                                  1. re: thedairyshow

                                                    I think that's a very legitimate point; thank you for saying that. Editing can have a major impact on how someone comes across. AW didn't come across well, I thought, but maybe all the things she said that would have made her seem more reasonable were edited out!


                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      The editing could not have been more flattering. The usual "60 Minutes" MO is that when they disagree with their subject, they present an opposition viewpoint, even in a portrait piece. Didn't happen here. They didn't find that she was unreasonable in the least. This was a drooler.

                                                      Frankly, on a personal level, I want to agree with Waters. I like to live in an Ivory Tower and pretend that the world stops outside my garden and certainly doesn't include the public housing only a few blocks from my home.
                                                      I'd prefer if the local schoolyard could be like that middle school garden in Berkley but I know that the first garden chore every morning would still be cleaning up the overnight "crop" of condoms and syringes like we do now instead of dew-kissed lettuces and tomatoes.

                                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                                        I don't object to teaching children gardening or cooking or nutrition in schools. We have public gardens in the Twin Cities. One that I can specifically visualize that is right next to a big public housing facility and that is visible from the freeway as head from Minneapolis to St. Paul . I don't know if they are littered with condoms and needles (though I do understand that concern) but they are a source of food and genuine pride for the people who have even that tiny patch of earth to work. Maybe that's pie in the sky, but I support the idea of it.


                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          P.S. speaking of editing, I wish someone would edit my post above and take out some of the random typos! Sorry everyone.


                                                    2. re: thedairyshow

                                                      While you may have a bit of a point, some of her comments were pretty clear. In response to the grape question her answer was to sacrifice. Good produce is worth not buying a second, or first, pair of designer sneakers. Well how does the mother who can't afford those grapes, but is already buying the cheapest shoes she can for kids, sacrifice shoes for food? Not buy shoes at all? (And buying cheaper shoes also opens up another can of worms: where are your shoes being made? Who is being exploited for those cheap shoes?)

                                                      Conceptually I agree with AW. Slow food, local food, fresh food. These are things that should be pursued and are much better, in the long run, for the economy, for health and for happiness. But I also live in a realistic world where inner-city families in Detroit couldn't grow their food year round if they could grow it at all. The farmers market in Syracuse, NY in February isn't that robust. Two working parents with 3 kids cannot take 20 minutes to chop veggies, toast baguette and fry eggs every morning (or sometimes any morning). I appreciate what she wants to happen and I support her push for a vegetable garden at the White House. I think teaching children all about gardening and food at a young age is a fabulous idea. But I also think her expectations should be tempered and some reality must come into play.

                                                      1. re: gastrotect

                                                        I think you and I are saying the same thing about the shoes vs. the grapes in the case of those who can't afford the fancy shoes, let alone two pairs of them (although, I didn't extend it as far as talking about where cheap shoes come from.)

                                                        Also, in addition to your point about how little time families have in the morning when getting their kids ready for school and out the door, I wanted to know more about the environmental impact and energy efficiency of that wood burning fire place she stokes up in the morning to cook a couple of eggs. I'll bet the breakfast was delicious, but it opened up a whole other can of worms in my mind.


                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          To your fire point: that was similarly where I was going with my shoe point. I see her advocating cuts in lifestyle for the sake of food, but in advocating those cuts (or in the case of fire, additions) she is opening another can of worms. I am not one to harp on people for buying shoes from one place or another, but if Alice believes food origination (I know there's a term for this but I can't think of it right now) is important, shouldn't she feel the same about other things as well?

                                                          1. re: gastrotect

                                                            To me, the Nike comment sounded like "We have choices how to spend our money. Some people buy Nike sneakers. I choose pricey grapes." I totally get the not affording shoes or grapes situation, but I took Waters' comment to say whatever discretionary income you have, be it $100 a week or $1 a week, think about where it's going, where your purchase came from, how much satisfaction and/or benefit you will get out of the purchase, etc.

                                                            The message I took from Waters was "do what you can do in your situation," not "do everything I do or else."

                                                            Then again, I was eating a Wendy's-TM junior cheeseburger while watching the segment at lunch today, so maybe I should stay of this.

                                                            1. re: harrie

                                                              HAHAHA! You cheeseburger comment makes me laugh.

                                                              harrie, I think you're right about what AW intended by the Nike comment. She did preface it with something about "choices." And, as someone mentioned before, it's hard to know how this piece was edited.

                                                              But, with Leslie Stahl confronting Alice on whether she was "elitist" and "isn't this expensive?" etc., I just wish Waters had done a better job (or CBS had aired what Alice said, if, in fact she did address this question and it was edited out) of explaining how the poorest of the poor might have access to the kind of fresh, organic food she thinks we all have a right to.

                                                              Maybe she doesn't have answers, just an ideal. And there ought to be room in our world for idealists. I just wish I didn't feel looked down upon for the frozen and canned vegetables I have in my basement.


                                                              1. re: harrie

                                                                oh my god, you just lowered my blood pressure...thanks!!! bwuhahah

                                                                1. re: harrie

                                                                  i agree that the message is "do what you can do in your situation," but I didn't necessarily hear AW say that, though I believe that's what she meant and that's usually the way we try to do things in NJ (where we only get about 6 months of quality produce)... what think AW was saying is that we should make the same choices she make or we obviously don't get it --- doesn't everyone have an unlimited amount of money?

                                                              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                I hadn't read all the way down here before I responded "up thread." The question about the environmental impact of the fire is a good one, especially since Berkeley is trying to make fires illegal. I wonder what she'd do about that? The point about where the cheap shoes come from is also important. As usual I'm conflicted about how I feel about AW. Ah well, who cares? Time to work.

                                                              3. re: gastrotect

                                                                I've never met Alice Waters but I think she is a very smart woman and probably quite aware of reality. She is presenting an ideal vision. Her kitchen was amazing--i'm sure there are very few places like that in the world. Nobody has to be like Alice Water's, but we can try to achieve the goals of slow food, even if we make only small changes in the way we live.

                                                                Now there are a lot of people who CAN afford to make changes in their diets to support food that is good, clean, and fair. This may indeed require making small sacrifices, like not buying a pair of sneakers, as she said. Just because this doesn't apply to everyone doesn't mean we should throw out the idea and say its unrealistic.

                                                                For people who are truly too poor to afford food that is good, clean, and fair, and have nothing to sacrifice, well that points to another issue. We in this country need to support policy change so that all people can afford this type of healthy food. This means changing the way we think about food as a culture and the way our government subsidizes food. These are issue everyone in the slow food movement are keenly aware of and speak about frequently--even though it didn't make it onto 60 minutes last night.


                                                                1. re: gastrotect

                                                                  Just an FYI. Most Nikes are made in China and other part of Asia.

                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    I know. And most Nikes aren't all that expensive either actually. Which was part of my point. If it's really cheap and not of the best quality (Nikes, bad produce, cheez whiz, etc) it probably does not come from the best situation. It's not exclusive to food.

                                                              4. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                I'm jumping in half-way, having not ready through the thread, but I had to come in to support your statement about being unable to afford nikes or 4$ grapes.

                                                                It's obnoxious to frame the choice that way, when for most people its debt (education/health/home) and food. And yes, we have to wear things as well.

                                                                Now, I don't even feel the right to grouse about this because:
                                                                1) I live in a rural area with the occasional access to really good local foods.
                                                                2) I don't have children, so it's significantly easier to manage my budget and experience the sacrifices (good food, for say, replacing clothes I've outgrown...)

                                                                It's unfortunate if 60 minutes contributed to this idea of eating well as a rarefied activity for the upper middle class, but frankly, everyone seems to be doing it these days.

                                                              5. re: c oliver

                                                                I think Alice Waters is idealistic and where would we be without idealistic people? She is very much a part of the dialogue we all share here on CH in the sense that she has gotten many people thinking about things they might not have thought of otherwise (should I buy the tomato grown a few towns over or a few states over? that sort of thing) And I think she has done wonderful things with teaching children where food comes from, how it is grown etc etc. These are really valuable things to learn I think. Like many people, I think she wants to get ideas out there so people start thinking of them and how they can work into their lives. yay alice.

                                                                1. re: cassoulady

                                                                  Thank you, cassoulady. You said it for me. I've been accused more than once in my life of being *too* idealistic. I scoff. If I have to choose "Planet Alice" versus "Planet Top Chef" or some such, I know what flight plan *I'M* filing :)

                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    I just re watched it online, and she said "Everyday we make choices" I think what she is going is getting people to think about their choices.

                                                                2. Alice Waters has single-handedly created a movement that could save our food supply. The point isn't whether someone can afford $4 grapes. (How many of the people that say they can't are out there buying $5 packs of cigarettes?) It's about prioritizing and understanding how important good nutrition is. Many studies have been published that detail the lower levels of nutrients in factory-farmed food. GMO is proliferating every angle of our food supply and we're letting it happen. Why does food taste better in Europe? Because they don't allow agribusiness to pre-empt their health! Organic, heirloom varieties taste better. I am so grateful for Alice Waters and can't wait to see what her next accomplishment is.

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: mouthfuls

                                                                    I have to respond to your cigarette comment. It is pure cop-out. There are tens of thousands of people in this country (probably a lot more actually) that do not smoke and do not buy expensive or even moderately priced clothing/cars/houses/electronics that still cannot afford to spend extra on food. Those people have no wiggle room to sacrifice so that they may buy Bronx seedless grapes. They are already "prioritizing" plenty I would imagine and could not prioritize any more if they wanted to.

                                                                    1. re: mouthfuls

                                                                      Actually, she's not creating any such "movement that could save our food supply." She is living in a world that doesn't think through the macroeconomics of international hunger or even the challenges of feeding our own increasingly urbanized population.
                                                                      Knee-jerk opposition to GMO and other science based advances ignores that they have led to increases in no-till farming that prevent erosion, allowing the buildup of root-derived organic matter in the soil, improving soil structure and rainfall retention, and increasing yields per acre. Global grain output has tripled since the 1970s, making world hunger now a political problem not an agricultural one. This is head-in-the-sand elitism.

                                                                      Please read this thought provoking piece before you jump to Waters defense so blindly.
                                                                      Not to say that everything is completely on target but it should make you question your assumptions. http://www.motherjones.com/environmen...

                                                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                                                        In this post -- at the end of which you accuse another poster of jumping to Alice Waters defense "blindly" -- you get into the macroeconomics of feeding large populations. I have a very simple idea that might work for everyone. How about the Big Food corporations continue to do their work, and Alice Waters continues to do her work, and we view them both as part of what is going on right now, and we see the pros and cons of both... without having to diminish Waters work. Is the premise here that Waters should just give in and pack it up because Big Food is trying to take over the world? Is the premise that local communities growing their own food is not viable? Is this going so far to suggest that we may as well acknowledge that large agribusiness is taking care of the needs of everybody, so don't even bother to plant that spring vegetable garden...

                                                                        1. re: Budget Palate

                                                                          Your simple idea is VERY good.
                                                                          < " How about the Big Food corporations continue to do their work, and Alice Waters continues to do her work, and we view them both as part of what is going on right now, and we see the pros and cons of both... without having to diminish Waters work." >

                                                                          Frankly, agribusiness is increasingly incorporating better ideas from all sides.
                                                                          It seems to be Waters and her ilk that constantly attack and diminish, refusing to see the good that agribusiness does in research and technology, using science to make life better for billions around the world.
                                                                          Contributing to books like "Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture," appearing in anti-corporate films like "Food Fight," and her participation in Food Democracy Now which has declared war on agribusiness and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, certainly puts Waters on the side of those who refuse to see anything on the other side.
                                                                          If they actually shut down agribusiness, how many people would suffer and die?
                                                                          Think it through.

                                                                          Agribusiness adds to our lives but will never take care of all of our needs, much less our desires.
                                                                          I'll keep planting my gardens as I always have.

                                                                      2. re: mouthfuls

                                                                        BTW, mouthfuls, re your belief that "food tastes better in Europe...because they don't allow agribusiness..."
                                                                        How do you classify Bayer, Bunge, Dreyfus, Nestle, Carrefour, Metro, and Tesco to name just a few? They're huge transnationals.
                                                                        Somebody is producing those boxes, cans and frozen foods on supermarket shelves throughout the EU. There's some crap that rivals what we find in the US.
                                                                        How about that beautiful hydroponic produce grown in the Netherlands and the things shipped in from the greenhouses in Israel and other places in the Mediterranean? Some of those operations are large enough that they're providing produce to the greengrocers on the US East Coast.

                                                                      3. <Edit: How much did you want to try that egg cooked in the fireplace over the crispy toast with ripe tomatoes?!>

                                                                        That is truly MY kind of food! I wish I had a fireplace to do that myself. A campfire would do pretty nicely, tho!

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                                                          <Edit: How much did you want to try that egg cooked in the fireplace over the crispy toast with ripe tomatoes?!>

                                                                          Very badly! Monkey see, monkey do, maybe, but I made it for breakfast this morning, seeming as it sounded great! I never had cooked eggs in olive oil, and I used some fresh Italian bread grilled up on the panini press, with some fresh tomatoes tossed in garlic and olive oil on top. It was remarkably delicious!

                                                                          1. re: stratford

                                                                            What do you usually cook your eggs in?

                                                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                                                              Always used butter, never even gave a thought to olive oil, but it does go well with eggs!

                                                                              1. re: stratford

                                                                                Try bacon drippings. MUCH better than olive oil. Comes from the same farm yard. That is terroir!

                                                                        2. I haven't yet seen the piece, but to tie in with TDQ's comments about using frozen foods - yes, perhaps she *does* live in an area where she doesn't get hard freezes and can continually get fresh produce 365/7. However, for her not to state anywhere in the entire piece on 60M that she's aware that not everyone is as lucky as she is to have such bountiful produce year-round is very short-sighted on her part, IMO.

