Childhood obesity has taken center stage as children’s #1 health problem.
Senators and Congressmen are joining forces and passing legislation for mandatory physical education and many states are reinstating recess. Pediatricians are attempting to advise parents to attain a healthy body weight for their children. The emphasize that healthy bodies healthy minds go hand in hand. Legislators, administrators, and community leaders have joined forces to remove unhealthy food choices from vending machines while transforming school lunch menus across the country.
All facets of society, including business, government, and families recognize childhood obesity as a growing problem and are taking action!
Peaceful Playgrounds champions the efforts of individuals and organizations who actively work towards creating healthy bodies and healthy minds. One such person, we’d like to spotlight as a health advocate is Alice Waters.
Alice Waters was recognized in the “healthy living and eating” sphere long before “childhood obesity” became a documented epidemic. She began creating awareness of the importance of healthy eating by opening an infamous Berkley restaurant called Chez Panisse.
For several decades, this French bistro has continued to develop a network of local farmers and ranchers whose dedication to sustainable agriculture assures Chez Panisse a steady supply of pure and fresh ingredients.
She follows the philosophy of serving only the highest quality products and only when they are in season which guarantees a fresh product. She was also one of the first to serve antibiotic and hormone free meats and insists on fresh, organic, locally-grown fruits and vegetables.1
She has also written eight cookbooks on healthy eating and preaches about fresh food grown in a way that’s good for the environment. Her latest venture has been to start a foundation that grants schools the opportunity to grow and taste healthy foods called “The Edible Schoolyard”.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said, “She has, I think, done more to change our eating habits, for the better, than anyone in the United States of America.”
Ms. Waters has also received numerous accolades:
- Chez Panisse was named Best Restaurant in America by Gourmet magazine in 2001.
- Bon Appétit magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000.
- James Beard Humanitarian Award in 1997.
- She was named Best Chef in America by the James Beard Foundation in 1992.
- Cuisine et Vins de France listed her as one of the ten best chefs in the world in 1986.
Slow Food vs. Fast Food
A good way to sum up modern society is “Go, Go, Go!”. We all seem to be caught up in the hustle and bustle of crossing things off our To-Do Lists and not much time for specifically thinking about the food that we eat, where it comes from and how our bodies, minds, and environment are affected.
The Slow Food movement aims to preserve the cultural cuisine and the associated food plants and seeds, domestic animals, and farming within an ecoregion. Alice has spearheaded the movement in America, a healthy alternative to “fast food.”
Our society is dominated by “fast food”. One startling statistic is that “75% of Americans are eating their dinners at home, however nearly 50% of those meals consist of fast food from restaurants or grocery delis.”
The Slow Food movement2 and the Organic Consumers Association are working to reverse these changes and bring families back to the dinner table, with the benefits of agricultural sustainability, better health, better relationships with friends and family, and good flavor.”3
They recognize that it is not only our bodies that are paying the price of unhealthy eating but also our minds and our environment. That is why the focus is not just about the food you intake but also where it’s coming from.
They advocate locally grown, which will diminish a number of gases used to transport it as well as preservatives or packaging waste created in transporting it to you. “I think we have to understand that there are consequences for every decision we make every day,” Alice commented.4
Alice says, “People are starting to realize that the way that we’ve been eating is making us sick”. “We consume lousy food. This is killing us. I mean it really is. And this whole movement to me is the antidote for that,” says San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.
The slow food movement has been heavily supported by SF Mayor Gavin, who supported a Slow Food Festival at which over 80,000 people attended. So it’s no surprise that slow food is also working its way into schools in the San Francisco area.