It's easy to laugh at Berkeley. So Right-on. So Convinced. So Radical. So Parochial. And yet, as I see it, they do seem to heading in the right direction. At least three links today persuade me of that.
First, Ann Cooper, director of nutrition services for the Berkeley Unified School District. I listened to her TedTalk on the train to work this morning. Sure she's snide, but that's another view of passionate. And sure she makes some Aunt Sally statements about chemicals and poisons and healthy planets that would be easy to knock over. But take in the argument as a whole; I find it hard to fault. And there are some truly scary numbers in there. See what you think. And if you want more, there's her web site, and an interview in The Nation.
That's what you might call the serious side of Berkeley foodways. Across the street, as it were, Seth Roberts blogged about Park(ing) Day 2008.
PARK(ing) Day is a one-day, global event centered in San Francisco where artists, activists, and citizens collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spots into "PARK(ing)" spaces: temporary public parks.
Seth wrote about a picnic he encountered filling two spaces on busy Shattuck Avenue. Turns out, you can't simply occupy a parking space by putting money in the meter. You need a permit. "Parking spaces are for cars," said the cop. I wonder. Maybe next year the eaters will be equipped with a permit to picnic.
And finally, there's our man Hijmans' well-deserved field trip to the mother lode of Berkeley foodism: Chez Panisse. After a week of exemplary blogging for us over at the other place, he plonked his money down to worship at the temple. His verdict?
Chez Panisse is passé now. Go look somewhere else. ...
Chez Panisse is sold out every night, I think. Alice can experiment. But she does not. She chooses the middle of the road. Their produce comes from "farms, ranches, and fisheries guided by principles of sustainability" but the majority of entrees (main dishes) are a fish or meat dish.
Chuck out the meat. Serve different varieties of other veggies than tomatoes (even the Andronico's supermarket across the street sells heirlooms). Use something locally evolved rather than merely locally grown. The native Californians used hundreds of edible plants. But no miner's lettuce or acorns on the menu of the Queen of Slow Food. Come on, Alice, surprise me!
He said he planned to return. I'll await a further report. Meanwhile, I'm still tempted ...