                                                                          Being as the show's interviewer (Lesley Stahl) lives most of the year in the NYC area (I'm assuming, since that's where the show is based), I'd have to believe it would have been left in should AW have said anything about that. But it doesn't seem she did - she just preaches (on this show, in articles, in letters to the White House, etc.) that everyone should do as she does. Well, we can't just wave a magic wand and make New England temperatures the same as Berkeley. As small h said, the "let them eat cake" attitude is rather off-putting.

                                                                          1. In principle I agree with Alice Waters. However up here in the Great White North it is not possible. She "shudders" at the thought of frozen vegetables. Well Alice, my dear, I will give you the same choice as I have. Buy "fresh" vegetables from Mexico where they are watered with water you can't drink and shipped by truck God knows how long, or frozen ones.
                                                                            Happy Birdseye
                                                                            The one thing I noticed in the video, right near the end, is her haughty body language. It definitely said "I am better than you"
                                                                            Don't like her.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: billieboy

                                                                              I agree with you there. I happened to see the 60 minutes spot and thought that Lesley Stahl handled her with kid gloves, journalistically speaking. I find it an insult to my intelligence when a supposed journalist let's a subject control the interview, or rather evades the question. She sounds more like a DC lobbyist than a gastronomical reformer..... and we all know what has happened in our country because of lobbyists.

                                                                            2. I read the comments about AW in this post before I had a chance to watch the 60 Minutes segment. Based on the responses, I was prepared to have as negative a reaction to AW as many of the posters did. However, what I came away with was a sense that AW is an idealist and a visionary, and as such, can never be an actual model for how we normal, non-idealists and non-visionaries live our lives. One thing that's for certain, is that AW has had a profound and positive effect on the American POV on food. When I can go into my local A&P and find a basket of hierloom tomatoes, or organic produce, or anibotic-free meat, I see the hand of AW and I am glad that hand has reached as far as it has. As I look out at my backyard's still-frozen expanse, I know that I will never live as she does, but I cannot resent her idealism since I feel that her love of food and the posibility of garden-fresh food has helped all of America get re-acquainted with all the Farmer Johns near-by via the proliferation of Farmer's Markets. If I waited for garden-fresh peas, I would rarely if ever have any, so I still appreciate my freezer and my microwave, but I understand how someone would eschew those trappings if they had unlimited access to fresh, local foods.

                                                                              47 Replies
                                                                              1. re: roxlet

                                                                                Here here. Whatever case she tried to make about "good" food being everyone's "right" was undone by the sheer luxury of her life, the limits of her location (Bay area), her tone deaf style, and her narrow vision of alternatives. I agree totally about the importance of the kind of eating she's helped to establish, and take pleasure in buying and cooking and eating this way. But I'd venture that her canon of choices is not the only one: a working or poor family can eat well without worrying about heirloom tomatoes. Any decently stocked conventional supermarket can offer a wide range of decent produce, meats, cheese, and other foods as well as horribly processed, expensive stuff. The choice is not, for most people I think, either poptarts/frozentenders or diver scallops caught right offshore 6 minutes ago followed by a $25/lb artisanal goat cheese. It's between expensive, prepared junk and, say, sound, simple, unprocessed, staples, like ordinary dried red beans made easily into a soup followed by simple baked chicken, with some fresh fruit. If she'd only made the point that alternatives, however imperfect, are indeed out there--even, gasp, in a rural Georgia Kroeger's--she'd carry more moral weight. Because the solutions would be possible for many more people: that's the only way real change happens.

                                                                                1. re: bob96

                                                                                  That would be ideal if someone would step into the void and show how people w/ lesser means can cook better. I volunteer at a community action center where they do have a dietician come in to talk about nutrition and a chef comes in to talk about simple delicious meals that can be prepared by food they can get from the pantry (which is very limited and requires creativity w/ all the cans). But, just because there is a void doesn't mean that AW is a bad person for not filling it. No one has. Few of us are carrying that moral weight. Criticizing AW would be like criticizing say a personal trainer to rich people. They could be doing more but so could everyone else.

                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                    check this out.
                                                                                    washington state chefs, created a cookbook based on ingredients found on the shelves of a food bank.
                                                                                    comment was that some foodbank clients just didn't know what to do with some of the products or didn't think they would like it.
                                                                                    i'm planning on send these out as christmas presents this year, in support of the program.

                                                                                    1. re: ritabwh

                                                                                      What a great idea!

                                                                                      "It has to start somewhere. It has to start sometime.
                                                                                      What better place than here, what better time than now?"

                                                                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                        Again, this is new?
                                                                                        One of my faves is "Down Home Healty - Family Recipes of Black American Chefs" by Leah Chase. Yeah. That Leah Chase of the famous Dookey Chase's in New Orleans who adapted classsic creole and soul recipes to heart-healthy versions without any loss of flavor or "soul" for the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute. (yeah, more clients)
                                                                                        We passed out thousands of these at health fairs, farmers' markets, churches, and by mail.
                                                                                        NIH Publication No. 93-3408/February 1993 - I have no idea if they still make it available.

                                                                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                          Who cares if it's new? It's a good idea. No more, no less.

                                                                                          1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                            I agree with kattyeyes! What a fantastic idea! And I agree that it doesn't matter if it's new, it's wonderful. MakingSense's project sounds fantastic, too. Seriously, there are few new ideas under the sun. Only new ways of introducing them to people or applying the ideas. I certainly never thought Alice Waters was the first person in history to decide to eat fresh vegetables.

                                                                                            My objection to what came out of this AW interview was not that her ideas aren't new. I'm not quibbling about the magnitude of contributions, whether it's right to call her a revolutionary, or whether her ideas are as fresh as the vegetables she prefers, my objection was the visceral hurt I felt when my hero, Alice Waters, cringed disgustedly, on national TV, at the idea of frozen vegetables when they might be the best option for many people in the U.S., for me anyway, and around the world certain times of the year.

                                                                                            I buy into the whole "movement" of fresh and local and, here's the key, IN SEASON. (Sure, we can grow "local" hydroponic lettuce and tomatoes in MN right now, but they aren't sun-raised and one has to seriously wonder what the energy demands of that process is when it's 10 below outside).

                                                                                            I put a lot of effort into buying beautiful, fresh produce from my CSA, co-ops, farmers' markets and by going out to the farms and orchards directly, when it was in season, and preserving it. Canning it, freezing or cellaring it. I rode my bike to pick up my produce from my CSA drop site, to supplement my groceries from my local co-op, and to my library to check-out books on food preservation. I thought I was living the principles of the slow food movement. And Alice snubbed me as if I'd driven an SUV to Target and chosen to buy TWO pairs of Nikes, instead of spending my precious short Minnesotan summer in the kitchen slaving over a pressure canner. If what I'm doing is so misguided, instead of cringing at my few options, maybe she ought to get her French-trained, professional chef, teacher-of-slow-food-principles self in gear and teach me how to do better.

                                                                                            It's rude to look at another's plate and express disgust at what they're eating. And this felt no different. I was crushed. My husband called in me from the kitchen where I was preparing my pathetic dinner of sauerkraut and sweet potatoes to watch my hero, who in less than 20 minutes, in just a look really, made me feel like a fool. I think a real leader finds ways to lift people, rather than stomp on them.

                                                                                            I'm objecting mostly to this one moment in the interview. And if she is allowed to expressed her true, inner feelings of disgust towards frozen vegetables, I think it's fair for me to express my true, inner reaction about how it felt to be looked down on.


                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                              Well put, DQ. AW is simply living in LaLa Land. She makes good people feel bad.

                                                                                              The REAL light bulb went off in my head when I read one simple idea from Michael Pollan: Eat like your grandmother did.
                                                                                              Now, because I'm 60, that might make much better sense than for a lot of the younger CHs. My grandmother lived without electricity, indoor plumbing, or running water. She cooked on a wood stove. Not that long ago in FDR's America. The 20s and 30s.
                                                                                              No, I ain't living like that.
                                                                                              But she lived with the seasons, put food by, lived off the land, and fed her family simple food for which everyone was grateful.
                                                                                              My options are gloriously wider but the battle now is to keep it simple. Appreciate the best of what is there at hand. Conserve. Be aware. Pass it on. Be at peace.
                                                                                              AW thinks this is new and rare. It's old and common.
                                                                                              She's on a mission. There are a lot of people who just live like this. Big deal.

                                                                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                Funny thing is, if you agree with Pollan -- eat like your grandmother did -- you might find yourself agreeing with many of Waters' practices as well.

                                                                                                Not sure how correct it is to say that Waters thinks this is new and different. I'd have to hear her say that or see it implied in her attitude to see it. Waters may well be aware that these things aren't new and different, may well be aware that these are traditions from the past. She may be aware that the industrial revolution and the advent of Big Food has erased these traditions in many communities. Probably, she just sees a need to publicly let people know -- people who may not have been exposed to it - that we can return to these ways of eating that have sustained humanity for thousands of years. i realize that there are places all over America where people are still carrying on these traditions, "putting food by" etc, but there are places all over America where those traditions have been lost. Perhaps it towards that second group that Waters feels the need to bring her message.

                                                                                              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                You are expressing the same disgust for frozen vegetables. Any 'hound would. They are inferior to fresh and we all know it. Like you, I have no choice but to consume them occasionally. That doesn't make them taste any better. Don't let envy jade your opinion, just do what you can to appreciate what you have when you have it.

                                                                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                  I haven't expressed any disgust for frozen vegetables. Maybe it's a minority viewpoint, but, I think if you take really high quality vegetables at their peak and handle them properly, they can be very good. They are 1000 times better than the "fresh" ones we get from California or Mexico or South America this time of year.

                                                                                                  But, I agree with the rest of your point.


                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                    Sure, they can be very good, but not the same as minutes out of the ground. As I posted below, a true food geek takes advantage of the maximum "yum" whenever possible. If I go fishing in the morning and am lucky enough to catch a striped bass, I am going to clean and cook it as soon as possible. It doesn't matter what I may have been planning for dinner, etc. Every minute that fish is out of the water it's taste quality deteriorates. Hell, I mix wasabi paste or aoli and eat it with the raw scraps after I clean the fish!

                                                                                                    I think that's the point and I don't understand why any 'hound would dissent. Delicious is delicious, let's not begrudge those who have better access to something tasty because we may not.

                                                                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                      I don't think anyone is dissenting when it comes to finding the most delicious foods available at any given time and place. The frustration I feel (and from what I've read while lurking on this thread many others feel the same way) comes from AW's refusal/inability to express any awareness that 100% fresh from the backyard garden 24/7/365 just isn't a viable option for most people. She sets the bar too high. Idealism is good, we need to set the bar high, but when it's out of reach for the vast majority of the population then that fact needs to be acknowledge, otherwise people give up or never even try. In all the AW interviews I've seen and read (admittedly not all of them, but a lot) I have never heard her acknowledge that her geographic and climatic situation makes it easier to achieve what she has. It's the same frustration I feel when I talk to friends who live in CA, who go on and on about how cheap it is to get fresh produce year round - maybe for them, but for people in other parts of the country, or even other parts of the same city if they can't access the markets in a safe and efficient manner.

                                                                                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                      And frozen are a damn sight better than canned, except for canned corn, which is OK - but anything else is just dreck, IMO.

                                                                                                    3. re: MGZ

                                                                                                      have you ever tried freezing or putting up anything from your garden? My fresh frozen peas from my garden, processed and frozen a mere hour and a half after harvest, are much better than some fresh peas that have traveled in the back of a hot pickup truck to our local farmers market.

                                                                                            2. re: ritabwh

                                                                                              I love the iron chef type idea of that. I'd love to see what the chefs created. That food bank is far better stocked than the one where I volunteer. It's great that they get that type of produce, and salmon would be a special treat. We get the basics but with the odd assortment thrown in. We once had a huge batch of frog legs that no one would take. We do have a chef and a dietician come in to talk to the clients. And, that helps tremendously with food pantry clients but there are more people out there who could use help along those lines. And, I don't mean just people w/out means. People I know who have money are far bigger consumers of processed foods, because of the cost.

                                                                                        2. re: roxlet

                                                                                          Well said. We could all pan Jacques Pepin because he encourages us to cook, instead of buying fast tood, or any cook who shows us how to make our own pasta, bread, etc. It's not the reality for most people. But, that doesn't mean they're wrong for showing what can be done. The same can be said for anyone who teaches. Should I feel bad for teaching calculus when it's beyond what some might comprehend or have the means to learn? I can't live up to the ideals of Alice Waters, Jacques Pepin, Stephen Hawkings but it opens my eyes and education is not a bad thing.

                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                            of the two, I'd have to say that Pepin is much more attuned to the realities of the world even when showing me how to make my own mustard, bread, burgers, salads... AW just didn't come off with the same connection to common man ... there's doing it all on your own, and then there's raving about expensive organics while lecturing me about the choices I make

                                                                                            1. re: aklein

                                                                                              Several have mentioned AW shuddering at the mention of frozen vegetables. In contrast, Pepin writes in 'The Short-cut cook' 1990 'Frozen tiny peas are one of the best vegetables on the market...' That book has 4 recipes using these peas.

                                                                                              In a recipe for mashed potatoes and garlic, he writes 'if you are in a hurry, with an equal amount of packaged frozen hash-brown potatoes'.

                                                                                              He makes a Gateau Claudine (named after his daughter) with instant vanilla pudding and sponge cake (home made or store bought). Move over Miss 'Semi-homemade'!

                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                OUCH re your last sentence. But bet you what's left of my bank account Monsieur Pepin didn't dump a can of apple pie filling in the middle of it, sprinkle it with corn nuts, plant oversized tapers in it and deem it a festive harvest cake.

