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The Edible Schoolyard

The Edible Schoolyard

Location: Martin Luther King Middle School, Berkeley, CA

Featuring: Alice Waters, American chef, author, and proprietor of Chez Panisse, is an American pioneer of a culinary philosophy that maintains that cooking should be based on the finest and freshest seasonal ingredients that are produced sustainably and locally. She started the Edible Schoolyard project in 1996.

FIVE PRINCIPLES FOR EDIBLE EDUCATION
By Alice Waters

I. FOOD IS AN ACADEMIC SUBJECT
Ecology and gastronomy bring alive every subject from reading and writing to science and art.

II. SCHOOL PROVIDES LUNCH FOR EVERY CHILD
Good food is a right, not a privilege. It brings children into a positive relationship with their health, community and environment.

III. SCHOOLS SUPPORT FARMS
Cafeterias buy fresh food from local farms, not only for reasons of health but to strengthen local food economies.

IV. CHILDREN LEARN BY DOING
Children work in the vegetable beds and on the cutting boards to awaken their senses and open their minds, both to their core academic subjects and to the world around them.

V. BEAUTY IS LANGUAGE
A beautifully prepared environment, where deliberate thought has gone into everything from the pasts to the plates on the tables, communicates to children that we care about them

A Delicious Revolution

A Delicious Revolution

This is an excerpt from a speech delivered by Alice Waters at the Semana Mesa Sao Paulo conference on November 5, 2012. It has been edited for the web.

If we really want to change the food system in this world, really want to make lasting change, the greatest thing we can do is educate and empower the next generation.

I really believe that “public education is our last truly democratic institution.” School is the place where we can reach every child while their values are still being formed.

In an edible education, we place sense-oriented experience at the center of scholastic life.

We do this through placing food and food concerns at the center of – not only the school lunch program – but at the center of the curriculum of the whole school.

It means math becomes a practical, hands-on class taught in the environment of the farm and garden. A language class is enhanced by the translation of recipes or stories from other cultures. A biology class is illuminated by the activity in a compost heap or by studying and observing living animals and their habits. All classes are embedded in real, evolving, living environments. Things like biodiversity and interconnectedness and empathy are experienced instead of just talked about.

This isn’t just “gardens in schools” or an environmental awareness class, or the label on a piece of fruit, it’s a larger and more radical approach to teaching our kids how to live and trust their deeper selves, how to embrace Slow Food culture. And it’s also a way to make sure everyone is fed. It’s a positive and caring way – actually a more traditional way (we’ve just forgotten it).

Many years ago, I tried to think of a phrase to describe what I was doing in the public schools in the United States. I decided to call it A Delicious Revolution. I called it that because, one, I believe that tasty food and pleasure will bring everyone back to the table – back to their senses. But I also believed we needed a revolutionary spirit to get any of this done. I still believe we need that revolutionary spirit to get things done – now more than ever! But we’re not trying to throw anything over – we’re trying to win people over.