For Immediate Release
Organic Consumers Association to Picket Chez Panisse Restaurant on Thursday, April 1st, Noon, in Berkeley, CA
Alice Waters, World Famous Organic Food Chef and Promoter of Safe School Gardens, Does Not Oppose Growing Food on Toxic Sewage Sludge
BERKELEY, Calif. - Thursday, April 1st is the 30th birthday of the famous Chez
Panisse Cafe in Berkeley, California, owned by iconic chef and safe food
advocate Alice Waters. At noon it will be picketed by the Organic
Consumers Association (OCA) in a protest against the dumping of toxic
sewage sludge on gardens in the Bay Area.
OCA Director Ronnie
Cummins announced: "On behalf of our hundreds of thousands of members we
are protesting the failure of Alice Waters to oppose growing food on
toxic sewage sludge, often deceptively labeled as 'organic compost.'"
is leading a campaign to stop the San Francisco Public Utilities
Commission (PUC) from giving away sewage sludge "compost" to
unsuspecting gardeners in the Bay Area including school gardens.
However, the Executive Director of Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Foundation
is the Vice President of the PUC, Francesca Vietor. Both Vietor and
Waters support growing food on toxic sewage sludge.
Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed Vietor as a leader of the PUC in 2008.
Since then the PUC has given away thousands of tons of toxic sewage
sludge for use on gardens and farms.
The Organic Consumers
Association and the Center for Food Safety have been opposing the PUC
dumping of toxic sewage sludge and want the PUC to clean up the gardens
contaminated with the PUC's toxic sludge.
A March 23, 2010 letter
from OCA National Director Ronnie Cummins to Alice Waters reads in
"Considering that the sludge was given to several local
schools for use on their educational gardens, your work with the Edible
Schoolyard should especially elicit your concern. This is certainly in
direct opposition to the standards that Chez Panisse Foundation and the
Edible Schoolyard encourage and uphold. It seems to us a clear conflict
of interest that Francesca Vietor should serve as both the Executive
Director of the Chez Panisse Foundation and the Vice President of the
PUC. In light of your dedication to non-GMO foods, would you have the
Vice President of Monsanto as your Executive Director? The two do not
seem much dissimilar as both work for organizations that compromise the
integrity of the movement for which you are both a pioneer and a leading
On March 30 Alice Waters emailed her response to OCA
which reads in its entirety:
"I have been involved with the
organic garden movement for 40 years. I believe in the transparency of
public institutions and count on the government to offer the highest
standards outlined by the Organic Consumers Association and other
reliable advocates. I look forward to reviewing the science and working
with the SFPUC to ensure the safety of composting methods. I support
Francesca Vietor, Executive Director of the Chez Panisse Foundation and a
PUC commissioner, whose environmental work I have admired for many
years and whose integrity has been questioned. Alice Waters, Owner and
Founder of Chez Panisse Restaurant and Foundation."
Cummins, Director of the Organic Consumers Association, responded:
"Growing food on sewage sludge violates USDA Organic Standards and
threatens public safety. We are shocked and disappointed that Alice
Waters has now become a poster child for food grown on toxic sewage
sludge. Is food served at Chez Panisse grown on toxic sewage sludge? Is
toxic sewage sludge used to grow food in Alice Waters' Edible Schoolyard
program? We hope Alice's many admirers and customers will ask her to
oppose growing food on toxic sewage sludge."
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The OCA deals with crucial issues of food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children's health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability and other key topics. We are the only organization in the US focused exclusively on promoting the views and interests of the nation's estimated 50 million organic and socially responsible consumers.