                                                                                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                  Quite true, he has much more class. He fills the middle with pudding, decorates it with stars and violets.

                                                                                                  "Decorate it as elaborately as you like;
                                                                                                  - there is ample vanilla cream to cover the middle and outside of the cake,
                                                                                                  - and enough left over to pipe on some additional decorations from a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.
                                                                                                  - Candied fruit or violets also make an attractive and festive addition to the decorations."

                                                                                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                    did you see that video clip? I'll give her a lot of credit, but that show is as frightening as bacon-egg-cheeseburgers on glazed donuts (well, maybe more so)

                                                                                                    1. re: aklein

                                                                                                      If you're discussing the 60 Minutes segment, what was so frightening to you? This thread has calmed down alot and, if it's going to continue, don't you think it should stay that way? I've never had or even seen a bacon-egg-cheeseburger but I'll keep an eye out. Sounds great. And don't take away my once every year or two Krispy Kreme :) I must have a very high fear threshhold!

                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                        no, i was referring to the previous post (kattyeyes), which I'm fairly certain was about Sandra Lee's infamous Kwannza Cake clip that has made the rounds

                                                                                                        1. re: aklein

                                                                                                          Ah, thanks. I missed that one. Sounds like a good thing :)

                                                                                                      2. re: aklein

                                                                                                        aklein: Yeah, Sandra Lee's show is indeed frightening. I only know of the Kwanzaa cake from these boards, but OMG, what a train wreck! I don't watch her--I notice she's on and turn the channel. I don't do tablescapes. ;)

                                                                                                        c oliver, LOL, nothing was frightening about AW on 60 Minutes other than some of the negative feedback it elicited here over the past week and counting...and not really frightening, of course, but surprising. Like you, I'm glad it's calmed down.

                                                                                                        1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                          Personally I don't find being confronted with viewpoints that are different from my own frightening or surprising. As long as the discussion stays civil and chowhoundish I am grateful for a forum where people with different perspectives and life experiences can share their viewpoints. I have more to learn from people who think differently from me than from people who agree with me.

                                                                                                          In fact, I think a world where everyone agrees all the time to the point where people are made to feel like there is something wrong with them for having expressed an opposing viewpoint more scary. It ought to be okay to disagree. It ought to be okay to say, "Hey, I think cooking an egg on a spoon over a fireplace conflicts with my values regarding energy efficiency or air pollution, and that's relevant to a discussion of sustainability" or "Hey, I remember a time when my family couldn't afford $4 grapes or a pair of new sneakers, let alone two, and I worry about how the most disenfranchised among us fit into this wonderful idyllic vision, which is relevant to a discussion about elitism" or, "Hey, it rubs me the wrong way when someone shudders at frozen vegetables, a mainstay of my diet 3-4 months out of the year, whether someone shuddered at them on camera or someone is reported by a member of the press to have shuddered at them" without fear of being branded frightening for having an opposing viewpoint. Similarly, it ought to be okay to say, "I find this woman and her ideas inspiring" and feel respected and listened to.

                                                                                                          Conversation is good. Dissent is good. Even when you're talking about a folk hero like Alice Waters. And now, I think I shall go read Art of Simple Food, because I think Ms. Waters knows great food, and, at the end of the day, that's what unites us here on Chowhound.


                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                            TDQ, I was being somewhat tongue-in-cheek playing off of c oliver's "If you're discussing the 60 Minutes segment, what was so frightening to you?" As the OP, color me naive, I really was surprised to find so much negative feedback on the AW clip. I thought, "Gee, Alice Waters! I've heard so many people talk about her here on CH. I'll bet those who didn't catch this on 60 Minutes will be thrilled to see it here." Seriously! I was drawn to the egg in the fireplace and thought, "My, that looks sooooooooo good." I didn't think that was a mandate on how I personally should cook eggs each day. I have a microwave. I use it daily. But I was also drawn to Alice Waters' idea that good, fresh food shouldn't be a luxury, but a right (I'm paraphrasing from memory--please go easy on me if that's not precisely what she said). I do believe our exposure to various chemicals is killing us or making us awfully sick. To think that taking steps toward fresher healthier food has positive outcomes for all--that's what I took away from it. I didn't take offense at Leslie Stahl's voice-over that "Alice Waters shudders at the mention of frozen vegetables." I have lived in the nutmeg state (CT) my entire life (so far!) and frozen vegetables are part of the plan in my neck of the woods. I did take away that we can all make small changes where we can and where it makes sense. I'm not giving up my New Balance sneakers (not Nikes!), but for a long time, I've made an effort NOT to eat many processed foods. Not because of AW, btw, but based on various things I've read and learned. I am not always a good girl. I did recently buy a box of Cap'n Crunch and I DID buy it because I read it could be used as a coating for chicken with panko (also here on CH!)...and it was damn good! But, bottom line, I didn't expect to read a week's worth of negative reactions to what I thought were positive ideas in the AW 60 Minutes segment. That was a learning experience...but I was, in fact, surprised...it's a real, genuine emotion. No more, no less. Conversation IS great. And we see dissent every day. But when you think someone's talking about something you saw as positive, wouldn't you find it surprising when people would think exactly the opposite? That's all. Nothing personal. Just my own POV.

                                                                                                            1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                              I apologize in advance for the length of this post.

                                                                                                              Hi kattyeyes, yes, now that I read through your post, I agree that I would be surprised under similar circumstances. Even though I may not necessarily I agree with you on every single point (and I do agree with many of the points you made), I am glad you started this thread.

                                                                                                              I have been a "fan" (seems like a strong word, but it's the one that comes to mind at the moment) of Alice Waters' work for a long time. I've eaten at her restaurant, own several of her books, and follow her in the media when I can.

                                                                                                              I've heard the criticism over the years that she's an elitist and dismissed it. So, I was saddened (and yes, maybe even surprised) when Stahl gave Waters an opportunity to respond to that criticism on camera, and then later re-opened the issue by asking about the grapes, and Waters', in my opinion, did a poor job convincing even me, a fan, that she's not an elitist. The question of accessibility and affordability comes up all the time in discussions about organics and sustainability and I think it's an appropriate question for a journalist to ask, and one Waters should have anticipated been prepared for.

                                                                                                              Even though I do believe Waters sincerely wishes everyone could eat the way she advocates, I was left with the impression that her opinion, and not just by what she said, but also by some of her actions on camera [cooking the egg over a fireplace which she has got to know is an experience everyone can't share], "poor people eat lousy, processed food because they choose to" vibe from her [and by the way, that is absolutely not what she said and I'll admit that it's quite a leap in terms of a conclusion, but that's ultimately my take-away.]

                                                                                                              I volunteer in a soup kitchen, I deliver food to homeless shelters, and have had some personal life experiences that lead me to conclude that poor people don't eat lousy food because they choose to. Some people, poor, rich or otherwise, do of course choose to, but not everyone.

                                                                                                              We have a public marketplace in Minneapolis called Midtown Global Market. http://www.midtownglobalmarket.org/ This market was funded, in part, by public funds. It's in an urban, distressed (but hopefully up and coming) neighborhood in Minneapolis where a lot of recent immigrants live and it's on the bus line. About a year ago I was shopping for vegetables at one of the stands there and a woman, with her three children in tow, walked up to the cashier with a basket of fresh vegetables and asked if they accepted WIC, and the cashier responded "no." I wanted to cry. Here, the citizens of Minneapolis paid for this big market to be built right in this woman's neighborhood and she can't afford to shop there, even if she chose to. I think her next closest option for groceries in the neighborhood would be an Aldis about 12 blocks away, a convenience store and a couple of small ethnic markets.

                                                                                                              So, while I believe that Alice Waters sincerely wishes we'd all choose to eat wonderful fresh vegetables, I was saddened that she thinks it's a simple matter of choice, because it isn't always. I think she sidestepped the question and I was disappointed by that because it makes me think she either doesn't care or doesn't understand.

                                                                                                              And regarding the matter of the egg over the fireplace. It was absolutely a wonderfully luxurious meal. I wish I had been at the table in Leslie Stahl's place. I think Waters wanted to show off what food --even a simple egg--can be like when it's at its absolute best. But, I also think she missed an opportunity there to teach something, and I was disappointed by that. I wish she'd taken that moment to show, on camera, something we could all do. Also, I've read "Art of Simple Food" (and re-read part of it last night). She introduces nine guiding principles, including "Eat locally and sustainably," which she further describes "Seek out...fruits and vegetable from small, local producers who take care of the land" and "Buy eggs, meat and fish from producers whose practices are organic, humane and environmentally sound." Another of her principles is "Conserve, compost, and recycle". I was stunned by the fireplace moment because I thought, wow, why work so hard to find vegetables that are sustainably produced and compost the leftovers, but cook them using such a extravagant, environmentally unfriendly, unsustainable method? It seemed wasteful and contrary to her principles and, well, a little hypocritical and, yes, maybe even elitist. As in "I cook this way because I can." [again, my interpretation. Certainly not something Waters actually said.].

                                                                                                              Overall, the interview left me with a different impression of Alice Waters than I started with.

                                                                                                              Regarding the issues of frozen vegetables, I've decided to let that go. Maybe it was an overreaction on my part; maybe that topic was not presented fairly in the interview. In hindsight I do believe that she was likely reacting to a question regarding cooking with frozen vegetables at Chez Panisse. In AofSF, another of the 9 principles is to "Eat Seasonably" and she does mention that food can be stored, dried, and canned (she doesn't mention frozen, though) for the winter months. She does mention freezing stock etc. in other places in the book.

                                                                                                              Anyway, I guess what I learned personally from the 60 minutes interview is that even when you admire someone's accomplishments, and even when you agree with them on many things, there can be limits. But, I also agree that your interpretation of Waters' message, was probably the take-away she intended, and is a valuable message. But, I do think that I have some new-found concerns about whether Waters' really is a person with sufficient depth of understanding to be advocating on matters of food policy on a national level.

                                                                                                              Regarding your use of the microwave: According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, by the way, the microwave is one of the most energy efficient kitchen appliances (the crockpot and toaster oven are also up there). I have Barbara Kafka's cookbook Microwave Gourmet and one of these days, likely during the summer when it's too hot to cook using conventional means, I'm going to try to really cook with it.


                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                  Just learned something. I tried to post "Brilliant!" to you but got a message, "Duplicate post" and rejection of the posting.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                    Ha! Funny!

                                                                                                                    Well, I'm glad I make sense to someone!


                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                      : )
                                                                                                                      I made it to the part about the veg market -- and had no idea that grocery stores were allowed NOT to accept WIC. Maybe because of where I live, but everywhere I've shopped (famer's markets included) accepts food stamps.

                                                                                                                      1. re: pitu

                                                                                                                        I completely understand if you couldn't remain awake for the entire post. ;-)

                                                                                                                        That's fantastic that even the farmers markets near you accept food stamps. Sadly, I assume there must be enough businesses in the Twin Cities that don't accept WIC or the woman wouldn't have thought to ask. I don't really know the rules, but I was sad that she couldn't buy her vegetables.


                                                                                                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                    I did not watch the segment, but I found your posts very interesting. Maybe it is because I agree with you... I dunno.

                                                                                                                    I saw that she was doing a piece on the White House planting a garden. Perhaps Mrs. Obama should have given her a tour of DC - maybe in particular the Eastern portion of DC. Try to find a fresh vegetable or a frozen vegetable on the East side. It is really hard to find fresh veggies in the city. Sometimes they are available, but they are wilted, iffy and very expensive. You have to drive outside the city limits to the Safeway that is depressing and only one notch above what is available in town.

                                                                                                                    Same goes for any part of a larger town that is iffy safety wise. Markets and green grocers do not set up shop. Small convenient stores do and they take WIC.

                                                                                                                    There is an embarrasement of riches in the SF area. It is known as the garden basket of America. No snow to contend with. When I hear these people who seem to have no notion of what normal is and look down their nose at people who buy non free range hen eggs, penned pig products and veggies grown by some shmo with whom you have not shared a glass of perfectly crafted chardonnay (local of course) with while discussing the crop and your slow food concoction... I want to scream.

                                                                                                                    Sort of like the gem who will come after me to correct my run-on, ill thought out sentences.

                                                                                                                    Buy what you can afford, try to put the best inside you and your loved ones. Why can't they say that? Frozen veggies - same nutrition as the ones picked up at the farmers market.

                                                                                                                    Slow cooking... give me a break. it is called breaking out the crock pot, letting the meat and veggies perk away in the oven for a spell. What a revelation.

                                                                                                                    Today I bought the perfect peach, the perfect papaya and a 10 pound bag of picked at their prime green beans flash frozen and shipped directly to me. Thank you Costco.

                                                                                                    2. re: roxlet

                                                                                                      I was also a little surprised by some of the responses, which I wouldn't have expected on a food-devoted website. She is idealist, maybe even extremist, but it's still good that there's an Alice Waters out there making an impact. You can disagree with some of what she says, or think she is condescending etc, and still appreciate what she has done, what she is trying to do. This is a woman who put kids to work growing and eating their own food. I think she gets respect for that alone.

                                                                                                      1. re: Budget Palate

                                                                                                        I don't think that anyone here doesn't respect her or appreciate what she has done in the past 30+ years. It's just her reality is not everyone's reality, and that's the issue that some people are bringing up.

                                                                                                        It's great that she wants everyone to aspire to what she has done. But that is beyond the means of many people - be it because of cost, location in the country (i.e., dealing with frozen ground for 5 months of the year), etc.

                                                                                                        If there had been some kind of clarification as to understanding what many of us deal with on a daily basis (from a cost/location/ability to grow our own food or buy it local ALL the time standpoint) in this 60 Minutes story, I don't think the reaction would have been what it has been.

