FLOTUS, also known as First Lady Michelle Obama, is scheduled to have breakfast at a political fundraiser tomorrow in Berkeley, where slow food legend Alice Waters and friends will whip up something seasonal, sustainable, local, organic, and, let’s hope, delicious — since supporters are forking out $1,000-$25,000 a piece to break bread (an Acme garlic loaf, the first from the Edible Schoolyard no less) with the Commander-in-Chief’s wife.
Waters is a fan of Obama’s efforts to get folks to eat well and move more. “Her dedication to children’s healthy eating has been an inspiration to all of us here at Chez Panisse,” said an email from Alice herself. “The menu will be a celebration of these ideals, featuring organic ingredients from local farmers and purveyors around the Bay Area.” Obama, of course, values Waters’ impressive work to improve school lunch around the country and champion school cooking and gardening programs through her Chez Panisse Foundation.
The woman who recently unveiled the fed’s new food icon My Plate and strives to combat childhood obesity through her Let’s Move campaign is in the Bay Area to raise money for hubbie’s 2012 re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The event will be held at the toney Claremont Hotel, Club, and Spa on the Berkeley-Oakland border, a local landmark, known for its regal white facade, killer views, and expensive club membership.
The hotel has been spiffing itself up in anticipation of Obama’s visit, wrote Berkeleyside, which noted the recent appearance of two raised planting beds near one Claremont entrance. The post prompted one resident to write: “Will the Claremont also be hiring cute, chubby children to conspicuously exercise in areas Michelle Obama might pass through?”
Lettuce Eat Kale swung by the hotel yesterday and can report that one bed boasts new tomato plants, another starters, including radish, carrot, and parsley. But who among us hasn’t tidied up a bit before important guests come over? And when I interviewed executive chef Josh Thomsen a few months ago he mentioned plans for a veggie patch in close proximity to the hotel’s fine-dining Meritage restaurant. Fair enough.
No doubt the hotel is a flurry of activity today, as an army of folks clean and polish in anticipation of the event. There’s something else they might want to pay attention to. The wording on the sign outside the hotel, which doesn’t, ah, seem in keeping with the First Lady’s or Water’s message of (mostly) eating home-cooked meals made from scratch:
And, while we’re on the subject of staying on message: What happened to plans for another fundraising breakfast event the same morning at the Golden State Warriors’ practice center in downtown Oakland? Both breakfast events, keep in mind, are being hosted by Oakland politicians Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Mayor Jean Quan.
The basketball facility is in the heart of a city where food deserts and hunger are a significant problem, and children struggle with alarming rates of early-onset diabetes and other dietary health problems. And Oakland doesn’t have an Alice Waters in the schools or Berkeley’s enviable cooking and garden program. School food advocates there face an uphill battle to bring quality fresh food to children.
Maybe the event got cancelled due to logistical or security reasons. Regardless, local residents, like James Berk, the young owner-member of the Mandela Foods Cooperative, might have welcomed knowing that Michelle was in town, fighting the good food fight on their behalf, let alone being offered a place at the table.
Over in Berkeley most folks will likely grumble about traffic delays due to her security detail. And club members at the Claremont? They’ll probably just want to make sure they get their early morning swim, tennis game, or gym workout in before the First Lady swoops in for, perhaps, free-range eggs with artisan goat cheese and freshly foraged greens.
You might also enjoy:
The First Lady of Food
Fed Up With School Lunch: The Fed’s Join the Fray
White House Farmers’ Market: An Idea Whose Time Has Come?
What’s Cooking in the First Family’s Kitchen?
Alice Waters’ 40 Year Campaign for Good Food
New School Food Study: Victory for Alice Waters
Cultivating Controversy: In Defense of an Edible Education
Surgeon General Swings by Edible Schoolyard
Josh Thomsen Gathers Local Talent for Berkeley Wine Festival
Oakland’s Farm Fresh Approach to School Food
James Berk of Mandela Foods Brings Produce to His People