It’s not Nikes vs heirloom grapes, it’s food vs hunger.

With Slow Food constantly taking a hit for being elitist, I feel a great opportunity was lost to further our cause as I watched in horror while Alice Waters cooked her “quick” breakfast on 60 Minutes.

If food is a right–and I believe it is–how can we can we, as Slow Food co-leaders, defend our stance, when even our most outspoken leaders are accentuating these points of elitism? The average American does not make a quick breakfast of a fireplace baked egg and heirloom tomato salad, and the image or thought that they would is completely absurd.

Using the same ingredients, we would have been better served having her cook a breakfast of scrambled eggs with tomatoes and chives. Now that’s a meal most any American can cook, and the bonus: it doesn’t require a lavishly expensive home with a kitchen fireplace. It just requires a stove.

10 Responses to “It’s not Nikes vs heirloom grapes, it’s food vs hunger.”

  1. Mike Sweeney Says:

    And let’s not even begin on her response to, “Do you ever go to the grocery store?”


    For those of us that live in a land of seasons and don’t own a restaurant, we sometimes have to visit a grocery store. Usually every week! How about instead of worrying whether people are buying food “fresh” we worry if they’re making the right decisions about food in the first place?

    Personally, I’d rather see a family buy all of their produce and meat at Shop n’ Save and sit down and make a meal for their family than visit their local fast food restaurant for dinner.

    Just terrible.

  2. Ian Says:

    Didn’t Bourdain go off on Waters a few weeks ago for all the same reasons? Gotta find a link.

  3. Mike Sweeney Says:

  4. Alissa Says:

    Nor does it take into account that the people who are least likely to have the means to acquire fresh food easily are also the most likely to be working 2 or more jobs, and simply not have the time to spend an hour on dinner for their family.

    I’ve been thinking about food access a lot recently, and wondering about reviving the model of small neighborhood grocers that cater to local needs. You certainly see this a lot in south city, between the various ethnic grocers. So why not have a corner vegetable market? This doesn’t even have to be a Local Harvest, just something other than the standard packaged foods on racks.

  5. Mike Sweeney Says:

    “I’ll tell you. Alice Waters annoys the living shit out of me. We’re all in the middle of a recession, like we’re all going to start buying expensive organic food and running to the green market. There’s something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic. I mean I’m not crazy about our obsession with corn or ethanol and all that, but I’m a little uncomfortable with legislating good eating habits. I’m suspicious of orthodoxy, the kind of orthodoxy when it comes to what you put in your mouth. I’m a little reluctant to admit that maybe Americans are too stupid to figure out that the food we’re eating is killing us. But I don’t know if it’s time to send out special squads to close all the McDonald’s. My libertarian side is at odds with my revulsion at what we as a country have done to ourselves physically with what we’ve chosen to eat and our fast food culture. I’m really divided on that issue. It’d be great if he [Obama] served better food at the White House than what I suspect the Bushies were serving. It’s gotta be better than Nixon. He liked starting up a roaring fire, turning up the air conditioning, and eating a bowl of cottage cheese with ketchup. Anything above that is a good thing. He’s from Chicago, so he knows what good food is.”

  6. Mac Says:

    It’s interesting, although really not that surprising that someone with such good vision (that might be a stretch) could be so blind about her audience.

    She comes off in the article as pretty pompous and completely out of touch with reality…I bet she grew up rich. That’ll get’em every time.

  7. Dave Baker Says:

    At least she got Michelle Obama to put in a garden at the White House.

  8. Kelly Says:

    Absolutely, and she deserves kudos for getting the garden at the white house and a million other things she has done, but the point is that she did not come off as an effective speaker for the movement on 60 Minutes. One of the biggest challenges we have is connecting the average person with integrating fresh, good and often local food into their lives. Who relates to having a fire place in their kitchen and cooking eggs over it. I mean that comes off as something only the most wealthy can afford and do. It does cost more money to buy fresh, good food. However, it doesnt’ cost more to grow it, she could have made that point and a few others.

  9. Marc Says:

    Let’s all remember that this was television. The interview was edited down to give Alice Waters two or three word answers to all the questions. Faced with the totally incredulous stance of Lesley Stahl conviction comes across as blind idealism. She doesn’t need sloppy journalism to make her look like a (bigger) flake.
    I’m not defending Alice Waters. She lives in the most rarefied section of a world (both geographically and philosophically) different than the rest of the country. But I lived and cooked professionally in San Francisco, and it was so easy to get to a farmers market or corner green grocer that I would bristle at the idea of buying onions at Safeway. The access/elitism argument makes my head spin so fast it makes me nauseous. It was not only bad form for her to try to explain how easy it is for anyone to cook organic from her kitchen fireplace, it was totally unconvincing. This was a missed opportunity. If Alice Waters really wanted to show how anyone can cook organic she could have made braised greens with toast and an egg, for a family of four for under eight dollars. Or she could have just fried the egg.
    But she has inspired an entire generation of cooks to think about where their food comes from. Her Edible Schoolyard project has people clamoring to fund it, it’s not exactly realistic, but it is an example to inspire the rest of the country. And I think that is what she is trying to do. Don’t we need people on the fringes making a lot of noise in order to move the discussion? I’m not saying she is taking the movement in the right direction, but she did start the movement. It’s up to the rest of us to steer.
    By the way I did appreciate the STL shout-out.

  10. Kelly Says:

    Marc that is a really good point about how television edits in a way to manipulate how they want a scene or a person to be perceived. No doubt that was going on here. And yes, I think we definitely need the people on the fringes to make noise and get attention. However, I think we have reached the point to discuss what is the solution. The people on the fringes have made the noise and we now have the attention of a much broader audience, so how do we move forward in an organized way to make an impact and convince people to care about where their food comes from and how it is made.

    By the way, we (Slow Food) are putting in an Edible Schoolyard in Webster Groves at Shining Rivers for not very much money. It will be amazing and I think we will be able to show people what they can accomplish for little money.

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