                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit


                                                                                                          I have grown quite tired of the "if I can do it, so can you" manta. It is so easy to tell people to give up their sneakers and eat $4/lb grapes when you have a custom built kitchen complete with fireplace and plenty of room to have a sprawling garden where you can harvest everything you need for the evening just outside your door.

                                                                                                          The funniest comment I heard so far regarding the interview was that AW came across as the Leona Helmsley of the Slow Food Movement.

                                                                                                          While an exaggeration, the point was made.

                                                                                                          1. re: Seth Chadwick

                                                                                                            It's not a sprawling garden.

                                                                                                            The comparison to LH, while funny, makes very little sense.

                                                                                                          2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                            This may sound bizarre, but what I have been thinking of is Jesus. Now, I'm not a particularly religious person, but if you want to look at idealistic extremism, you need look no further than the bible. What I'm getting at here is that Jesus doesn't say do these things sometimes, when it's convenient, but do them all the time, every day. Few people do, and I regard people who take religious precepts to the extreme as misguided at best. AW is a little like that: you can't really live by all her precepts, but by taking a few of them literally, you can live better and certainly eat better. LindaWhit said "If there had been some kind of clarification as to understanding what many of us deal with on a daily basis" and she's right, but again, the thing that popped into my head was religion and religious precepts. AW is a "True Believer," and as such, her POV will always be at the pure and extreme end of the spectrum, and not in the world where most of us live. I'm OK with that, and think that her extremism has, in some ways, made my world a better place.

                                                                                                            1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                              Let's take it a bit farther: Jesus never assumed it would be easy. AW seems to make no concessions in that regard. She seems to be saying: this isn't all that difficult, anyone can have a garden or make a nice breakfast. She says give up extra sneakers as if everyone gets to choose. If you compare that sort of message to Jesus' you see that Jesus does not sugarcoat it. He regularly spoke about how hard following him would be. Devoting yourself might mean giving up your home or your job. He asked monumental things of people, but he also understand the severity of what he was asking. I cannot believe we are comparing the two, but since we are, I do not see that understanding in AW. I appreciate what she does and I think it is incredibly important and valuable; I just don't think she realizes how difficult her idealism to attain.

                                                                                                              1. re: gastrotect

                                                                                                                Well...maybe. But what I was mainly getting at here was the concept of a True Believer -- someone who has a messianic sense of his or her mission. Whether or not that ideal is attainable-- or easy -- seems to me to be less important than the absolute certainty with which the ideals are pursued and the certainty that those ideals are The Way (to mix religious metaphores here).

                                                                                                          3. re: Budget Palate

                                                                                                            < "This is a woman who put kids to work growing and eating their own food." >

                                                                                                            This is hardly something Waters dreamed up. Kids have been gardening alongside their own parents and grandparents forever and gardens have always been a teaching tool. This is aside from those who grew up on farms, millions of 4-H club members and kids who got scouting badges for gardening projects over the years.

                                                                                                            There has been a very active Youth Garden at the US National Arboretum in Washington, DC, since 1971 (is that before Waters even got started in the business?) that was founded to work with inner-city kids. The Arboretum is part of the USDA but the garden is now run by volunteers from the Friends of the National Arboretum, a former client of mine. They work with the Master Gardener Program to spread these programs to other places.

                                                                                                            Waters gets a great deal of publicity in the food world but these programs have been around for a very long time.
                                                                                                            Maybe that's why some people think she's condescending. They wonder where she's been that she didn't notice what they were doing all this time.

                                                                                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                              I agree completely with the statement that she gets a great deal of publicity, almost every time she speaks. It is the old hippy guard that is allowing this voice, one of complete idealism. Making Sense is really making the most sense of all of this hoopla, the Leslie Stahl idolitry gooshiness. Yes, her ideas have merit. But I know she procurs a lot of food from Chino Ranch in southern California, not locally, cooking food over wood is not very good for the trees or the air we breathe, and Jonathon Waxman of Stars in San Francisco really started California Cuisine. Please continue to make sense, Making Sense. There has been gardeners, integrated pest managers, local food, wild food, home cooks, restaurant masters, putting food by, without all the psuedo celebrity publicity that AW seeks and stuffs down our throats. Read her menus, they are not so local, or seasonal every minute of every day. They are the best of what she can procur, whether it is lobsters from her Maine connection, or tomatos from Chino Ranch near San Diego, many many miles from Chez Panisse.

                                                                                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                I only have one thing to say...I'd rather eat with Making Sense than Alice Waters any day. You make a lot of sense, MS! Thanks for your well thought out posts.

                                                                                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                  You provide some pretty interesting information on these different programs.

                                                                                                                  However, my point was that Waters work has been valuable, has been a contribution. It does not have to be the first. You seem to want to apply an extra standard -- that her work be the first of its kind -- in order for someone to appreciate it. You imply that Waters has not noticed or does not wish to notice the work of others. I would need to see more concrete evidence of this. Unless Waters herself, or someone in this thread, has claimed that Waters was the first in her work, then your statements about it are irrelevant.

                                                                                                            2. I have not yet seen the 60 Minutes segment yet, although, we do have it on our DVR list. In the meanwhile...

                                                                                                              AW co-authored a piece in the Op-Ed pages of New York's Daily News this weekend. Which I will get to in a minute....

                                                                                                              I am one of those people, who feels that Alice's POV is often lofty and unrealistic for many Americans. I live in a VERY multi-cultural, urban community of people of diverse financial means. I visit the grocery stores daily for my meals, picking up "fresh" produce (it probably comes from Chile or if we are lucky, CA or ME), and meat at the butcher or seafood at the fish store. But, I am sure that it is in no way local. But that is what is available in my neighborhood. For a few months a year, I make my Saturday pilgrimage to the Greenmarket, but most of the time in NYC winter, I walk a few blocks to pick up my days groceries. And walk I do, because I don't have a car and there is only so far and so often you can schlep a cart. Would I love to have local produce? Sure. But it just is not much if an option for me. And if it is not an option for me, then it is CERTAINLY not an option for the many, many people I stand on line behind paying for their groceries with WIC Benefits cards. Or the people who probably already work two jobs to pay their rent and child care and don't really have much time (or property!) to tend to their own l'il garden.

                                                                                                              That said, upon seeing that the Op-Ed piece was written by Alice, I was already rolling my eyes about what she was going to say to me and the struggling people of Queens, NY. I was actually pleasantly surprised. She does talk about supporting local farmers, etc., a bit near the end. But she did not preach it - mostly the point was in tough economic times do not fall into the fast food trap. I thought it was a refreshing statement from her, to not belabor the slow food ethos, but to just say, "Hey, people, it is common sense and healthier and more fun to pick up a roasting chicken and a bag of rice and some veggies from the market than buy that $15 meal at KFC". I actually did not know she had it in her. But am pretty glad she does.


                                                                                                              1. As a side note, I live in Boston. We dont have a whole lot growing here in winter. One thing I do though, is when I have lots of fresh things, like local corn in August, I scrape it off the cob and freeze it for winter. Same with beans and peas. I certainly can not live like AW does, but she has inspired me to do little things like that.

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: cassoulady

                                                                                                                  <I certainly can not live like AW does, but she has inspired me to do little things like that.>

                                                                                                                  And I think AW would think that's great. I understand that she lives in the optimum climate for doing what she does (and now has all the money she needs to do whatever she wants), but I don't necessarily think that AW intends we should all be meeting her example -- more like we should do what we can with what we have. If we feel like it.

                                                                                                                  So I guess I'm the only one with a winter farmers' market that takes WIC and food stamps? Plus, I live in an urban area (in southern New England) but pay $10 for a 25x35 garden plot every summer; we're still working on our potatoes and onions from last year, and finished our kale and winter squash in January. It's not always impossible to eat well -- in both a tasty and nutritional way -- on a budget.

                                                                                                                  1. re: harrie

                                                                                                                    Many interesting replies here on AW.
                                                                                                                    I did catch the interview. My two cents. She isn't doing anything that the French, along with most Europeans, haven't been doing for years. She is promoting natural, non-processed foods. That's it. Although I do like that she is spreading the word about using local produce, blah, blah, blah..she is doing it in a smug, rather than charming way. Perhaps that is what her personality is like. She is an extremely fortunate woman to have a hearth in her kitchen and to be able to whip up eggs in the fireplace--I'm envious--oh would I love to be able to do that. But on the other hand she IS slightly out of touch. I really cannot speak for others, but when my kids were younger, they preferred certain frozen veggies to fresh. I would rather give my kids frozen veggies than none at all--and I can assure you most moms with younger kids would feel the same.

                                                                                                                    1. re: jarona

                                                                                                                      Not only responding to you, jerona, but to others as well...............I really need to look for more interviews or writing by AW. I've never picked up any of this attitude from her. She is, admittedly, a reserved personality but I don't think she necessarily has to qualify her work or advice to legitimize it. Has anyone ever seen her answer to a question like "would you advise 'fresh or none at all'"? Show me a Yes to that and I'll join the 'tude group.

                                                                                                                2. Dinner tonight:: Fresh heirloom carrots, local dug potatoes, wild salmon and some wonderful Oregon Pinot Noir. Not to tough eating locally and well (salmon did come from Alaska however)

                                                                                                                  1. Did anyone else take issue with the fact that CBS called her the founder of the Slow Foods movement? I was appalled by the lack of journalism indicated by that statement. The Slow Food movement was started in Italy by Carlo Petrini. While Alice has undoubtedly contributed to the growth of the movement in the U.S. she is in no way the founder. This hung me up at the start of the interview and I had a hard time believing the rest of it after that.

                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Phoo_d

                                                                                                                      Well they didn't actually call her the 'founder' they called her the 'mother'. Your point is well-taken but she has certainly 'mothered' the movement in the US. From the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, definition#3: "maternal tenderness or affection".

                                                                                                                      1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                        I don't associate Alice Waters with the Slow Food movement, per se. I associate her with the "buy local" movement. They're different things. Given that Slow Food grew up separately from Alice, it seemed a stretch for 60 Minutes to link her with it. I didn't think she came off all that well in the story, because 60 Minutes has always got to have a "gotcha" moment and it's hard to "gotcha" Alice Waters.

                                                                                                                        1. re: brendastarlet

                                                                                                                          I agree. I thought the whole 60 Minutes story was one big missed opportunity.
                                                                                                                          CBS set up a "Saint Alice" so they could knock on Saint Alice.
                                                                                                                          Stahl *could* have engaged Waters on grassroots sustainability issues, organic food standards, whatever -- plenty of hard news topics to pursue instead of a dopey profile where they follow her around making pretty pictures (mmmmm, fire poached egg, AW pls make my breakfast!) while trying to poke her about elitism. Crappy journalism imho.

                                                                                                                          Waters is part of a very broad movement, that philosophically includes plenty of immigrant folks growing their own food in community and home gardens like they did in the old country. Most of America was doing this before the 50s for pete's sake.

                                                                                                                          1. re: pitu

                                                                                                                            Stahl was doing a puff piece about a "food icon." It's unlikely that she could have engaged Waters in an meaningful conversation of food policy. Do you honestly think that Waters reads the Federal Register or Congressional Quarterly? It's not even likely that Stahl does. She's a generalist.
                                                                                                                            The issues are ridiculously complicated, well beyond cooking an egg in the fireplace. Didn't you wonder how often Waters actually does that or was it just for the TV shot? The egg looked a little tough around the edges for my taste frankly.

                                                                                                                            At its basis, this whole frigging thing is goofy. As you say, it ignores that millions of American buy Burpee's seeds and vegetable seedlings every year. They're at Home Depot.
                                                                                                                            Remember The Godfather himself working on his homegrown tomatoes? All those fabulous gardens in backyards around America. The hardscrabble patches of collards in Southern swept yards. Housewives still putting food by. I made jelly today with rosemary from my daughter's garden. We pick blackberries in the woods. People hunt and fish. We eat what we kill, gather, and grow. The vegetable garden behind my Vietnamese sister-in-law's family home provides food as fresh as anything that Waters harvests. She never shows up at a family gathering without some wonderful specialty that adds a new dimension to our traditional Louisiana fare.
                                                                                                                            America has always found it, grown it, welcomed it, and made it its own.

                                                                                                                            This is only strange to foodwriters from the New York Times because they've lost touch with real America.

                                                                                                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                              How "goofy" is this "whole frigging thing" really? You eloquently mention these great American food traditions that we've had in our country for hundreds of years. Wouldn't you agree, though, that in some portions of our country, some communities, these traditions have been lost? And wouldn't it be a fine thing indeed if some of those communities restored some of those traditions? Not so sure that it would be goofy.

                                                                                                                    2. I must admit to being surprised by how negative many of the responses here have been. I mean, as a food geek, I cannot help but be a bit envious of AW and the lifestyle she enjoys. Nevertheless, I can't understand how any 'hound can object to her fundamental premise.

                                                                                                                      At bottom, she is preaching "Think before you Consume." Had that messaage permeated our society at large during the last 15-20 years, we wouldn't be confronting the message of "It's going to get worse before it gets better. . . ." Simply put, don't we participate on CH because we all seek that which tastes best?

                                                                                                                      Certainly, growing conditions vary in different locales, but that doesn't mean we can't take advantage of the good conditions when they exist. Here at the NJ shore, winters do not permit much growing (in fact, the last snow appears to have killed half the branches on my giant rosemary bush). The summers, however, permit us to grow practically anything we like. Thus, we take as much advantage as we can - isn't that really the point?

                                                                                                                      I cringe at the thought of frozen vegtables, too - any 'hound should! That doesn't mean that I don't eat them, but I would rather not. This season, though, I have been able to find fresh, organic produce all winter whch I take to be a sign of progress (yes, I am kind of tired of kale). Ultimately, I posit that the concept is one of enlightenment, not elitism and that as 'hounds our contemplated consumption can shape the future of food.

