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Alice Waters teaches slow food values in a fast food world

July 23, 2015 at 6:20 PM EDT
Alice Waters, owner and former chef of the legendary Chez Panisse restaurant and maven of the slow food movement, says the best way to combat fast food culture is through “edible education.” Waters offers her Brief but Spectacular take on the benefits of cooking and inspiring young people to care about their food.

GWEN IFILL: Now, another in a series of interviews we’re calling Brief But Spectacular.

Tonight, we hear from Alice Waters, the chef and owner of the famed Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California. She’s a pioneer in the movement for a food economy that she says can be good, clean and fair.

Here, Waters talks about the benefits of working in the kitchen, and how to inspire young people to grow and cook their own food.

ALICE WATERS, Chef: When you eat fast food, you not only eat the food that is unhealthy for you, but you digest the values that comes with that food. And they’re really about fast, cheap and easy.

It’s so important that we understand that things can be affordable, but they can never be cheap, because, if they’re cheap, somebody’s missing out. The fast food culture tells us that, you know, cooking is not something important, and it can be in the basement, it can be in the back, when, in fact, it’s the most important work that we do.

I think it is the unrealistic values of a fast food culture that are really making us very unhappy, that we’re all going a little crazy. We spend as much searching for our cell phone than we do preparing a meal.

I think that the very best way to teach slow food values in a fast food culture is through edible education. And so I created a project called the Edible Schoolyard. Our public school system is our last truly democratic institution. It’s the one place where we can reach every child.

The idea is to bring them into a new relationship to food and agriculture. And they’re learning about history of a foreign country, and they’re cooking the food of that place.

Probably the greatest lesson I have learned from the Edible Schoolyard project is that, when children grow food and they cook it, they all want to eat it.

I’m Alice Waters. And this is my Brief But Spectacular take on edible education.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And you can see more Brief But Spectacular takes on breaking barriers, racism, poetry, and more. Those are on our Facebook page.