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Real Food Goes Mainstream

Alice Waters, one of the major movers and shakers in the Real Food Revolution, actually got 15 minutes of prime time mainstream media coverage last night. On 60 Minutes.

The reporter covering the story, Leslie Stahl, didn’t seem convinced. At one point in the video below, Alice Waters made Ms. Stahl breakfast. Her goal? To show how quickly Real Food could be prepared and how tasty it can be.


That was when Ms. Stahl’s voice-over pointed out that Alice Waters lived in a different world. Why? Alice didn’t own a microwave. Heaven forbid! How do you live without a microwave? Ms. Stahl asked. Is this practical for busy moms? Should we really expect them to chop tomatoes, toast bread, and cook eggs each morning?

From there, Ms. Stahl only got more annoying. Her final, ultra-heavy-hitting question had to do with whether or not, in this economy, we could afford to eat this way. Could we afford to teach our children how to grow and cook their own food, as Alice Waters does with her Edible Schoolyard project in a Berkeley, CA school?

Alice had the right response. “We can’t afford not to.”

On so many levels, she’s right. As Ed Bruske of The Slow Cook asked last week: Why do we feed our children like pigs? It’s only leading to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, and a host of neurological spectrum disorders.

But on top of all that, there’s Ms. Stahl’s assumption that it’s somehow more expensive to grow and cook your own food than it is to buy pre-packaged convenience foods and fast foods which are the product of industrialized agriculture.

Why do people keep thinking this way?

I feed a family of four nothing but wholesome, nutrient-dense Real Food on less than $400/month. Granted, it’s not all ideal. I prioritize what I will and won’t spend money on. And, I’ve talked about that elsewhere. My main point here, though, is my amazement at just how brain washed the public is.

Do we honestly believe that it’s cheaper to eat out than to cook fresh meals at home?

Anyhow, I don’t mean to sound so negative. The piece is actually a really great introduction to a lot of the principles of Slow Food, and Alice Waters has a lot of good answers to Leslie Stahl’s “hard-hitting” questions.

All in all, it was a WIN.

And, as Alice said last month in an interview with Spiegel Online, “most of what we eat is not Real Food.”

I think the message may be starting to sink in.

Watch the video below and tell me what you think!

(photo by kthread)
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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.

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20 Responses to Real Food Goes Mainstream
  1. Local Nourishment
    March 16, 2009 | 1:25 pm

    I just wrote this morning about the true cost of a fast food meal our family recently ate. http://localnourishment.wordpress.com/2009/03/16/wait-you-spent-how-much-for-that-fast-food/

    I’ve been buying the “company line” for so long which insists I don’t have the time or money to prepare real, healthy foods that it’s taking me a while to untangle myself and rediscover the truth.

    The truth is, sure, prepared and fast food is easy, tasty (?) and fast. Right now. Because we don’t see the result (diabetes, depression, death) as immediately as we do the convenience, we are willing to mortgage our futures. We deserve better.

    One mom told me, “Yeah, sure, I could cook like that, but I’d rather spend time playing with my kids and enjoying them while they are young.” I held my tongue but inside I was wanting to ask why she couldn’t enjoy her children while they help her in the kitchen. Why is the priority NOW instead of training children in food preparation and a healthy diet that will last their whole lives and benefit them longer than ten minutes of hide-and-seek? Our kids deserve better, too.

    Local Nourishment

  2. KristenM
    March 16, 2009 | 2:02 pm

    Yeah, my kids love being in the kitchen with me. And I loved being in the kitchen with my mom. I think it’s a really valuable life skill to pass on — to girls AND boys. (I only have boys.)

  3. Spinner
    March 16, 2009 | 3:17 pm

    To me it’s all about priority setting. If it’s important to you, you will find the time and money to do it. All the things you are doing instead are all things that are more important than whatever you don’t have the time and money to do. And those things may actually be more important. I understand there are single moms out there working two jobs just so they can pay their bills. But I agree that many women do have the time and money, they just choose to use them in different ways. To each their own, I guess.

    I definitely look forward to working in the kitchen with my children! I love cooking/baking with my sister’s kids. They still talk about the time we made individual homemade pizzas over a year ago. the cute little munchkins.

    Spinner

  4. Noelle
    March 16, 2009 | 4:49 pm

    It’s all about priorities. Baking bread requires not a lot of hands on time, but it does require me to be present. The same with making yogurt. And we can a TON of our tomato products in the fall. It is a full weekend, but we have the benefit of sauces and stewed tomatoes for the next year.

    It has become a lifestyle for us. My kids understand it now too. They believe their dad and I can make ANYTHING they would ever want to eat.

    With limited financial resources, time is the thing that I really can choose how to spend the most wisely. For us that means cooking and baking from scratch. Using the cultured milk products from the best pasteurized milk we can afford because raw milk is too expensive. Our produce comes almost exclusively from our CSA. I could go on and on…I believe in it just like you!