                                                                                                                      1. First, I'll confess to not having read all the replies here. I watched the piece last night. That egg looked amazing. I have mixed feelings generally. I think she is trying to do the right thing in espousing using locally grown ingredients, etc., and I think her efforts in public schools is laudable. Saw the show Iconoclasts in which she was featured with Barishnikov (sp??). Note that her accent was the same there. On the other hand, I do think that it is somewhat idealistic to expect all Americans to be able to eat and cook the way she does. However, well, without some idealism, where would we be?

                                                                                                                        1. I think the negative responses to Alice Waters have to do with her pristine vision and her refusal to realize that most must compromise, that the perfect is the enemy of the good.

                                                                                                                          She got into a disagreement with Emeril Lagasse when he began to market salad greens, saying they weren't local. But they WERE being bought for kids who like Emeril's style. In other words, kids were eating more greens. This led to the memorable Lagasse comment: "Don't get me wrong, I love Alice, but she's fuckin' out there"

                                                                                                                          Alice has this teacup-tiny view of the world where people don't use frozen vegetables (I do, and I'm generally thought of as a damned good cook.) and where everybody had a farmer's market right around the corner. For her, the world is Berkeley. Makes me wonder how many brain cells she did in during the halcyon drug-fueled early days of Chez Panisse.

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: jmckee

                                                                                                                            LOL! Love the Emeril Lagasse comment!

                                                                                                                            And your last paragraph is exactly what many of us have said in other ways on this thread - she's refusing to realize or comment about what 90% or so of us must deal with. If she had even mentioned in this 60 Minutes episode that she's aware not everyone can do exactly what she does, but they should strive to do as best as they can with what they have, this thread would be a lot shorter, I believe.

                                                                                                                          2. How much of her local produce is grown using 'imported' water? I believe most of San Fancisco's water comes from Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, that fills a valley that rivaled Yosemety in grandure.

                                                                                                                            Inland, California agriculture depends on waters from Shasta Lake via the Central Valley Project. The LA area gets its water from the Colorado River and the Owens Valley.

                                                                                                                            Area Indians depended on things like salmon and acorns. Prior to the gold rush, American ships were visiting the area primarily to buy cow hides (see Duna's Two Years Before the Mast) from Spanish ranges and missions. San Francisco grew initially as a gateway and supply center to the gold fields.

                                                                                                                            54 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                              Poor Alice!! She just can't catch a break with some people.

                                                                                                                              I guess you're suggesting she drill her own well and be sure that everyone she buys from does the same?

                                                                                                                              A bit much? Or is that my leg being tugged at again?

                                                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                What IS the point of this post? I've read it twice and just can't figure it out.

                                                                                                                                BTW (not to you but generally) I re-watched the interview on the computer and, boy, was that a pain because my connection isn't al that fast. Lesley Stahl said that AW shuddered about frozen foods. No where else was it mentioned. All I carried away from the second time is that people have a right to good, healthy food. Regarding the Nikes, she said people make choices everyday. Some choose two pairs of Nikes and some $4 grapes. Just thought I'd throw in a couple of things I noticed. I am NOT watching it a THIRD time :)

                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                  You're absolutely right. I re-watched it, too. (Rather boring.) It's part of the voice-over: "Say frozen and Alice Waters shudders." To me it seems like journalism; overstating something for effect. We don't see AW shudder. Also it's in the context of the restaurant. Of course it doesn't use frozen vegetables.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Glencora

                                                                                                                                    I also think that some people in other parts of the country don't realize that the Bay Area doesn't grow everything all the time. Even some of the Banana Belts to the north aren't harvesting tomatoes and peppers in the winter. Lettuces, yes, and other winter greens and green vegetables. So local means different things at different times of the year and I'm sure CP's menu reflects that and does attempt to use as seasonal AND local as they can and still run a successful restaurant.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                      Yep. I just got all mad at my SO for buying a Mexican tomato. I told him he should wait. And then he asked if I had any basil growing in the herb garden. In March? I don't think so.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                        I'm personally very familiar with what's available in the Bay Area and when. :)

                                                                                                                                        Funny, I distinctly remember Alice responding, "No, never frozen" and watching her face pinch up. But, I'm not going to re-watch the video, so, I'll just assume it was the power of suggestion and trust the folks who've watched it more recently. Maybe my knee-jerk response was to Lesley.


                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen


                                                                                                                                          I think you've made a number of good points, but I believe you are being overly sensitive. I saw the 60 Min piece Sunday and just watched it again on youtube. I did not detect an arrogant , haughty tone from AW. It was LS who said that frozen food would make AW shudder, not AW herself. My impression is that AW would not be contemptuous of your use of frozen food, but would applaud your efforts for seeking out fresh food, to the extent that you are able.

                                                                                                                                          We have so much commercial advertising beckoning us to use food products of dubious nutritional value and nonfood luxuries that are cool, convenient or attractive in some way. Isn't it appropriate that she use her platform to proclaim that this is a luxury worthy of consideration. In terms of the enjoyment of good "slow" food, the camaraderie of sharing it, the health benefits to the individual and the health & environmental benefits to our collective society, this is worth aspiring to.

                                                                                                                                          By raising peoples awareness and desire for fresh food, perhaps prices will come down, with increases in volume. Perhaps our government, which currently heavily subsidizes certain crops like corn ( ever notice that there is some component of corn in almost every processed food in the supermarket), could spread its largesse around to vegetable growers. Why is a pack of Twinkies, which needs numerous ingredients, handling, packaging, etc., cheaper than a bunch of carrots, which only needs to be plucked from the ground? Because the big agribusiness people like it that way. The Dept. of Agriculture should be renamed the Dept. of Food, so that they might realize that eaters are part of their constituency too.

                                                                                                                                          As we have become an urbanized and suburbanized nation, there has been a disconnect between people & the food supply. The programs that give students the experience of seeing where food comes from, of seeing science at work in a form that is not abstract but quite real, can only be good.

                                                                                                                                          If AW has the nation's top produce purveyors beating a path to her door, I cannot blame her for passing on the frozen vegetables. I may envy her, but not resent her. I incorporate her philosophy to the extent that my budget & available time will allow. I can't help but believe that as her success grows in spreading the slow food movement, I will benefit.

                                                                                                                                          BTW, from today's NY Times "White House Will Get a Vegetable Garden"
                                                                                                                                          I guess Obama was watching too.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Rmis32

                                                                                                                                            Nicely stated, Rmis32, and thank you for posting the NYT article. Here is a great takeaway from it (and wasn't this the basic underlying message of the AW piece?)...

                                                                                                                                            "But, sitting in her office in the East Wing, Mrs. Obama stressed that she doesn’t want people to feel guilty if they don’t have the time to have a garden: there are still many small changes they can make."

                                                                                                                                            “You can begin in your own cupboard by eliminating processed food, trying to cook a meal a little more often, trying to incorporate more fruits and vegetables,” she said.

                                                                                                                                            P.S. Great album (your avatar)!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                              Thanks for the kind words. I think the whole point w/ AW and Ms Obama is that you do what you can, and perhaps, as time goes on, you find you want to do more and you find a way to do more. It should be a joy, not a burden.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: Rmis32

                                                                                                                                              Seriously well done, Rmis32
                                                                                                                                              And yippee to the White House garden! Anyone else here joing the Facebook group Victory Garden For The White House?
                                                                                                                                              : )

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Rmis32

                                                                                                                                                It should be the Department of Food, but have you ever looked at the Farm Bill?
                                                                                                                                                Why in the world is energy or defense in there? Or welfare policy? Or Education?
                                                                                                                                                The bill is now a catch-all behemoth of special interests that have little to do with what people eat.
                                                                                                                                                Tell a bunch of farmers that you want to change ethanol policy and they go ballistic and it changes the presidential election results in farm States. They're not growing corn for food but they grow so much they it's used for everything else. How are you going to break that cycle?
                                                                                                                                                Ask Tom Vilsack. Or the environmental lobby.
                                                                                                                                                Are you going to tell food stamp recipients that they can no longer buy processed foods? Good luck.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                                  The reason energy, defense, welfare and education are on the farm bill is because Congress likes locally-raised, heirloom PORK on its meat-and-three plates!

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                                    "Are you going to tell food stamp recipients that they can no longer buy processed foods? Good luck."

                                                                                                                                                    No, we're going to make good food available to food stamp recipients.
                                                                                                                                                    I belong to the Park Slope Food Coop, in Brooklyn NY. We accept food stamps, and plenty of our members pay with them. Our prices are cheaper than a conventional grocery store - we have a pretty unique system of member labor (you can't buy in -- you have to work to shop) and childcare available while you work or shop.

                                                                                                                                                    The takeaway: Other models are possible.
                                                                                                                                                    15,000+ people in a big city get their groceries at this place, and we favor local organic products. Not all of them are affordable, but they are way more affordable in this collective alt-business model. AW is our sister, not our leader.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pitu

                                                                                                                                                      BRAVO! What a great concept!

                                                                                                                                                      "Other models are possible." EXACTLY!

                                                                                                                                                      "AW is our sister, not our leader." Nicely stated. Lots of room for many people in many places to make a difference, bit by bit. Only good can come of this.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pitu

                                                                                                                                                        Congratulations. This makes a huge amount of sense. And I know many group are doing and working towards similar things. Win-win.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Rmis32

                                                                                                                                                      Rmis, (even though I said I wouldn't) I just re-watched the portion of frozen segment of 60 minutes (there's 12.31 minutes of my life I'll never get back) and you and a couple of others are correct, that at least in the version that appears on CBS news/60 minutes website, we do not hear or see an on-camera response from Alice regarding frozen vegetables. That is not the way I recall it from having watched it on my own television, but as I said before, I'm willing to accept that my memory is flawed.

                                                                                                                                                      I hope that Lesley Stahl is a decent enough journalist that if she reported to that Alice shudders at the mention of frozen food, she actually did ask Alice about frozen food and Alice did in fact shudder, but, if we don't see or hear it for ourselves, it's hard to draw a conclusion. Also, someone (sorry I don't remember who) made the point that it's possible the "shudder" that Stahl reported might have been in response to a question about frozen vegetables being used at Chez Panisse, which, of course, is a different matter. I agree that Alice should shudder at the thought of cooking with frozen vegetables at Chez Panisse!

                                                                                                                                                      However, while I appreciate that your "impression" is that Alice might applaud my efforts, the lesson learned here is that if I don't hear words out of Alice's mouth directly, whether they come first hand from Lesley Stahl or second or third hand from those watching what Lesley reported, I should set them aside as the opinions of others and not of Alice herself.

                                                                                                                                                      The most compelling thing to come out of this thread for me is the reminder below about the complexity and fragility of California's water supply. Hopefully, the farmers Chez Panisse works with are using methods that are sustainable with respect to water usage, though, again, there are some serious questions about how sustainable it can be on a mass scale if Alice got her wish and we all ate the way she does, eating only fresh, still warm from the sun produce and cooking it over wood in our fireplaces. I don't know about the rest of you, but I would be pretty late to work every morning if I lived that way. Also, I'd worry about air quality and destruction of forests. And fire danger.

                                                                                                                                                      But that's the great thing about being an idealist. Everything's possible, and you never have to be accountable.


                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                        I think when you're an idealist, people attack everything you do. I have friends who are vegetarian who are attacked for buying bananas grown in different countries. My friend who is vegan buys non-leather shoes and is attacked for using petroleum products to make the shoes. My friend don't preach but people seem to want to find hypocricy in all the others do. I've heard people attack Peace Corps volunteers because they are going to countries and using resources that the locals could be using. Let's be honest, if you decide to take any stance, you can be criticized for not taking it further. I was recently told by someone that using Google has an environmental impact because of the way they route their servers. I can either say I don't care about any of it and not be hypocritical or I can do what I can and accept that I'll be accused of hypocricy.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                          Well, there is a difference between attacking your vegetarian and vegan friends, who are presumably private citizens making complex personal choices about food ethics, and calling to task Alice Waters who has decided she is a revolutionary and has decided to pressure the White House to take a stance on national food policy. I think you need to be a lot more mindful when you're a public figure pushing a national agenda.

                                                                                                                                                          I'm not trying to attack Alice, I've been a long-time fan. I think she has a solid grasp on the food issues faced by the upper middle class of Berkeley, CA, or perhaps even the SF Bay Area, or maybe even Northern CA in general. But, this interview gave me serious doubts about whether she's in touch enough to be pushing a food agenda nationally.

                                                                                                                                                          When she talks about people making choices and calls them to task for buying two pair of Nikes instead of $4 grapes, then shouldn't it be fair to question for her choice to cook her eggs over a fireplace? If she's asking others to think through their choices, shouldn't we expect her to think through hers? Especially since she thinks of herself as a revolutionary and, therefore, sees herself as a key figure in trying to effect some change in our culture?

                                                                                                                                                          I just that thought eggs in the fireplace moment was a very revealing moment.


                                                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                            I understand what you're saying, and have been saying about Alice Waters. There is obviously a diverse opinion on her attitude. But, unless we know her personally, we're judging through a media filter. I'd met her briefly when I ate at Chez Panisse (wonderful meals) but not enough to get a feel for what her thoughts are and who is correct in this thread. She did seem very down to earth, though, and was working as the hostess seating people. My feeling is we do what we need to do and can't let others make us feel bad for our choices.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                              I don't know Alice Waters personally, but would love to! Like you, I've met her, but only as a guest in her restaurant. Dining at Chez Panisse is a wonderful experience.

                                                                                                                                                              You and I may disagree on some things, perhaps, but I completely agree (intellectually) with your last point, but don't always practice it. I clearly need to internalize it.

