Twenty years ago Carlo Petrini, founded Slow Food in an effort to resist McDonalds efforts to erect the Golden Arches in one of the most historical areas of Rome. Since then Petrini's work has spawned an international movement aimed at overhauling global food systems that he says are unhealthy and way out of balance. Petrini gave an impassioned lecture at U.C. Berkeley Tuesday night. While he spoke in vivid Italian, food writer Corby Kummer interpreted. Petrini seemed the perfect choice to inagurate the first class of Edible Education 101: The Rise and the Future of the Food Movement. The course is being co-taught by J-school professor, and author, Michael Pollan and Executive Director of People's Grocery in West Oakland, Nikki Henderson. The premise of the class is that food is political. Students and members of the public are given a chance to explore pressing issues such as food access, distribution and nutrition.
Student enrollment for the 13-week course filled up within minutes. The popular classes are also being offered to the public, free of charge and Bon Appétit Management Co. (BAMCO) is sponsoring the webcast on YouTube. In the audience Tuesday night were freshman Bridget Smith and Sarah Branoff. They said they are taking the course because, as undergrads, they don't usually get a chance to take a journalism class at Berkeley. They both like food and baking and have never even heard of Alice Waters. Waters' Chez Panisse Foundation is helping fund the class. David Park is a Venture Capitalist from Foster City. Park, who puts together health and wellness portfolios, says he is always on the lookout for who to hire and who to fund in the food and nutrition arena. Claudia Weisburd, another member of the public, is interested in how the course promises to integrate environmentalists, social justice activists and foodies.