It's become fashionable among foodies of a certain stripe to bash Chez Panisse — to say the food there is boring or dated or whatever. But regardless of what you think of that venerable Berkeley institution, there's no disputing that, on the whole, Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters' "food revolution" is still picking up steam, extending its reach far beyond the Bay Area restaurant scene. And among all of Waters' cultural contributions, perhaps none is more important than the Edible Schoolyard, the groundbreaking school garden and kitchen program based at Berkeley's Martin Luther King Middle School. As this country faces a childhood obesity epidemic of devastating proportions, the core of the idea behind Edible Schoolyard is simple: Even kids raised on Big Macs and processed chicken products will happily eat a healthy home-cooked meal if they planted and picked the carrots and the peas themselves — if they did the chopping and the dicing, if they stirred the pot, if they sprinkled on the spice.
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