Foodie Superhero Alice Waters Comes to Brooklyn, Saves Gravesend

10/20/2010 1:21 PM |

carrots in the road

If you haven’t figured it out already, food (what we eat, how we eat it, where it comes from) is the next great battleground in the culture wars. Much like being well educated, eating good food (which costs a little more) has about it the stigma of elitism, a deeply ironic turnabout considering that a majority of the “good food” in Brooklyn is grown by farmers (former Every Man paragons of real America) within a hundred-mile radius.

So, how to combat the whole “only Northeastern elites eat food that tastes good and is good for them” trope? Get the kids growing their own food. Enter Alice Waters, local food icon and all around nice person…

Waters, who’s also the head chef at legendary west coast eatery Chez Panisse, was in Gravesend this past Friday for the opening ceremonies at PS 216’s new garden, a half-acre plot of earth behind the school (that used to just be asphalt). The project was spearheaded by 216’s principal, Celia Kapinsky, who was inspired by a visit to a Berkeley school doing the same thing. Said Kapinsky, of the way she noticed the schoolkids interacting with each other in the garden, and preparing food from the garden:

They were listening to one another, which unfortunately people don’t often do anymore. It was so meaningful.

This is a no-brainer for anyone who’s ever cooked something they also grew: somehow it tastes better, is more pleasurable, being there all the way from turning the soil to sauteeing the broccoli with butter and garlic… [drools]. But I digress.

Perhaps the best part of this story is the amount of public money involved ($2 million in grants from City Council and Brooklyn borough president). For too long, it seems, anything good or interesting in this city has come about through the enlightened philanthropy of private do-gooders—not a bad thing unto itself, but if we’re going to grow into the kind of sustainable society that won’t erupt into self-interested piratical fiefdoms that hoard water and raid each other’s seed crop in a hundred years, we’re going to need the full power of government.

So, yes, go socialism.