Let me set the record staright: Alice Waters, for all the good she has done, is not the Messiah of the local food movement.What she is, however, is one of the most nebulous of beasts, the food celebrity. A food celebrity with a fundamental zeal for a specific food philosophy, but a she is a food celebrity nonetheless.
Perhaps we’re at the point in this paradigm shift surrounding food that some feel the need to beatify the acolytes, but let’s focus on the celebrity aspect for the moment. As Eat Me Daily has pointed out, Ms. Waters is not without her flaws:
We’re not here to dispute Waters’ historical importance or influence, but if she is in fact the “focal point” of the supposed “revolution,” with her incredible access to apparently very pliable old media, it’s our responsibility to acknowledge her ability (and, as it happens, her habit) to utopianly and airily do a hell of a lot of harm. Often, in pursuit of doing good, she makes the movement look bad. Don’t tell us you don’t remember:
* That whole trash-talking about Cristeta Comerford (and later backtracking — the White House had been nearly entirely local and organic under Bush but was kept quiet) and that “Kitchen Cabinet” fiasco
* the White House Garden silliness with Alice trying to attach herself to Obama
* that fund-raising dinner in DC featuring “local” food that was flown in from across the country,
* or ostentatiously cooking an egg in her firepit on 60 Minutes while classicly declaring that the plebians are irresponsible with their spending: “Some people want to buy Nike shoes – two pairs, and other people want to eat Bronx grapes.”
These are all serious errors and miscalculations for a public person to engage in, and legitimately merit criticism.
And let’s not forget her recent dealings with gated community of Ameya Preserve.
Much like most other people involved in the food industry, Alice Waters likes to make a few bucks, an activity that seems to put a little tarnish upon her sainted crown.
I personally don’t begrudge her for this – after all, making a living is what we all do to some extent. But let’s not paint her larger than life. When it comes to food, we need to think for ourselves, and not let the food celebrities do the work for us.