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 way."

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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