Chez Panisse Foundation

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WARNING! Sewage sludge is toxic. Food should not be grown in "biosolids." Join the Food Rights Network.

The Chez Panisse Foundation was founded by celebrity chef and natural foods advocate Alice Waters. According to its website it "envisions a public school curriculum that includes hands-on experiences in school kitchens, gardens, and lunchrooms, and that provides healthy, freshly prepared meals as part of each school day. ... Over the past ten years, we have worked to establish groundbreaking models in the Berkeley Unified School District: the Edible Schoolyard and the School Lunch Initiative. [1] According to Alice Waters' biographer Thomas McNamee, Chez Panisse "is a standard-bearer for a system of moral values. It is the leader of a style of cooking, of a social movement, and of a comprehensive philosophy of doing good and living well." [2] In March, 2010, Alice Waters and Chez Panisse Foundation declined to oppose growing food in toxic sewage sludge. [3]

Photo by San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

Sewage Industry Gives an 'Award' to Alice Waters and Chez Panisse Foundation

The major sewage sludge industry front group, US Composting Council, gave Alice Waters and her Chez Panisse Foundation an 'award' in January, 2011. "The H. Clark Gregory Award to Promote Grassroots Efforts in Composting" was awarded to Alice Waters, Chez Panisse Foundation and their Edible Schoolyard program which promotes children growing food from their own gardens. The award is given each year to an individual who has displayed outstanding service." [4] The USCC also sponsors International Compost Awareness Week to promote sewage sludge "compost," and works closely with its members BioCycle magazine, Synagro, Water Environment Federation and other lobbyists for growing food in sewage sludge.

Chez Sludge

The Food Rights Network released a major investigative report on July 9, 2010 titled: Chez Sludge: How the Sewage Sludge Industry Bedded Alice Waters. [5] It examines collusion between the Chez Panisse Foundation and the SFPUC based on an extensive open records investigation of the SFPUC internal files. (To view the internal documents see: SFPUC Sludge Controversy Timeline.)

Foundation Mired in 'Sewage Sludge on Gardens'

In 2009 and 2010 a major controversy erupted in San Francisco involving Chez Panisse Foundation Executive Director Francesca Vietor when the Center for Food Safety (upon whose Advisory Board sits Alice Waters) and the Organic Consumers Association called on the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, of which Vietor is Vice President, to end its give-away of toxic sewage sludge as 'organic compost' for gardeners. [6][7] [8][9] [10] In advance of the OCA's March 4 sludge protest at City Hall, the SFPUC temporarily halted the give-away. [11]

The misleading labeled "organic compost," which the PUC has given away free to gardeners since 2007, is composed of toxic sewage sludge from San Francisco and eight other counties. Very little toxicity testing has been done, but what little has been done is alarming. Just the sludge from San Francisco alone has tested positive for 1,2-Dibromo-3-Chloropropane (a.k.a. DBCP), Isopropyltoluene (a.k.a. p-cymene or p-isopropyltoluene), Dioxins and Furans. [12]

The Organic Consumers Association conducted a noon hour picket of Chez Panisse April 1, 2010, after Alice Waters refused a request to oppose growing food in sewage sludge. [13] The industry front group ACSH is now making Alice Waters a poster-child for toxic sewage sludge.[14] [15]

Chez Panisse Seeks to Grow Its Investment Account

In June, 2010, the Chez Panisse Foundation advertised for a Development Director to work "closely with CPF Board, staff, and Alice Waters to design and implement an effective fundraising campaign each year -- to meet not only the annual operating budget of approximately $1.2 million, but to continue to grow CPF’s investment account to support CPF going forward." [16]

Chez Panisse Foundation Tax Filings, Annual Reports

Administrative Staff

The Edible Schoolyard Staff

Board of Directors

  • Katrina Heron "is a writer, editor, and independent book-packager. She has been Editor-in-Chief of Wired magazine, and a senior editor at the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and the New York Times Magazine." Katrin Heron Muckety map
  • Christina Kim "is the founder and owner of dosa, a fashion house in Los Angeles, California, where artisanal textiles are recycled into sophisticated, contemporary clothing and housewares."
  • John Lyons is the President of Production at Focus Features, and an advocate for Edible Schoolyard programs in New York City.
Advisory Board
Michael Ableman Mikhail Baryshnikov Wendell Berry
Kelly Brownell Peter Buckley Susie Tompkins Buell[17]
Nancy Rutter Clark Billy Collins Eleanor Coppola
Troy Duster Delaine Eastin Stanlee Gatti
Angelo Garro Adam Gopnik Carole Shorenstein Hays
Wes Jackson Bob Kerrey Jonathan Kozol
Frances Moore Lappé Phillip Lopate David Mas Masumoto[18]
Frances McDormand Nan McEvoy [[Bette Midler]][19]
Margrit Mondavi Davia Nelson Marion Nestle
Nell Newman Jamie Oliver Michael Pollan
Robert Redford[20] Ruth Reichl Boz Scaggs
Orville Schell Eric Schlosser Gus Schumacher
Peter Sellars Anna Deavere Smith Meryl Streep[21]
Michael Tilson Thomas Calvin Trillin Jacqui West

Articles and resources

2001 - 2008



February-March, 2010

April, 2010

May, 2010

Muckety Site Showing Relationships for Chez Panisse

The Muckety Map below shows the network of individuals related to the Chez Panisse Foundation. [22]

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. Website accessed March, 2010
  2. Laurie Bennett, Alice Waters, food fighter, Muckety website, January 21, 2008.
  3. OCA, Alice Waters, Exchange on Toxic Sewage Sludge, March, 2010
  4. USCC Website Accessed 4/17/11
  5. John Stauber, Chez Sludge: How the Sewage Sludge Industry Bedded Alice Waters,, July 9, 2010
  6. Catherine Bigelow, And across the bay, Francesca Vietor is the new executive director of the Chez Panisse Foundation, Social City, SFGate February 7, 2010.
  7. Heather Knight, Nonprofit calls PUC's compost toxic sludge, San Francisco Chronicle, September 27, 2009.
  8. Barry Estabrook, Sludge Fest: Center for Food Safety vs. San Francisco. It’s a battle that may be coming soon to a city near you, Politics of the Plate, November 30, 2009
  9. Barry Estabrook, Free Compost--Or Toxic Sludge?, The Atlantic, December 1, 2009.
  10. Jill Richardson, Food Sunday: Toxic Sludge as 'Organic Fertilizer', FireDogLake, March 7, 2010.
  11. Chris Roberts, News Farmers Call PUC's Shit, Will Dump it on City Hall Today, San Francisco Appeal, March 4, 2010.
  12. Jill Richardson, What San Francisco Found in Their Own Sludge, La Vida Locavore blog, April 8, 2010.
  13. Leora Broydo Vestel, Food Groups Clash Over Compost Sludge, New York Times Green Inc. blog, April 9 2010.
  14. Jill Richardson, Oh Alice, Don't Let Them Do This To You, Lavidalocavore blog, Apr 12, 2010
  15. Barry Estabrook, Alice Finds Herself in Troubled Waters, Politics of the Plate, April 26, 2010.
  16. [ Chez Panisse Website, Accessed June, 2010
  17. [ Susie Tompkins-Buell Muckety Map]
  18. [ David Mas Masumoto Muckety Map]
  19. [ Bette Midler Muckety Map]
  20. Robert Redford Muckety Map
  21. Meryl Streep Muckety Map
  22. Muckety Map Accessed July 4, 2010.
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