For all public school children in Berkeley, California, soon there won't be any mystery meat or other surprises when it comes to school lunch. The kids will have cooked the meal themselves or had a hand in growing the ingredients in an organic garden.
Just as she transformed the palates of their parents by popularizing seasonal, fresh, local organic produce, celebrated California chef Alice Waters is transforming how kids think about food by completely changing the meaning of school lunch. She calls it a "Delicious Revolution."
Waters' Chez Panisse Foundation recently signed an agreement with the Berkeley Unified School District to create a school lunch curriculum in which children will garden, cook and eat a healthy lunch as part of their educational experience.
This extraordinary move will affect some 9,000 students. The kitchen and the garden will be incorporated into all the core subjects. For example, math classes can measure the beds; science classes can study drainage and erosion; and English classes can write recipes.
"We're teaching another kind of relationship with food," Waters told a Time/ABC News obesity summit this summer.
"We can try to improve diets all we want by making school lunches more nutritious and getting the [soda] machines out of the hallways, but that only gets us partway there. We can't be sure that the kids are even eating, let alone understanding what nourishment is all about," she said.
"But when lunch is a class that every child must take, when they have to get involved themselves, for creditand when they follow food from the garden to the kitchen to the table, doing the work themselvessomething amazing happens. They want to taste everything!"
Nine years ago, Waters began developing an edible garden and kitchen classroom at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Middle School in Berkeley. The pilot project, called the Edible Schoolyard, has been a huge success.
Eventually, Waters would like to see her delicious revolution spread to schools nationwide.
"I know from experience that a lunch-centered curriculum can change lives," she says. "I believe we need a similar curriculum in every school district in the country, not just serving school lunch, but teaching it, as an academic subject."