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Alice Waters’s Open Letter to the Obamas

01.15.09
Last November, the acclaimed chef and author wrote a letter urging the first family to choose a White House chef who would prioritize health and environmentalism. The letter has ignited much controversy in the food world, but it hasn’t been published online until now. Read it below in its full, final form.

Dear President Elect and Michelle Obama,


Congratulations on your victory! It is with great pride and pleasure that I write to you, the President Elect of the United States of America.

For the last 40 years, I have been immersed in a grassroots food revolution that I believe will make a tremendous difference to the health, security, and values of all Americans. Local, affordable, nutritious food should be a right for everyone and not just a privilege for a few. At this moment in time, you have a unique opportunity to set the tone for how our nation should feed itself. The purity and wholesomeness of the Obama movement must be accompanied by a parallel effort in food at the most visible and symbolic place in America—The White House.

Knowing how quickly the most important decisions are made after the election, I would like to immediately offer my help and that of my colleagues and friends, Ruth Reichl and Danny Meyer, who were instrumental in the success of Margo Lion’s Food and Art Fundraiser in New York City. We would be honored to present ourselves as a small advisory group—a “Kitchen Cabinet” if you will—to help with your selection of a White House chef. A person with integrity and devotion to the ideals of environmentalism, health, and conservation would send a powerful message to our country: that food choices matter. Seasonal, ripe, delicious food grown in the United States would inspire your guests and nourish your family.

Of course, I cannot forget the vision I have had since 1993 of a beautiful vegetable garden on the White House lawn. It would demonstrate to the nation and to the world our priority of stewardship of the land—a true victory garden!

Thank you for your consideration. I would like to ask for a conversation with whomever you think could best advance this idea.

With great admiration and hope,

Alice Waters signature

Alice Waters

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