                                                                                                                                                              Side note: have your vegan and vegetarian friends read Peter Singer's "The Ethics of What We Eat: Why our Food Choices Matter?" It explores the complex web of food ethics, including impact on the earth, cruelty to animals, responsibility to other cultures, etc. It's a great read and might make a good gift.


                                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                Thanks for the book recommendation. I know I'd be interested in reading it. Personally, I don't know or care what Alice Waters is like. I used to enjoy her restaurant (it's been years since I left that area), I agree w/ the concept that we need to be aware of where our food comes from but whether she's looking down on those of us who choose things she doesn't use is irrelevant to me. I do what I do whether she thinks I'm a heathen or not.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                  HA! You are wise indeed. I should take a cue from you and stop caring what other people (even AW who doesn't even know of me) think of me!


                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                    I've been thinking about this this morning. It does make sense for you to care about what AW thinks, since as you'd mentioned before, you did respect her views. To me, she was another celebrity restaurant owner who did some things I thought was cool, like the edible schoolyard, but she wasn't someone I gave a lot of thought to regularly. But, if someone I'd come to respect said something that was derogatory to my lifestyle, it would bother me, too. But, you have a whole slew of people here at CH who know what you do and respect it; people who "know" you and that means so much more, IMO. I'm also wondering, while AW does talk like the whole world has her means, if she were to talk to the average person who's trying to live in 0 degree weather with nothing in the area, if she'd be supportive of that, too.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                      HA! Funny that you've been thinking about it all morning. Me too! I suspect you're right in your conclusions.

                                                                                                                                                                      I have the feeling that AW thinks about these kinds of issues very personally and concretely. Like she said in the interview, she wants to get her hands in the soil. And I think she's not thinking of some frozen soil 2000 miles away, she's thinking of the soil she's standing on, her patch of influence. She's embraced local for so long that, understandably, it's the filter through which she views everything. I have the feeling (of course, this is all conjecture) that if she were reading this thread she would say, of course, just do the best you can with what you have. Again, back to her point about choices, just make your choices wisely.

                                                                                                                                                                      She comes across as very dogmatic. Some of that might be 60 minutes editing, but I think she is a very committed, idealist. But, I also think in her business, she's got to be pragmatic and adaptable, along the lines of, maybe you planned your restaurant menu for that day around fresh tomatoes, but if something goes wrong with the tomatoes, a freak hailstorm or something, you adapt. I'm sure she expects w'ere doing the same kind of adapting with whatever issues we come across.

                                                                                                                                                                      I don't think she's a big national policy person. She's a big, very very local, the patch of earth she's standing on policy person.


                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Rmis32

                                                                                                                                                        "Why is a pack of Twinkies, which needs numerous ingredients, handling, packaging, etc., cheaper than a bunch of carrots, which only needs to be plucked from the ground?"

                                                                                                                                                        Why compare the 'pack of Twinkies' with the 'bunch of carrots'? Because that is question that was asked, more or less rhetorically, in a NY Times Pollan article.

                                                                                                                                                        Since I haven't bought Twinkies in a long time (never, that I can recall), I had to look up their price on the web. Through Amazon I find that the list price is $18 for a box of 18 1.5 oz individually wrapped cakes. Discounted these are $14, but shipping is something like $6., so I'll stick with the list.

                                                                                                                                                        $18/24 = $0.75 per cake (= package?). How about per weight? 24*1.5oz=36oz, $.50/oz, $8/lb.

                                                                                                                                                        What does a bunch of carrots cost? I don't usually buy them by the bunch, with the tops still on. But I do buy them by weight. $.99 /lb comes to mind as a realistic price.

                                                                                                                                                        So by weight carrots cost 1/8 the cost of Twinkies. So what's the big deal?

                                                                                                                                                        How much do you pay for baked goods? We just bought some fresh items from a new Korean bakery. They were priced per unit, but the cost per lb was about the same as for Twinkies.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for giving some facts. Too many assumptions flying around here.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                            Ah....but you forgot to factor in the longevity. Carrots will go bad in a few weeks. 100 years from now those Twinkies will be just as delicious and nutritious as they are today.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                              What difference does it make what Twinkies cost compared to WHICH carrots?
                                                                                                                                                              There's a common tendency to slam Twinkies because of their brand recognition. But people like them and they're willing to pay $.75 or $1.
                                                                                                                                                              A pound of carrots is $.99 or a lot more if they're cut into sticks for convenience, or a waaaay more if they're blessed with "organic" certification and offered at the socially correct farmers' market. Up to $4/lb or more.
                                                                                                                                                              Have them at the "right" restaurant and the price is no object.
                                                                                                                                                              That's NOT reality for most people.

                                                                                                                                                              People are willing to pay $4 for ONE cupcake. Or they eat Cheetos. They're making CHOICES.
                                                                                                                                                              Everyone doesn't make the same choices.

                                                                                                                                                              The Wiki entry on Chez Panisse mentions that "Waters' role at Chez Panisse has been that of proprietor, iron-willed visionary, and taster-in-chief, rather than chef or businesswoman."
                                                                                                                                                              She's never had to worry about money, bottom line, or what matters in the real world.
                                                                                                                                                              Most people in America do.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                                                Did you know you can buy a 'twinkie' at Chez Panisse?
                                                                                                                                                                From the chezpanisse cafe menu:

                                                                                                                                                                bittersweet chocolate pavé with espresso caramel and toasted hazelnuts, $9.50

                                                                                                                                                                Larousse recipe for chocolate pavé - Sandwich Genoese or chocolate sponge layers
                                                                                                                                                                together with chocolate butter cream. Trim the sandwich, giving it a square shape.

                                                                                                                                                                From Wiki: A Twinkie is a "Golden Sponge Cake with Creamy Filling"

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                  We get sniffy about some of these ordinary junk foods but love them in upscale restaurants. Didn't we find S'mores all over the place last year, complete with tiny grills?
                                                                                                                                                                  Michel Richard offers Le Kit Cat in both his Four Start Citronella and his moderate Central in Washington. Great dessert. From his book "Happy in the Kitchen." http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/spe...

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                                                  Taking the first part of your statement, that Alice Waters never had to worry about money: while I don't know a whole lot about Waters personal finances, i do know that in the early years of Chez Panisse they almost lost the restaurant a few times and had to keep borrowing to keep it afloat, until it finally became financially viable. Without researching it in any detail, I do think it implies that at least at some point of her life she wasn't exactly flush with cash. Seems to be that some hard work, determination, luck, knowing the right people, and vision got that restaurant going. Probably by now, Waters is enjoying some success, but I don't know that I could say as confidently as you do that "she never had to worry about money, bottom line."

                                                                                                                                                                  As far as what matters in the real world -- issues of where you get your food, how you get your food, I can't see these as anything but real world issues

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                      Brother. You can call me Budget Palate (my first post here was on "Asheville on a Budget"), BP, or by my real name, Jake.


                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Budget Palate

                                                                                                                                                                        Peace back at ya, Jake. And thanks. Along with Scargod and others, you're quite eloquent.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks, but not so much that we're elquent but this thread in particular has made you have to think and write in a crisp way because it began to look like someone's character was being attacked unfairly.

                                                                                                                                                      3. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                        If I'm reading paulj's post correctly (forgive me if I'm not, paulj), he's pointing out the hypocrisy of the "California" attitude of smug perceived superiority. They are oh-so-environmentally conscious, ahead of the trends, set their own emission standards because they're just so much smarter and more progressive than the rest of us and have the intelligence to live in California. See the South Park episode about the Toyota PIOUS for further illustration.

                                                                                                                                                        (PLEASE UNDERSTAND, Californians, that I am generalizing!)

                                                                                                                                                        And yet...when it comes to water, that most basic requirement of life, environmental considerations go out the window. So much of the state does not have enough natural water to sustain large populations, so it is "diverted" from elsewhere--and having green lawns and pools in a dry area is an environmental crime.

                                                                                                                                                        California could not exist in its present form without basically screwing up water ecosystems--the Colorado River used to flow to the sea, but not any more.

                                                                                                                                                        I think that smugness of the "enlightened" AW is what grates on those of us who are too dim to live in her paradise. Yeah, I'll have to eat frozen and non-local vegetables, but my WATER is local!

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: coney with everything

                                                                                                                                                          I have no problems with California attempting to be a pioneer in things like emission standards. They are not trying to prove themselves better. They are trying to solve their own problems. A combination of local geography and a car oriented settlement pattern gave LA one of the worst smog problems. Cities have been importing water over long distances since Roman days. Some of the earliest restrictions on mining practices were enacted in California when powerful farmers in the Central Valley objected to the silt washing down from the hydraulic mining camps in the mountains. And state officials are concerned about global warming because of how it could affect valuable resources like the water supply (less winter snow in the mountains).

                                                                                                                                                          If AW wants to use vegetables that she grows or buys via connections with local farmers, that's fine. She can even promote those practices. But that 'locality' has some significant non-local inputs. So I question whether her practice is superior (in what ever moral sense you want to propose) to that of some Midwestern resident who buys frozen green beans and imported strawberries (from Mexico in the winter, California in spring, NJ in the summer).

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: coney with everything

                                                                                                                                                            Please understand that many of the frozen and non-local vegetables you must eat are grown in California, and that most of the water "diverted" to California is used for agriculture. California water issues aren't only about maintaing a tenth of the nation's population, but also about the state's role in producing a lot of the nation's produce. It's true that California "California could not exist in its present form without basically screwing up water ecosystems," but California in its present form reflects both the state population and its consumption of water, and its agricultural production - the greatest part of which leaves the state and travels east in fresh and frozen form.

                                                                                                                                                            I'm not an apologist for anyone's smugness. I'm a Californian who enjoys the climate and appreciates having local produce available most of the year even more so because I have lived where it is not possible. I am very careful about water conservation, drought year or not, and think our communities ought to require us to be.

                                                                                                                                                            I also think both paulj's point is a good one: The question of how we achieve what is "best" (a subjective judgment that varies among us) is complex, and we should never assume otherwise.

                                                                                                                                                            Personally, I only buy locally grown strawberries in season (same when I lived on the East Coast) and only buy fresh tomatoes and stone fruits in the summer and fall for one main reason (though several other, smaller ones): I don't think they taste good otherwise.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                              California would never have had its population growth nor been able to develop an artificial agricultural economy had it not been for their using water from other States.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                                                I believe all the water used in the Central Valley comes from the California mountains, initially from the Sierras to the east, and later from the north. LA bought up water rights from Owens Valley on the east side of the Sierras.

                                                                                                                                                                The only external source of water is the Colorado River, which flows along the border between Arizona and California, though most of the water originates in Colorado. You can see for your self how lower Colorado River water is allocated among California, Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico
                                                                                                                                                                I believe Colorado River water irrigates land around the Salton Sea (which itself is a product of flooding from the river), and probably areas within the LA basin. I don't think any flows north to the Central Valley, but I could be mistaken about that.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                  My (extended) family had peach and orange farms in the Central Valley. Although we were the little guys at considerable disadvantage against the larger farms and agricultural industries of the west side of the valley, we did use both pumped ground water and snow melt irrigation just like the AIG bonus bastards with no view of tomorrow.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                                                  California'a "artificial agriculture economy" was developed to serve, and currently serves, the demands of the rest of the country, not just California: those who want access to fresh and frozen produce during the majority of the year.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                    I wonder if Alice Waters has considered what would happen to California's economy if a significant fraction of the population truly cleaved to the locavore philosophy.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                      Are those what you call "factory farms"?

                                                                                                                                                                      Actually, the East Coast gets most of its fresh produce from Florida, the Carolinas, Texas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Delaware, Maryland, etc. through much of the year, except what comes from Mexico and Central and South America.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                    "most of the water "diverted" to California is used for agriculture"

                                                                                                                                                                    well. . . that's one way to say: california's factory dairy farms use the majority of that water. over 12 million gallons of water. daily. unlike sustainable farms in the "dairy belt" that historically stretches from new york state around the great lakes and into the midwest, where cows still eat grass. . . 60 years ago, of course, there weren't a lot of dairy cows in california. now the milk belt has lost a full 50% of family dairy farms and 1/6 dairy cows lives in california, and dairy is now the state's #1 agricultural commodity-- NOT frozen fruits and vegetables that will feed folks deprived of long summers back in the east. an enormous amount of animal feed and other resources must be shipped in from thousands of miles away to sustain the california dairy industry, of course--ironically, from the same areas from whence the cows originally came. but wait, there's more-- when the milk product is made, it's often shipped *back* to a supermarket in iowa or new york-- likely in the form of processed prepared food.

                                                                                                                                                                    agribusiness in california is profoundly unsustainable as a whole, and in fact many elements of it are nothing short of complete ecological travesty, in terms of water use and greenhouse gas production alone. it's one reason why people boycott california dairy. big dairy in california is enormously powerful and connected to the media ("happy cows come from california," remember?)-- what are we up to now-- $64 *billion* to the state in revenue from dairy? so odds are very nothing will change any time soon, unfortunately.

                                                                                                                                                                    uh, sorry i'm coming in late to this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                      California has a dairy industry in part because parts of the the state are well suited to producing livestock and dairy cow feed, especially high grade pastures, fodder maize, and alfalfa and other forage legumes important for the production of milk proteins. Dairy cow feed need not be imported. Dairy farms do not use the majority of water in California. Far from it. The attached spread sheets may be helpful.


                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                        oh whoops i must have been in a hurry when i posted above & looked at the wrong numbers. the 12 mil gallon is just what the 1.5 million dairy cows in california use @ 80 gal/cow/day. in fact the water usage is much higher when you get to actually processing the milk, and yes there is even greater water use with other industrial ag in california. thanks for the correction.