    Noelle

  5. Ed Bruske
    March 16, 2009 | 4:55 pm

    You can’t really blame Leslie Stahl. She was just representing the average Joe, who probably has a hard time understanding what Alice Waters is getting at. Even food bloggers, who should know better, have been bashing her as “elitist.” Turns out what she’s proposing is no different than the way the kids in France eat at school every day. (Is it safe to mention France yet?)

    Ed Bruske

  6. KristenM
    March 16, 2009 | 6:00 pm

    Spinner — I agree. A while back I read an interesting study done on the length of time people spent in the kitchen cooking real food vs. people cooking from convenience foods. The truth was, dinner took the same amount of time to get ready (generally about a half hour to an hour max), regardless of which way people cooked. The difference was in the prep time. Convenience cookers had roughly 5 or 10 extra minutes of time NOT spent chopping fresh veggies or making sauces.

    I’d rather spend that 5 or 10 extra minutes and ensure my family’s eating Real Food instead of junk.

    Noelle — That’s awesome! We’re still hoping to put in a garden this year. If we are, we better get busy! This weekend is the first planting weekend for the Spring season, and I don’t even have a vegetable bed dug yet.

    Ed — Ah, I wasn’t totally knocking Leslie Stahl. I didn’t mind her doing her journalistic duty and asking the “tough questions.” It just bothered me that she’d present an “argument” and then not let us hear Alice Waters’ full response. Like in that segment where Leslie asked Alice whether or not eating this way was a “luxury.” Alice started by responding, “Well, it is a luxury….” But then Leslie’s editing cut off her response, which would have probably been something like “Well, it’s a luxury, but it shouldn’t be. This should be the way everyone prioritizes food because it has so much to do with building up and sustaining our health, our wellness, our families, and our communities.” You get the idea. Anyhow, taken on the whole, I think it was a good interview and a great segment. Too bad not very many people watch 60 Minutes any more….

  7. Bryan - oz4caster
    March 16, 2009 | 6:25 pm

    It’s great to see real food getting national exposure in the media. Every little bit helps to counter the advertising barrage for fake foods, but we have a long way to go. We need a ground swell of public support for our small farmers to prevent state and federal legislation from forcing them out of business with ridiculous regulations in the name of “food safety”. We are up against very large and powerful businesses with huge political influence pushing to ruin the source of our real food.

    Contact your state and federal legislators and let them know you want them to support small local farms by exempting them from costly and unnecessary rules that will force them out of business.

    One of our weapons is our purchases. Buy local, organic, pastured, and sustainable food! We vote with our dollars. Don’t buy highly processed fake foods from factory farms!

    What could be more important than our health and the health of our families?

    Bryan – oz4caster

  8. CHEESESLAVE
    March 16, 2009 | 8:13 pm

    I will admit, when I went to Tuscany a few years ago (this was back when I still ate Cheetos), I was shocked when the owner of the B&B we stayed at did not use a microwave. I think using a microwave is something that is ingrained in America.

    I haven’t used my microwave in over a year now and I don’t miss it. I actually don’t need it anymore because all of the food I cook is real food that is meant to be cooked on the stove or in the oven. Yes, I occasionally warm up leftovers, but it’s easy to do in saucepan or in my toaster oven.

    CHEESESLAVE

  9. Michelle
    March 16, 2009 | 9:43 pm

    It’s funny. It’s all so simple, to eat real food. But it’s so RADICAL. People just cannot wrap their heads around it without some help.

    Michelle

  10. Kathy
    March 17, 2009 | 7:43 am

    My husband and I are fairly new to these concepts of real, slow food– and I grew up in a home where my mom cooked a lot. But we had a microwave, and my mom worked, so gradually more convenience foods found their way to our table. So by the time I was on my own, I was definitely a convenience food person.

    I’m so excited, now that we’re getting a little older and can see the need for better health now (in order to enjoy better health later)– that it’s NOT a mysterious, unattainable goal. I have much to learn, but there are so many informative and helpful sources online, as well as locally, that I’m encouraged to keep at it. Common sense says that investing time and money in our health NOW will make it more likely that we won’t have to invest so much agony and regret later.

    Makes sense to me!

    PS– thanks for the Alice Walker video. Very inspiring and motivating! Even though it may have been biased coverage, at least the message was in people’s living rooms for a few minutes.

  11. Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet
    March 17, 2009 | 12:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing this video. She is such a neat lady.

    Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet

  12. Marc Feel Good Eating
    March 17, 2009 | 12:58 pm

    What better time is there at night to listen to your children, to talk with your children while you’re all getting ready for dinner?
    One of my daughters was with me last night (the other kids were with mom) and we love that time in the kitchen together. She’s 12, some might be diffeent when she’s 16 ;-)
    I just don’t agree that it takes long at all to make whole real food.
    Here was dinner.
    In butter, sauteed some onion and garlic. Added thin diced zucchini and a few cherry tomatoes. Heated up some left over grilled chicken thighs (in a pan) and we had some chicken borth/soup with it. How’s that for easy?
    I did not like the underlying tone of Ms. Stahl. And I usually like her…..

    Marc Feel Good Eating

  13. Anna
    March 17, 2009 | 1:37 pm

    Bravo to you for sharing this video (I hardly ever watch network TV so was unaware of it). Good news about real food needs to be shared, over and over.

  14. KristenM
    March 17, 2009 | 2:16 pm

    Bryan — Yes, with all the new “food safety” legislation being proposed, it is REALLY important to contact your representatives to let them know how you feel.

    Anne Marie — We’re about to buy a toaster oven. Our very first in over 10 years of marriage. We’ve been reheating leftovers on the stove or in our big oven, so this will hopefully help us save energy while being more convenient!

    Michelle — That’s what we’re here for, right?

    Kathy — I’m glad to be inspiring! We really are all in this together.

    Marc — My kids are still quite young, so I can understand why parents want kids out of the kitchen. It takes a lot of patience to find things for them to do that are at their skill level, and to try to prevent disasters. But it’s SOOO worth it!

    Anna — I agree. You can’t get enough of it!

  15. lo
    March 17, 2009 | 2:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing this video. Like Anna, I might not have seen it otherwise. I think this deserves additional press — so rest assured I’ll be linking it up and spreading the news myself.

    I have to laugh at people who can’t imagine not having a microwave… we did it for years and years. The one we have now I used to melt chocolate. Period.

    lo

  16. Meg
    March 17, 2009 | 3:01 pm

    Thank you for sharing this video! We don’t have television anymore, so I had heard nothing about it. I’ve been such a fan of Alice Waters for the longest time – she’s such a kind, generous woman, and incredibly inspiring.

    Oh, and our microwave is used for heating hotpacks and THAT’S IT… I’m still so surprised when I see people actually using it to cook with! (“Wait, do you know what that does to your food? Wait, it wasn’t really ‘food’ anyway. Go ahead.”) I’m so glad I was raising knowing what good food tastes like, and that I can now pass that blessing on to our kids!

    Meg

  17. KAthy
    March 17, 2009 | 9:49 pm

    I have to say that I have always love real food. I cooked mostly from scratch for my family when they were growing up. I was not saavy to soaking and fermenting, I did use vegetable oils in the skillet but it was because it was in the 80′s and 90′s and I simply didn’t know any better( and I believed all the hype). I have been converting my kitchen for several months now and eating 95% in the Nourishing Traditions style. I am an RN. I have been AMAZED at the measurable difference in how I feel. I feel wonderful, I feel lighthearted and I love the food. I have to plan a little more and I take all of my meals with me to work( 9am-9pm) and I laugh at the younger ones who love to gather around to see what I have to eat . They act like only a factory can make yogurt. I haven’t told them I make some of my pasta and I smell up the breakroom with my homemade Kimchi. I am happy that I was introduced to this way of eating. It makes so much sense and it is really easy once you get started. I really respect all of you with young children and jobs that are doing this. Your kids will always have those “good eating” memories.

  18. KristenM
    March 18, 2009 | 12:38 am

    Meg — We don’t have a TV either, but we do use the internet to download shows or watch spots like this one.

    KAthy — Well, I hope my kids have pleasant memories of eating this way!! I think it’s far easier to start them off eating well when they’re young than to try to convert a teenager. Thankfully, mine ARE young.

    KristenM

  19. Gail
    March 18, 2009 | 2:03 pm

    This is how my grandmothers and mother cooked. They raised their own vegetables, fruits, and meat. While I don’t go all organic, slow food is not difficult to prepare. My kids were cooking entire meals “from scratch” by age 10. The time spent together in the kitchen is priceless.

    We buy organic, raw milk to drink and make yogurt. Homemade whole grain bread is not difficult if you use a stand mixer to knead the dough.

    Once, I bought canned biscuits, just so the kids could pop open the can. They were disappointed in the taste. We rarely use boxed mac and cheese. The kids can all make a white sauce and flavor it.

  20. Sustainable Eats
    March 22, 2009 | 11:16 pm

    I love that healthy eating is now radical. Tomorrow I’m donning a black beret in the kitchen. Those same people who find preparing real food a waste of time probably spend 2-3 hours a day in front of the television (when they could be prepping for the following day’s meals.)

    I am new to NT style eating as well but a whole hearted convert – license to eat butter and coconut oil? You had me at hello!

    Sustainable Eats

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.