Many years ago when I lived in the Bay Area, I dined at chef Alice Waters‘ iconic and influential California cuisine restaurant, Chez Panisse. I don’t remember what I had, but I remember that the experience and food were outstanding.
I would love to go back some day. Not for the food, though. No, I want to get in her kitchen. I want to get in her grill. I want to rake her arrogant, ignorant, sanctimonious, hippie chef/food activist ass over her own coals. Excuse me, organic, locally-grown coals. (Oh, I’m sure they exist.)
This 60s leftover has views on our nation’s vital yet heavily abused National School Lunch Program that would make a thoughtful and reasonable Iron Chef gag on his Kobe beef tartar. She’s founder of the Edible Schoolyard (mmm, monkey bars….delicious!) whose mission “involves students in all aspects of farming the garden and preparing, serving, and eating food as a means of awakening their senses and encouraging awareness and appreciation of the transformative values of nourishment, community, and stewardship of the land.”
Wow, that’s a mouthful—nourishment, community, and stewardship! Boy, does that sound good!
No wonder the average American student can’t pass a US history quiz; they’re too busy gardening—for food that “does not supply the food that is served to students during the lunch period.” What the fuck? It’s not even served in the lunches? So what are they doing outside? Hard to say, but I do know they’re away from the books and plastic fruit that could teach them the same things.
I have many beefs with our National School Lunch Program. First and foremost is that it provides meals to children whose parents household income exceeds (far exceeds in many cases) the original intended poverty-line threshold of the program enacted by President Truman. In fact, these days almost 50% of school children get a fully subsidized lunch or have to pay for a portion of that meal through the program.
But more on that in a minute, back to the Food Revolutionists.
What bothers me is that so-called Food Revolution spawned a cottage industry of nuts like Alice Waters, Ann Cooper (another food activist) and that limey English chef and overall twat Jaime Oliver, who all think they can solve America’s obesity issue (or, “epidemic”, if you like gross hyperbole) by incorporating more organic and “healthier” foods in the NSLP—all under the guise that it’s “for the children!” (insert cries, wails and gnashing of teeth here).
Trouble is, while their intentions are good, they are misguided, unrealistic, teach greater dependence on government and would be very costly to implement.
Organics are expensive—really, really fucking expensive—to produce and distribute. This is fine for a restaurants like Chez where the customers can choke down organic food and rhetoric topped off by a nice chocolate mint (made with free-trade cocoa beans, no doubt) then pay the bill. But in reality, and as was reported recently, most people can’t afford to eat “healthy”. And “most people” includes local school districts that can’t afford to introduce organics into their already Karen Carpenter-thin budgets.
Which really undermines Waters’ point that, “We have to get over the idea that food should be cheap….In terms of the damage to our health, our culture and our planet, that extra cost is nothing.”
Okay, Alice, let’s just ignore that there’s really no scientific evidence linking organics with healthier people; or that organic farming actually takes up more land and is half as productive as Big Farming industry (insert evil music here); or that there are numerous conflicting studies regarding the actual nutritional value of organics; or that the majority of organic food doesn’t come bucolic, family-run farms but from Big-Ass farms in Big-Ass states.
And cheap food? Stop the Chicken McNugget pressers! We can’t have cheap food! That will feed more people on the already overcrowded planet! We can’t have that! Oops, shit. I let that one doozy slip out.
What needs to happen is for someone to say this:
Dear parents, years before the Food Revolution hit, moms and dads packed their kids lunches, kindergarten through high school. As kids, we got a sandwich, chips, fruit, a drink and maybe a fruit roll up. (Heck, maybe even last night’s leftovers if they were good—like pizza or BBQ chicken legs, none of that broccoli casserole shit, though.) We even had cool-as-shit lunch boxes to put them in—Scooby Doo, Batman, SuperFriends, NFL, etc. Now at night, you’re watching Bristol Palin on “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Real Housewives of (insert affluent city here). We understand. After a long day at work, the 10 minutes it takes to make a lunch is too much for you. You need to relax. But here’s the message to all of you, rich and poor: Along with God, you brought this child into the world, it’s your obligation—no, no, it’s your moral and God-giving fucking duty to feed them breakfast, lunch and dinner, you simple lazy pukes! We’re cutting you off, right now. Today.
To the most destitute and unfortunate among us whose children are attending public schools, our compassion for you is great. If you can’t afford to feed your children lunch, then we as a society will help you with a simple, affordable and hopefully hot lunch—the original and noble intention of Truman’s NSLP.
Last, but not in the least, to the Food Nazis like Waters, Cooper and Oliver. Let me put this in a simple way that even you can understand: you are the parsley on society’s plate—unwanted, unnecessary and annoying. And you don’t even make good breath mint substitute, either.
(I feel like I was channeling Penn Gillette here, but fuck it. I’ve sounded like him for years.)