Get Out to Eat In

Slow Food lobbies Congress with massive potlucks.

Although it may have little meaning for anyone born after 1967, the
term “human be-in” caused a huge scandal at its genesis. Historically,
it refers to the afternoon of January 14, 1967, when 20,000 to 30,000
hippies gathered in Golden Gate Park to drop acid together —
specifically, huge amounts of White Lighting LSD from underground
manufacturer Owsley Stanley. Since that day, humans have found more
productive ways of being in. We’ve laughed-in, bedded-in, worked-in,
taught-in, died-in, and now, thanks to organizers at Slow Food USA,
we’re eating in. Since September 2008, Slow Food has launched more than
250 community potlucks around the country to encourage people to get
together and share home-cooked meals. The one that happened June 13 in
Tilden Park included a huge roast pig. One hundred thirty people came
to help eat it, each bringing their own side dish. Judging from the
photographs, it was one of the biggest summer feasts that Berkeley has
seen in a while: Huge slabs of pink, oily meat; paper bags full of
strawberries; brownies with walnuts and chocolate chips; shrimp pasta;
leafy green vegetables; water crackers with brie; whole lemons; and
crisp baguettes with olive oil.

On Labor Day, Slow Food will host a spate of Eat-Ins throughout the
country, with a stronger political charge than usual. The impetus? A
full-throttle campaign to revise the Child Nutrition Act, which
provides lunch to more than thirty million children each day. Congress
will reauthorize the 1966 law this fall, and Slow Food proponents say
that want dramatic changes — including an additional dollar (or
more) invested per child per lunch. Right now, the schools recoup about
$2.57 per lunch, and only $1 goes to ingredients, said spokesperson
Anna Smith Clark. When compared to certain countries in Europe, she
adds, the United States looks miserly. Moreover, Slow Food asks that
schools expunge all junk food items from their cafeterias and vending
machines. Their hope, said Clark, is to curb child obesity and teach
healthy eating habits early on: “School lunches are how you learn about
eating, and we’re definitely not teaching children how to eat well,”
she explained. “They’re getting calories in, but not in a good

Congresswoman Barbara Lee will serve as main speaker for Berkeley’s
Labor Day Eat-In, to be held at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic
Center Park
(2151 Martin Luther King Jr. Wy.). Other guests include
Jacob Wright, program coordinator at the Center for Ecoliteracy,
Jessica Prentice of the organization Three Stone Hearth, and Leon Davis
of Hope Collaborative and the Ecology Center. Slow Food will set up
table seating for 300, but asks that everyone bring blankets just in
case. Admission is free; just bring a healthy dish and utensils. 11:30
a.m.-3 p.m.


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