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Alice Waters on school lunches

Start a local lunchroom revolution
Go straight to the principal's office. (A group of parents who band together is even better.) Say, "We want to know what you're serving the children. We want to know what's in it, where you're getting it, how it's being prepared." Just open the conversation. There's never enough money—because we have to re-fund public education in order to make this happen.

(I would like a tax on fast food, certainly on sodas. It could bring in billions.) But you can begin to change some of the choices they're making. I also recommend things like arranging for field trips to farms where kids can pick fruits and vegetables. Make a picnic out there. Take kids away from campus and into the paradise.


"Our kids are really being indoctrinated by fast-food values. It's not just the food they're eating that's unhealthy. They're learning a set of values—and it's about fast, cheap, and easy. It's the idea that everywhere you go, food should be the same. It should have no relation to the seasons. It should be a narrow range of things that you're eating. It should be available all the time. It's OK to waste; there's always more where that came from. Advertising confers values. All of these things, they're learning.

We need to bring in a curriculum that teaches kids about stewardship of the land. They need to learn about nourishment. They need to learn about communication at the table. They need to learn about conserving natural resources … just a set of values that helps us share this planet with a lot of other people.

I'm not telling them what to eat; it's about bringing them into a new relationship with food. They can fall in love with the beauty of nature, with our cultural traditions. And good health will be the outcome of this love affair.

When kids grow it and cook it, they eat it! That I know. It's the hands-on experience that really changes their attitudes and their habits. And I think they're hungry, not just for food, but for people to take care of them and to care about them—and food is about care, should be about care. The people who are out there in the fast-food nation aren't concerned about that. They're concerned about profits."

Alice Waters founded Chez Panisse Restaurant and Café in Berkeley, California, in 1971, and has written several cookbooks. To learn more about her pioneering work supporting school gardens and educational programs, go to

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