Food justice advocate Nikki Henderson and renowned Chez Panisse chef
Alice Waters dish on food, class, school lunch, and the healing of the
By Tom Philpott | Thu Aug. 11, 2011 3:00 AM PDT
Mother Jones: The last time I remember Chez Panisse and People's Grocery
interacting was in 2008, when People's Grocery's then-executive director
Brahm Ahmadi launched a stinging critique of Slow Food Nation,  which
Alice organized. He charged that Slow Food threatened to "suck the air"
out of the food movement, marginalizing low-income people of color. Now,
here the two of you are together. What gives?
Nikki Henderson: Something else that happened at Slow Food Nation is
that Van Jones and Alice Waters were on stage together for a panel.
And at that point I was working for Van as his aide, and I was the one
who kind of prepped him for that panel.
And so something else that I saw there was Oakland and Berkeley coming
together. And right after I left Green for All, I went to work for Slow
Food USA to try to figure out what the real story was, and fell head
over heels in love with the concept of slow food, and didn't find it at
all conflicting with the food justice movement's principles.
It was just that race and class and power and privilege were not
dissected enough to allow these two communities to come together
healthfully. And so one of the things about this course is that it's an
exploration over 14 weeks of those class and race and power dynamics.
AW: I think there's some extraordinary people within Slow Food who
really speak to food justice. One of them, of course, is its president
Carlo Petrini . Food justice, the right of everyone to eat well, is
something just that's deeply part of Slow Food; it comes from the
Italian labor movement. I also think that [Fast Food Nation author] Eric
Schlosser, who is one of my heroes, drives [the food justice issue] in a
beautiful way. Both will be speaking in Nikki and Michael's course.
Both the House and Senate budget plan would cut Social Security and Medicare,
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