Alice Waters is an American chef and restaurateur. She owns the restaurant, Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. This restaurant is famous for its organic and locally grown ingredients. She is passionate about good food that is also healthy and friendly to the environment. One of her main passions is shaping the way that children understand food. She founded the Chez Panisse Foundation in 1996 and created the Edible Schoolyard program at the Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkeley. These programs establish an organic garden and kitchen classroom in the school. Students are then involved in growing, harvesting, and preparing foods from the garden, with the aim of promoting the environmental and social well being of the school community and encouraging healthy and nutritional eating habits. She is a strong advocate for fighting childhood obesity and changing the school lunch programs in America. I found some speeches and articles that she wrote, which address these topics as a businesswoman in today’s society.
In an article Waters wrote in the NY Times entitled “No Lunch Left Behind”, she describes how “the National School Lunch Program contains some of the same ingredients found in fast food, an the resulting meals routinely fail to meet basic nutritional standards.” This is one of the main problems that cause childhood obesity. In speech about preventing childhood obesity, Waters states that nine million children over 6 are obese and we need to address the diet part of the equation. She believes that schools should teach nutritional food values in an interactive, hands-on way, as an academic subject. Waters believes that “not only are children eating this unhealthy food, they’re digesting the values that go with it: the idea that food has to be fast, cheap, and easy; that abundance is permanent and effortless; that it doesn’t matter where food actually comes from.” Her main philosophy is that healthy lives begin with learning about a healthy lifestyle as children. It all starts with education. She states, “We can teach students to choose good food and to understand how their choices affect their health and the environment.” Her idea is to basically scrap the old school lunch program and start from scratch. She says that a wholesome meal would cost about $5 per child or $27 billion a year. This is expensive but as she states, “a healthy school lunch program would bring long-term savings and benefits in the areas of hunger, children’s health and dietary habits, food safety (contaminated peanuts have recently found their way into school lunches), environmental preservation and energy conservation.” Overall, her ideas present a new way to address childhood obesity and would change the way children think about food.
These articles can aid in my research for my white paper because it addresses the topic of what the educational system can do to help fight childhood obesity. Her ideas of hands-on learning can be a cost-effective way of trying to teach children to fight obesity on their own. I plan to address the Baltimore County school district as an audience and I can use her words and ideas as a framework for potential suggestions. As a famous chef and someone who promotes organic growing, Alice Waters sets an example of how to eat healthy food that also tastes good. She is a positive advocate for fighting childhood obesity and will help in my overall goal of trying to address the complex subject of obesity.