Our November HerStory recipient is Alice Waters, who is known for her advocacy of local, organic, and healthful eating. She opened her restaurant, Chez Panisse, in 1971, and helped to pioneer what’s now known as California cuisine, a food movement based around on using local and sustainable ingredients with a focus on foods in season. Immersing herself in local and sustainable food set Waters apart from much of what was happening in the food scene, and inspired her food activism.
In developing Chez Panisse, Alice Waters realized that she had to create her own network of farmers and food producers, because the framework for organic, local foods simply did not exist. Her advocacy for organic foods arose as a matter of taste. Simply put, she discovered that organic foods just plain tasted better, and that’s why she started to use them and seek them out.
In 1996, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Chez Panisse and to further promote and expand on her own food activism, Waters created the Chez Panisse Foundation, with the mission of transforming public education by using food to teach, nurture, and empower young people. The foundation created the Edible Food Program and the School Lunch Initiative, both of which began in the Berkeley Unified School District in Berkeley, CA, but have been adopted by limited school districts nationwide. The Edible Food Program involves students in growing the food that is served in their school cafeteria, and promotes school gardens and gardening being incorporated into the daily curriculum. The School Lunch Initiative is focused on providing healthful school lunches to students. Waters is a vocal critic of existing American school lunch programs, and has been pushing for healthier options, based in organic ingredients. She inspired Michelle Obama’s planting of a White House garden, and was one of Obama’s inspirations in her Let’s Move campaign.
Waters continues to advocate for healthier school lunches for children in the USA. She is working to expand both the Edible Food Program and the School Lunch Initiative nationwide, and has been working toward free school lunches in all public schools in the US. She is also working with Yale University on a sustainable-food program, and is an integral part of the Slow Food Movement, which is dedicated to preserving local, sustainable, small-scale food programs around the world. Our Chez Yarn colorway is a playful celebration of good food, sustainable choices, and fibery tastiness. We hope you enjoy something local while knitting up this skein.