Cover Image: We Are What We Eat

We Are What We Eat

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Member Reviews

We Are What We Eat is what it states, a manifesto. Alice Waters has a long history in the slow food movement, but for those who have yet to meet her, this is a good synopsis of her views on how we can improve our physical and mental health by being more intentional about what and how we eat.

The traits of what Waters calls fast food culture, convenience, uniformity, availability, trust in advertising, cheapness, more is better, and speed, are antithetical to healthy bodies and the habits of mind that serve us well. Instead, Slow food culture embraces the principles of beauty, biodiversity, seasonality, stewardship, pleasure in work, simplicity, and interconnectedness. This is a sort of distillation of her work through her restaurant Chez Panisse, her involvement in the Slow Food Movement, and the Edible Schoolyard project she started, aimed at helping students, particularly those in low income communities, learn more about growing healthy foods that can be served in their lunchroom.

This quick read is a good introduction to Waters and her philosophy, including how that informed her creation of Chez Panisse. I'd heard of the restaurant, but this was the first piece that inspired me to Google photos and reviews of it.

While some have accused Waters of writing from a place of privilege here, as she describes driving long distances to procure artisanal ingredients, she is a chef with a high-end restaurant, and I suspect that practice is not uncommon. That is literally part of her job. She's sensitive to the structural reasons why fast food culture has taken hold here in the US - corporate interests that promote cheap foods that end up costing our society billions of dollars in medical care. She acknowledges the problems of food deserts and the need to do better by those with few food dollars to spend.

I enjoyed both the writing and ideas expressed in We Are What We Eat. I will likely purchase it for my library.

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You can't go wrong with Alice Waters. Ever. Her words are quietly thought provoking without being too preachy or heavy handed. Waters continues to educate about the true cost of "cheap" food and celebrates the importance of our local farmers.

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"We Are What We Eat" is a manifesto for locally grown, ethically sourced, homemade meals. It's an excellent examination of how fast food culture has ingrained itself in so many aspects of our society and changed the way we interact with food.

I wish the book did more to address the financial issues that prevent so many from eating this way. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to choose what they eat.

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"When we homogenize society, we forget to treat people as individuals with different traits and needs." Alice Waters' life's work is elegantly offered in bountiful wisdom and portioned into chapters that are very much like the plates at Chez Panisse, Water's Berkley restaurant - Carefully constructed, portioned, and consciously sourced. Waters contemplates America's eating habits from ethical farming to fast food eating and her unwavering focus on sustainable food practices reinforces her legendary food philosophy. From building relationships with farmers to pointing out America's blind trust in advertising, We Are What We Eat is a necessary reminder that we all have within us the capacity to change. With interconnectedness at the forefront of Waters' argument for slow food, she gracefully offers ways to do better. To eat seasonally. To avoid excess. To consider the implications of your actions.

There is so much about food and the environment in this book, but at its core is an unwavering appreciation for the origins of food, the process of creation, and the joy of sharing. There is no better advice on how to live life right. As a culmination of her life's work, this is a reminder of how Alice Waters became a legend. It is her superhero origin story with a checklist to help others unleash their own superpowers.

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A thought-provoking book from one of the most admired people in the restaurant and food world. Alice Waters, in simple layman's language, points out how the way we grow, distribute, cook and eat food is contributing to so many problems (climate change, for one example). She is so passionate about her subject, and so knowledgeable, that what could be dry and boring is, instead, fascinating. An insider's look that I'm sure many of our library readers will enjoy.

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