                                                                                                                                                                        iowa and kansas are in the united states, which is the same country california is in. . . i didn't mention anything about imported feed. a lot of the sludge from ethanol plants locally gets shipped out to california to feed the cafo cattle there as well. average herd size for california was well over 800 head and climbing 5 years ago-- most cattle in california are in cafos, not on pasture.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                          "Imported' means into California. You said, "an enormous amount of animal feed and other resources must be shipped in from thousands of miles away to sustain the california dairy industry". This importation is niot true. Obviously dairy cows are not pastured, but their feed mix is tricky. Feed concentrates and silage are produced from California grown forage grasses and legumes. Our (extended) family had irrigated peach and orange farms in the Central Valley- using both surface and ground water. We were water criminals, but not as much as the west side farmers. Their water budget has to be looked in terms of water delivererd: a huge proportion lost to evapotranspiration.

                                                                                                                                                                          Now, how about a case where we're both "right"? I believe that your water budget for diary cows has to include the water used to produce alfalfa, one of the real water-wasting crops to be grown in California. If so, we AGREE!

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                            Sam i am sorry to disagree. the 80 gal/cow water figure is *only* from what the dairy cow drinks and the water used to hose/flush away that animal's waste in high density cafos like those found in the l.a. area. such a huge amount of animal waste becomes yet another environmental nightmare. the water figure has nothing to do with california crop irrigation or milk processing.

                                                                                                                                                                            the corn and soy-based feeds used in the california dairy cafos are derived from crops not grown in california. these feeds are very cheap to the cafo operators because these crops are govt subsidized.

                                                                                                                                                                            you say "obviously" dairy cows are not pastured. i assume you are just talking about cafo dairy cattle?

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                              I assume cafo is an acronym? For what?

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                CAFO=concentrated animal feeding operation


                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factory_... and scroll down to the AFO (Animal Feeding Operation) entry

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                    Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation. Large-scale, commercial meat and dairy production in limited space, aka industrial/factory farming.

                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: paulj


                                                                                                                                                                    I couldn't copy just the paragraph I wanted to so had to give the link. Please scroll down to parapgraph 5 (I'm pretty sure it's 5) regarding where the majority of California's water comes from. That's in WAY NE Calif. for those who don't know.

                                                                                                                                                                  4. On an unrelated side note, was anyone else struck by how much healthier Alice looked then Stahl?

                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                      You don't REALLY mean that to be an unrelated side note, do??? That gave me a chuckle. And Gavin Newsome was positively glowing also.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                        I don't know about the rest of you, but I have formed a much lower opinion of The Dairy Queen for using frozen vegetables. In fact, I just shuddered. :)

                                                                                                                                                                        Agree that AW has some solid ideas but indeed comes across as not only smug, but superior as well, something I would know nothing about whatsoever.


                                                                                                                                                                    2. I guess I'm bit surprised at the level of hostility towards a woman who is espousing an attitude toward food that I would think many hounds would favor. Am I off base to suggest that the smugness or superiority that some complain about, is being inferred where it was never implied? I did not detect a tone of haughtiness in any words spoken by Ms. Waters. I saw no pronouncement that if you couldn't attain the level of purity one finds at Chez Panisse, you were hopelessly pathetic.

                                                                                                                                                                      In a culture where we (and more ominously, our kids) are bombarded by slick commercials extolling how cool it is to eat at any number of fast food chains, is it such a sin to suggest that cooking eggs over an open flame and serving w/ fresh vegetables is a different interpretation of cool?

                                                                                                                                                                      One comment above "I see her advocating cuts in lifestyle for the sake of food,..." is a subjective point of view. In AW's subjective point of view, trading designer sneakers and mediocre food for designer food & generic sneakers is an elevation of lifestyle. I don't see her as trying to force anything on anyone, but merely asking that you entertain other possibilities.

                                                                                                                                                                      I also feel that attacking her as a "let them eat cake" snob is unwarranted. Many people of limited means will readily take the family out for a meal at McDonald's, when a more healthful, and arguably a richer dining experience can be had at home for lower cost. I'm not saying that going out as a family does not have merit or that one is doomed to staying home & eating veggies their whole life, but that a person has choices to evaluate.

                                                                                                                                                                      Smug? Anybody see smugness in McD's signs, high enough to be seen throughout the county, proclaiming how many gazillion burgers they've sold? ( And how many millions have they aided & abetted into obesity?) Schools today rarely have functional kitchens. It is easier & cheaper to have food brought in by institutional caterers that provide lunches not very different than the local fast food joints. If schools are promoting poor eating habits, the costs will be borne by society at a later date. I applaud her advocacy of nutritional school programs.

                                                                                                                                                                      Personally, I can't afford a steady diet of organic food. I do find AW's message inspirational to include more fresh fruits & veggies in my diet, sometimes mitigating the cost by decreasing the amount of meat I buy. We are fortunate to have choices that were not so readily available 20-30 years ago. Farmers markets, CSA's and Whole Foods type stores are a Hound's delight. To the extent AW and others (Michael Pollan comes to mind) succeed in expanding those choices, I am grateful.

                                                                                                                                                                      P.S. sampling of Michael Pollan's magazine articles are available free at http://www.michaelpollan.com/write.php
                                                                                                                                                                      Scroll down, below the books, which are not free.

                                                                                                                                                                      PPS - The only time I shudder at frozen vegetables is when they are served to me at a restaurant charging Chez Panisse prices.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Two articles in today's NY Times discuss the pros & cons, realities & perceptions about the food "revolution".

                                                                                                                                                                        1. I was just reading through some posts on this very same subject on another site. Interestingly they were about 50/50 on whether Alice Waters was elitist or Leslie Stahl just "didn't get it"
                                                                                                                                                                          I would like to copy one post that I thought was rather insightful.

                                                                                                                                                                          Isn't it ironic that growing one's own food has an "elitist" connotation to it? Not very long ago, only poor white trash grew their own food.

                                                                                                                                                                          (end quote)

                                                                                                                                                                          12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: margshep


                                                                                                                                                                            It's funny, though. Here on the Jersey Shore, I tore up the four by twelve foot patch of lawn in front of our front porch and used it as a vegetable garden last summer. Our neighbors pretty much reacted the same way that they would have if I had placed an old El Camino on cinder blocks in the driveway. (I think I am going to expand it this year!)

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: margshep

                                                                                                                                                                              I don't think anyone has argued that growing your own food - to the extent that circumstances allow - is elitist. The elitism lies in the idea (real or perceived) that everyone can and should achieve the same level of self sufficiency as Alice Waters and her upscale California restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                Well, I guess elitism is in the eyes of the perceiver. I did not get, from the 60M segment "that everyone can and should achieve the same level of self sufficiency as Alice Waters and her upscale California restaurant."

                                                                                                                                                                                It seems to me that the point of her using the platform of a major TV show & her support of healthier lunches in the schools was to broaden the experience of good, healthy food to the general population and not confine it to the "elite". If more people pick up on her message, sales volume increases and prices go down. Gov't policies might be changed to be more evenhanded in its subsidies, which currently discourage growing vegetables.

                                                                                                                                                                                No, organic fruits & veggies will never be as inexpensive as factory farmed crops and we can never feed 6 billion people on AW's proscribed diet, but that does not invalidate her invitation to eat better.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Rmis32

                                                                                                                                                                                  Is there any serious study that shows that subsidies on corn and wheat, and protective tariffs on sugar, have anything to do with the price of carrots and lettuce? What would happen if the US government cut back on many of the farm programs? Would we switch from eating corn flakes to carrot chips for breakfast? Will Iowa farmers switch from corn to parsnips? What will Washington wheat farmers switch to? - apples and grapes like their irrigated neighbors?

                                                                                                                                                                                  Growing more vegetables within 50 miles of Chicago is not the solution to poor nutrition and junk food consumption in the poor neighborhoods of the Chicago South and West sides. The fact that Illinois farmers get all sorts of government assistance in growing their corn and soybeans did not drive the cabbage farmers out of the Chicago metro area. The space between Chicago and Aurora is not filled with subsidized corn farms - it is filled with suburbia.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Alice Waters tells us to shop locally for our food. Why limit the local thinking to vegetables? How about dining locally? Never drive more than 10 miles to restaurant? How about working locally? Shopping locally instead via the internet? Getting our information locally, instead from distant places like California? Only buy books written by local authors?

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                    I have been wondering about some of the same things you mention in your first paragraph. I found this site interesting in general, and particularly this article:
                                                                                                                                                                                    If the link to the article isn't preserved, the title of the article is "Food Prices."

                                                                                                                                                                                    Edited to add another article on a different, but related aspect:

                                                                                                                                                                                    Apologies if either of these have been mentioned earlier in this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: souvenir

                                                                                                                                                                                      In striving to make their point about commodity prices driving down the costs of certain foods, the Yale Rudd Center neglects to factor in the reasons why produce prices have been increasing over the past several years.
                                                                                                                                                                                      In addition to simple increasing demand for fresh produce, they include some serious droughts, flooding, heat waves, early and late season freezes in growing areas, immigration law changes re migrant workers, and other Biblical plagues.
                                                                                                                                                                                      Prices and demand for several items were affected by safety scares, e.g. spinach, which caused everything to be pulled from shelves. Growers have had some rough years.
                                                                                                                                                                                      Prices skyrocketed due to $140/barrel oil causing inputs (fertilizer, fuel for tilling and planting, agricultural chemicals, etc.) to be higher than normal and transportation costs have risen across the board.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                      For the first time in human history, poor people have a greater problem with obesity, than rich people. Coincidence? Possibly, but consider this...
                                                                                                                                                                                      "...the current farm bill helps commodity farmers by cutting them a check based on how many bushels they can grow, rather than, say, by supporting prices and limiting production, as farm bills once did. The result? A food system awash in added sugars (derived from corn) and added fats (derived mainly from soy), as well as dirt-cheap meat and milk (derived from both). By comparison, the farm bill does almost nothing to support farmers growing fresh produce. A result of these policy choices is on stark display in your supermarket, where the real price of fruits and vegetables between 1985 and 2000 increased by nearly 40 percent while the real price of soft drinks (a k a liquid corn) declined by 23 percent. The reason the least healthful calories in the supermarket are the cheapest is that those are the ones the farm bill encourages farmers to grow."

                                                                                                                                                                                      You Are What You Grow By MICHAEL POLLAN
                                                                                                                                                                                      Published: April 22, 2007 NY Times

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                        < " What would happen if the US government cut back on many of the farm programs?" >

                                                                                                                                                                                        We don't consume all that wheat and corn in the US. Aside from the large amount used for ethanol production, farm exports account for a huge amount of our balance of payments, and provide assistance to countries around the world through USAID, CARE, Save the Children-US, other NGOs, the UN, and are a valuable part of US presence abroad.

                                                                                                                                                                                        One example is the food assistance the US is helping to provide is in Darfur where 4.7 million people rely on humanitarian aid and where the United Nations runs its largest aid operation in the world with the help of NGOs.
                                                                                                                                                                                        Sudan ordered the aid agencies out of Darfur after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir earlier this month over alleged war crimes in Darfur.
                                                                                                                                                                                        The crisis is expected to worsen in coming months. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...
                                                                                                                                                                                        We're not shipping them fruits and vegetable. Our aid is only possible through the kinds of large programs facilitated by farm programs.

                                                                                                                                                                                        "Food policy" extends well beyond school lunches and fresh vegetables, despite the fixation of Waters, Pollan and other activists on our own tables.
                                                                                                                                                                                        It's why I think that Dairy Oueen's point was so well made above when she questioned "whether Waters' really is a person with sufficient depth of understanding to be advocating on matters of food policy on a national level." Let's add the role US farm policy plays internationally. Has Waters thought this through?

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                                                                          Are the relative prices of grains, vegetables, meats significantly different in other countries?

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, indeed! The great variety of fruit and vegetables is cheaper; and meat, milk, and cheese are way, way more expensive in Colombia compared to the US.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                              Maybe some reasons: Colombia does not subsidize or establish floor prices for maize and soya, so there are no essentially subsidized meat and poultry. Colombia does have many varied agroecosystems from coastal (Atlantic and Pacific) to Andean to savannahs to the Amazon. A wide variety of fruit and vegetables (and crops like coffee and cacao) are available and do not have to unfairly compete with subsidized grans. Colombia produces its own rice, potatoes, other roots and tubers, meats, poultry, oil crops, and more. The only factors that skew production and pricing are coca and policies that favor sugar cane production. The "supermarketization" of agricultural product value chains has been the strongest in Latin America with the developing regoins - leading to fairly efficient meeting of consumer demand.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                              Every country has a different food profile. Development makes a difference, but culture, climate, and geography play major roles in what people eat, and the prices of basic foodstuffs.
                                                                                                                                                                                              We can't discount politics and there are a number of places where despots use food as a weapon against certain groups, even for genocide. Economic or political unrest cause migrations, stress food distribution systems, drive prices up, and cause shortages. There have been several major natural disasters in Asia recently that have led to serious food insecurity. Then there is Zimbabwe...
                                                                                                                                                                                              One of the topics to be discussed in the upcoming G20 summit is the recent increase in trade protectionism which will cause food prices among other things to rise for everybody if there is retaliation under existing treaties.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Here's a review, in Scientific American, of a book that may be barking up the same tree as Waters and Polan, but by a different chef and climate scientist:


                                                                                                                                                                                    Cool Cuisine: Taking the Bite Out of Global Warming

                                                                                                                                                                                    Laura Stec, a Bay area chef
                                                                                                                                                                                    Eugene Cordero, San Jose State Univ.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                      Very interesting!

                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the link.


