SFN Day 2: Alice in Wonderland

by | Aug 30, 2008

I just returned from my second day at Slow Food Nation and it was spectacular! The sun was shining, the Market was bustling, people were smiling and I ate the most amazing sausage EVER from Fatted Calf (and an amazing pluot popsicle from Bi-Rite Creamery–it was an indulgent day).

I must confess that early in the morning I could not resist making a trip to the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market because I remembered from the previous day that the Slow Food Market did not have Padrones (maybe I should start a 12-step program?). The wonderful woman at Happy Quail Farms told me they were in fact asked to be at Slow Food, but refused because they are just too small a farm to handle the load. Totally understandable.

The late morning I spent roaming the Victory Garden, eating with my friends and even making some new ones. At around 11:30 a.m. I accidentally bumped into Alice Waters and mayor Gavin Newsom doing a spot for 60 Minutes. It was really exciting! Keep your eyes open for me in my bright orange, Slow Food Nation t-shirt….

Later in the afternoon I attended the Food for Thought session “Edible Education,” presented by Alice herself, Van Jones, Founder and President of Green For All, Craig McNamara, President and Founder of the Center for Land-Based learning, and Josh Viertel, Director of the Yale Sustainable Food Project. The session was moderated by Katrina Heron, director of the Chez Panisse Foundation. Sadly, Dr. Tony Recasner of Green Charter and New Orleans Charter Middle schools was unable to attend the session as scheduled because of the evacuation status in New Orleans due to Hurricane Gustav.

The discussion focused on ways of building a curriculum of food and health into public schools. According to Waters, we all eat every day, and our food choices impact our health, the environment and our culture. She believes we must install a system to teach kids to make the right decisions when choosing what to eat, which means teaching a new set of values. The goal is to “bring children into a new relationship with food through pleasure.”

Panelists shared a number of inspiring success stories and also addressed some of the difficulties that still need to be overcome. There was general agreement that these issues must be addressed at the national level, but that change must first start at the local level. From my vantage point, however, they seemed to be at a loss for how to close this gap in a practical way. Despite this, the conversation was inspiring and raised a lot of critical issues facing the health of our youth, our country and our planet.

Tomorrow I will be visiting the Taste Pavilions and I hope to see many of you there!

What do you think of Slow Food Nation so far?

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