Food Activist Alice Waters Takes to Web, Mulls TV

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Associated Press

Food Activist Alice Waters Takes to Web, Mulls TV

by
Michelle Locke

In this photo taken Aug. 28, 2008, Alice Waters, the executive chef and owner of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., is shown attending the opening dinner of Slow Food Nation in San Francisco. The California-based food activist says she's exploring new ways of spreading her message about the importance of fresh, local food and supporting the farmers who grow it, including a possible TV show, though talks for that still are in the early stages. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

BERKELEY, Calif. — Alice Waters is unlikely to become the next Food
Network Iron Chef. But with sustainable eating hot fodder for celebrity
chefs, the woman many credit with planting the seeds of the movement
may make the jump to her own television program.

The
California-based food activist says she's exploring new ways of
spreading her message about the importance of fresh, local food and
supporting the farmers who grow it, including a possible TV show,
though talks for that still are in the early stages.

"I want so much for this message about food to reach people," Waters said in an interview.

Waters
put her quest for new connections into action Wednesday, participating
in an online video conference that saw her taking questions about
cooking and food policy from her Berkeley kitchen. She earlier held a
similar session with bloggers.

The notion of eating fresh and
local never has been more popular. Chefs from Rachael Ray to Paula Deen
are talking about the importance of nutrition, Michelle Obama is
leading a national charge against child obesity, and Jamie Oliver
recently turned his effort to reform the diet of a West Virginia town
into a hit reality television program.

"It's so unbelievably
gratifying," said Waters. "I think we're all talking about real food
vs. imitation food. That's the place we need to go."

Waters, who
opened her landmark Chez Panisse restaurant in 1971, has been widely
praised for programs such as The Edible Schoolyard that she started at
a Berkeley middle school, and has since spread elsewhere, teaching
students about food, health, and the environment. But she's also been
criticized as being out-of-touch with average working families, partly
because of her message that good food is worth paying a premium for.

Waters
reiterated her belief that good food is a good investment. "You either
pay up front, or you pay out back," she said. "You either pay in your
health and your way of life and the health of the planet or you come
into a new relationship with food."

But Waters — whose latest
book "In the Green Kitchen," features simple techniques from a number
of chefs — said eating well doesn't have to mean a big expense. Eating
meat every day is expensive, but learning how to cook different things,
such as inexpensive lentils and chickpeas or faro is not. "It's what
this book is all about. It's really about demystifying food."

Oliver, whose ABC show "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution," documents his efforts to change eating habits in Huntington, W.Va.,
said in an e-mail that Waters "has created a program that works
brilliantly for her community. She has found a way to get everyone on
board and really teaches kids and adults about proper food. And she
teaches them to really enjoy and cherish it too. Her books bring her
recipes to everyone. There's nothing elitist about that."

Waters said that if she does a television show, she would like it to be on public television.

"Some
of my heroes of cooking have been on PBS in the past," she said. The
show might feature guests, famous or not, farmers and suppliers to Chez
Panisse. "I feel like I need to be in a place where I can bring a lot
of different people into that kitchen."

 

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