                                                                                                                                                                                    2. PBS CreatTV has been showing a series called 'Endless Feast'. In each episode, the crew helps organize an outdoor dinner on a 'local, organic, sustainable...' farm, and tours the local producers who will supply the ingredients. Lots of talk about how local, sustainable is the wave of the future.

                                                                                                                                                                                      In the Arroyo Grande episode they tour a central California coast abalone farm. Do you think all of the abalone produced here are eaten locally (in the San Luis Obispo area)? I seen live abalone in a Seattle area Korean megamart. Could they have come from this 'local' producer?

                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                        You didn't ask the market where they buy their abalone? Would be interesting to hear the answer.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Was this the farm featured on the episode?

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: souvenir

                                                                                                                                                                                          That must be it. You can even order live ones from their local distributor, $20 each (plus shipping)!

                                                                                                                                                                                          For me, goeduck better qualifies as local, only $15/lb. In contrast to abalone they can still be harvested wild, though many on the market now are 'farmed' - grown to some juvenile stage in tanks, and then planted in tidelands. There was a bit of controversy recently about the main producer, Taylor Seafood, using public tidelands for this purpose.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. What can you do practically?

                                                                                                                                                                                        Do you live in a place with a yard, with grass? Do you have ornamental bushes or trees around your house or in your yard?

                                                                                                                                                                                        Replace the grass with garden, replace the bushes and trees with ones that produce stuff, like berries or apples or lemons, depending on where you live.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Can't dig down? Make raised beds, in or out of boxes. Everyone in this country can grow stuff where they live. In New England they have a growing season where you can fairly easily get 10+ lbs of potatoes per plant, in the south you can grow Haricot vert trivially, in the warmer places like Florida and California you can grow lemon trees.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Apple trees and *some kind* of berry bush grow everywhere. Replace the ornamental stuff around our houses with orchard plantings and we can supplement our food production immensely.

                                                                                                                                                                                        It doesn't make sense to live in a culture that overvalues perfect golf course lawns and high-tech 5-digit cost sprinkler systems when we can grow stuff that produces something.

                                                                                                                                                                                        28 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: fussycouple

                                                                                                                                                                                          There are a lot of people who live in places that have been over run with deer. These animals are voracious and the only defenses against them are (really high - over 6 ft tall)fences or growing things that they don't like to eat. They really like fruits and veggies. When you add in rabbits, ground hogs, squirrels, birds etc., what you are proposing isn't as simple as it sounds.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                            You are right on. I just left a place in the Catskills where we either had to go to war with the deer and other animals, or give up on gardening. We chose the latter, except for a few pots of herbs we kept on our back porch.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Cachetes

                                                                                                                                                                                              That's funny - that's exactly what I do - except the pots are on the front porch! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                              I figure instead of spending a fortune fighting a losing battle I just go and spend our money at the local farm stands and markets. That way everybody wins.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                flourgirl, that, and subscribing to a CSA--is what I do, too!


                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, we have a farm nearby that we can buy a seasonal share in. The only reason I haven't done so as yet is that I really enjoy making the rounds of the various farmer's markets/market stands. There's only three of us and there's only so much produce I can use. I'm afraid I'd end up wasting a lot. But I found out this year that a single share (as opposed to a family share) is still a lot of food - really enough for three people, and very inexpensive, so I may go for the single share next year so that I can still enjoy the best of both worlds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I love the farmers markets, too, but I don't seem to get there as often as I would like. It is ver stressful (to me) to use up my CSA, but it does force you to eat A LOT more vegetables, eat vegetables you otherwise might not bother with, and learn creative ways to use your vegetables. I still go to farmers markets to pick up dairy and such. If I want to can tomatoes (or anything else), I usually go to the farmers market , for that, too as I don't get enough in my CSA to can.


                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                      That's what my neighbor friends say about their CSA shares - that it is stressful to them because of the pressure to use all of it. I hear what you're saying about how it pushes you to eat a lot more vegetables - I try very hard to have my family eat right but there is always room for improvement - but I seriously don't need any more sources of stress (or guilt) in my life. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                      As for getting to the stands etc., it helps a lot that I work part time. My little guy comes with me and we both enjoy it. I have such great memories of tagging along with my mom on her rounds and I like sharing that with my son.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      But I still think I'm going to try the CSA single share next year. I can drive to the farm to pick it up and they have pick your own crops there too. I would love to share that experience with my son as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: fussycouple

                                                                                                                                                                                            Some plots don't get enough hours of sun to grow any food crops.
                                                                                                                                                                                            There are cities that are trying to increase the urban tree canopy to help with environmental concerns which results in cutting off what sunlight currently exists.
                                                                                                                                                                                            If your neighbor plants trees that shade your yard, what can you do?

                                                                                                                                                                                            Many urban areas also have lead in the soil and remediation is difficult. This is not because of any industrial negligence, simply because of past use of lead in building materials, paving, cars, pollution, etc. over 150+ years.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                                                                              "Many urban areas also have lead in the soil and remediation is difficult. This is not because of any industrial negligence, simply because of past use of lead in building materials, paving, cars, pollution, etc. over 150+ years."

                                                                                                                                                                                              Raised beds solve this problem.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                Not always.
                                                                                                                                                                                                First, many people, not realizing that urban soil may be contaminated, don't go to the trouble of installing raised beds.
                                                                                                                                                                                                Some jurisdictions require building or public space permits for them, depending on where they are. Most ignore the rules, but they are the rules.
                                                                                                                                                                                                Second, they are not cheap. Lumber is expensive and many people don't have even the simple carpentry skills to construct them.
                                                                                                                                                                                                The soil plus amendments to fill them also adds a significant cost. Although it's a one-time expense, it is considerable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                The most important, and often overlooked factor, is the source of the soil used in the raised beds.
                                                                                                                                                                                                An agricultural extension agent recently told me that many of the beds that they had tested also had lead in the soil because the topsoil that people had purchased had come from sites that had lead contamination.
                                                                                                                                                                                                Unless people are willing to go to the considerable expense of buying large numbers of bags of commercial topsoil, they may end up no further ahead.
                                                                                                                                                                                                They should test the soil in their raised beds just as they would test that in their underlying soil.
                                                                                                                                                                                                Even deep-feeding plants or those that send down deep roots can reach below the level of the soil in normal raised beds to the ground beneath. This is especially true if people "double dig" in their raised beds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Lead contamination is an on-going problem that is a fact of life in urban areas. Even new soil may become contaminated if it is near roadways, railyards, large buildings, construction sites, excavations, transfer stations, power plants, etc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                This is not as big a problem in suburbs, but it is something to consider for urban gardeners.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                                                                                  So you're saying raised beds will work unless one uses contaminated soil in the bed or the plants root into the ground soil. I'm glad we agree.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yes, I am saying that they CAN work.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    However, there is a lot of material out there encouraging urban gardening that fails to warn people about lead contamination.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    They don't emphasize soil testing as they should.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    It is a REAL problem, particularly for those with young children.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    The most common crops that people will try, like lettuces, spinach, herbs, radishes, carrots, etc., are those most likely to absorb lead.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Even articles that promote raised beds - of which I am a major fan - rarely mention exercising caution in the purchase of bulk topsoil.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    I bought a truckload of topsoil and had NO idea that there would be any problem. Never entered my mind. Never saw it discussed in all the gardening books that I used when planning my garden.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    The topsoil cost a lot of money even purchased in bulk and would have been a fortune if I had had to buy bags at the nursery.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm not sure who ever coined the expression "Dirt cheap" but it ain't.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Many people will look for bargains and may not think about lead contamination.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    This subject needs much more attention than it receives.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Even the White House is treating their gardens. Blowing dust can contaminate raised beds and it is recommended that they be sited away from buildings in case they have lead paint or other construction materials.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Plants in lead contaminated soils take up and accumulate very little lead. The fruiting parts can take up almost nothing. There is slight uptake in leaves of leafy greens. The danger in urban areas is much greater from airborne contaminated dust than from any soils.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                      That NYT article pretty much makes that point. That the amount of lead in soil can vary greatly, that some vegetable and fruits absorb little while others absorb more, and that all need to be washed well, particularly in urban areas because of airborne contamination as well as soil that clings to the produce.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      There is also a difference in the effect on adults and little kids.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      We've got some areas in DC that have very high lead content and others where it is much lower.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      The important thing is that people are aware of it, especially if they have small children.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I've eaten stuff from my own garden for decades, but I'm currently working on some urban gardening projects that will feed other people, so I'm inclined to err on the side of caution.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm paying more attention to this now than I have in the past and urging the people I'm working with to do the same because we want people to do this right.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      We got questions about it that led to our asking questions and researching what was recommended.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Basically, I wonder if anything grown in the city would qualify as "organic." Cities are dirty places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Added Value urban farm in Red Hook Brooklyn is built on TOP of existing blacktop. Raised beds are a good alternative where soil remediation is difficult.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: pitu

                                                                                                                                                                                                          That's commonly agreed. As long as the soil used to fill the raised beds is OK.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          It's not helpful if the soil that is trucked in is also contaminated. A lot of the topsoil offered for sale is from construction excavations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm a major fan of raised beds. Except that the initial cost is pretty high, they cut down on the work substantially in the long run and are a lot easier on your back. The drainage is terrific. The best blend of container and in-ground gardening.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                                                                                            You an use recycled wood whose source is known to you. If you have the least concern, line it (the wood walls) with garden plastic or the stuff they use for artificial ponds. My neighbor uses those concrete bricks. Works like a charm. Of course there is probably something bad with that too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                        True that, Sam. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden recommends planting a hedge - green barrier to filter out all that particulate matter...

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                          That's right Sam. I read that same article. http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribu...

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sometimes you have to read an article and think to yourself... "does that make sense?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                          The rest of the article can tell you how to avoid lead contamination. If Makingsense is concerned , I suggest going over that article.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                                                                                                                                                            < "does that make sense?" >
                                                                                                                                                                                                            depends on where the garden is....

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I read the article. The area where I live, and that we are working in, is in an historic district. The houses are townhouses built before WWI, with most built in the Victorian era. The average lot size is 1500 to 1800 square feet, with some smaller than that. The paint and other construction materials are loaded with lead. The houses are right on streets and alleys. Prime areas for lead contamination and the soil usually tests very high so there is a greater cause for concern than many would find in suburban settings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            There is a lot of talk in CH about urban gardening and our situation is quite typical for the vacant lots and open space in inner cities that people want to use.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Many people don't think about the possibility of lead contamination - or other environmental hazards - when they plan urban gardens.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            I know that I didn't.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            One of the scientists quoted in the NYT article above said that he had "found lead concentrations as high as 65,000 p.p.m. in the yards of upscale homes."
                                                                                                                                                                                                            The Univ. of MN article says that "Generally, it has been considered safe to use garden produce grown in soils with total lead levels less than 300 ppm."
                                                                                                                                                                                                            That's a big damned difference.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            It worth checking. And worth testing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                                                                                              My gosh! That is frightening. I would never have thought about testing my soil had I not moved to an area where a paper mill once lived and did some heinous things to the surrounds. We do not live in the drift zone or close to their factory or dump site, but I do walk thru the area when I walk on the trail by the waterside. When I heard I could be spreading dioxin (among other things) into my house via my shoes... I'll admit itmade me reconsider my cavalier attitude about soil content.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Most people though should not worry needlessly about such things. Consider your envirnment and its past and also consider the motivations of the authors of articles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Did you test and if so what did you find?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                                                                                                                                                                We're still in the research phase for an urban lot that was a coal storage and distribution facility. The original remidiation has been done.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Everything around here tests high for lead because of the age of the neighborhood, building materials, and other factors. We're getting the lot completely cleared and then we'll do all the further testing.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm assuming that the lead levels will require further action and we'll use both lime and bioremediation through the winter, and then test again in the Spring.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Your admonition re: motivations is very important. Some people will skew data to make their preferred point.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                I personally prefer to use university materials such as the link you provided. They seem to be more even handed and less likely to slant.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks very much for posting that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Actually, I'm an agronomist and environmental scientist in real life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                              So the way I interpret that is that, yes, the airborne particulants can land on the plants or the soil but a far greater problem is just plain breathing it. Is that correct?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Edit: This was supposed to for Sam's reply upthread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I sometimes wonder about particulate in areas I know to be contaminated. The EPA came to my town before we got here (and continue to because there is a superfund site nearby. They did a set of testing that did not raise too many eyebrows around here (it was not widely published, but the info is on the web for all curious enough to seek it out). Anyway, they tested the rainwater that ran from the gutters on roofs from houses that are in the normal wind direction zone (my untechnical words) downwind from this dump site the paper mill used for the stuff that was the waste after processing. About 10 years after the closure of that dump site the rainwater collected was found to have dangerous levels of PCB's , dioxin, arsenic and other things that I cannot recall because I did not readily know what they were.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Food for thought.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I generally think there is crazy, overenthusiastic zeal for wanting identify this earth as hopelessly contaminated and that we are all doomed to bear children with a third eye because we have not properly washed our veggies with decontamination soap. I just think, give it a rest you paranoid freaks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think back to the children in my neighborhood following the mosquito truck as it sprayed poison to kill the skeeters.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                What the heck has become of us?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                We have this thread - about a woman who thinks she has discovered the fried egg and that we are a bunch of chemical munching turds who would not know a carrot if it poked us in the eye.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                We all need to take a step back and get a grip.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes. I am in a mood. Now if you will pardon me I have to go get my particulate mask, latex gloves and SPF shielding shirt on. I am going outside. You never know...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Don't forget your tin-foil hat before you exit the house ;) Your post made me giggle....thanx. adam

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: adamshoe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I wish it were a figment of my imagination. Look up rayonier mill superfund site and their dump on the EPA site if you think I am a nutter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I laughed until my town became a cancer hot zone. But by all means, point and laugh.