Dear Mr. Oliver,
First, I think that what you are doing is profound. And as a mother who loves to cook healthy food for my daughter I am with you every step from using fresh, local (and organic) ingredients to fostering my daughter's love of cooking.
In addition, her school, Larchmont Charter school -- which we helped to start 5 years ago -- is the proud recipient of the prestigious Edible School Yard from Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Foundation. ESY is a one-acre organic garden and kitchen classroom for urban public school students. The theory is that by participating in all aspects of growing, harvesting and preparing nutritious, seasonal produce, children gain a deep understanding of the way the natural world sustains us -- and in turn the way we need to be conscious of our responsibility to sustain it.
In addition -- since the school is dedicated to both economic and ethnic diversity -- our students are over 40% non-white and nearly 30% of our families are eligible to receive free/reduced-price meals. Because we are a community that cares deeply about the health of our children, our hot lunch program features locally grown and organic foods prepared by an on-site chef.
So I hope you can see that I am with you and I get it.
But as I sat and watched your two hour premiere last night I was distracted by all the waste. The lack of awareness of the environmental impact of the way in which you are disposing of the bottles, cans , cartons -- not to mention the food itself -- was very difficult to watch. In light of a deep recession, the complete lack of attention to what it must look like to most people who are struggling to get food -- any food on the table -- to see the mounds of discarded food just sitting there, was astounding. I believe this takes away from the crucial messages you are delivering. Why not talk about composting the food? Or calling a biogas facility to come collect all the bottles, etc.? Or sending the grease to make biodiesel? Gone are the days when this kind of thinking belongs only to the granola eating, tree hugging, hybrid driving "elite". Everyone should be encouraged to think this way and our children are way ahead of us on this one.
So Jamie, forgive me for being critical, but your passion needs to be holistic -- geared toward the entire system -- not just our bodies. Kids get that the planet we inhabit is the supplier of all of this fresh and healthy food you are promoting. Gone are the days when we can compartmentalize -- our respect and concern for what we put into our bodies has to live side by side with how we treat the world around us. It is a little like promoting world peace by pointing a gun at everyone saying if they don't get with the program your going to blow them away.
As important as it is for our children to radically change their relationship to food -- and in fact be educated to understand what food really is -- fuel for the systems of the body -- they also must be shown the vital connection between the food and our collective and individual responsibility to grow it responsibly, to consume it consciously, and to dispose of it respectfully.
So I humbly ask you -- no I beg you -- to consider the whole picture. You are very dedicated to showing all of us the value -- both economically and nutritionally -- of real food. Please see that there is a crucial connection between the way we process and dispose of our food and the environmental crises we face. We can walk and chew gum at the same time -- and if it is a revolution you are after and a movement you are out to encourage -- you simply can't kick this to the curb.
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