Since reading “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan, I have become increasingly aware of the importance of eating organic, locally grown, and sustainable food. I believe that the most flavorful food is made from the best seasonal ingredients harvested at the peak of ripeness. I also believe that America’s problems with obesity and diabetes are tightly bound to the prevalence of fast food, prepackaged food with preservatives, and outrageous portion sizes. Industrial farmers have adopted deplorable practices to increase crop yield, while compromising quality. For these reasons I am a supporter of the “Slow Food” movement for which Alice Waters is a driving force in America. Chef Waters firmly believes that the American system of agriculture, food industry, and government policy are having significant detrimental effects on the health and well being of the American people. She emphasizes the importance of the connection between food and consumer that she believes has been lost in industrial farming. She encourages buyers to support local farmers through farmer’s markets.
Chef Waters’ method of cooking is simple but meticulous. She approaches cooking with a sense of reverence and an obvious appreciation for food. Her cooking amplifies the natural beauty and flavor of the ingredients. Her recipes typically include a short list of the freshest ingredients available, which produces an exceptional end product. What she is capable of doing with a few quality ingredients, many chefs cannot achieve with twice the number of average ingredients.
She has authored numerous cookbooks and is credited with helping to create California cuisine. She is also the executive chef and co-owner of Chez Panisse in Berkley, California. The fixed menu changes daily, reflecting the seasonal produce. I hold her restaurant in high esteem, and aspire to someday own a farm to table restaurant. I strive to apply her simplicity in cooking to the food which I create, remembering that truly delicious food does not have to be over complicated and fussy. I also respect her for her determination to work towards changing the system. Although her philosophy can be taken to the extreme, overall I think that her message about fresh real food is important for Americans to hear. While I have not yet had the pleasure of dining at Chez Panisse, I look forward to doing so one day.