A small group of picketers from the Organic Consumers Association took up position directly in front of Chez Panisse at lunchtime today, in an attempt to raise awareness of what it terms “toxic sewage sludge”.

This followed remarks made by the OCA criticizing Chez Panisse owner Alice Waters, and Francesca Vietor, the executive director of the Chez Panisse Foundation and a Commissioner on the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission over what it called their “hypocrisy” over the sewage sludge issue.

Two demonstrators dressed in beige all-in-ones held up a sign that read “Happy Birthday Chez Panisse Cafe. Please Alice, No Toxic Sludge”.  No garden associated with Alice Waters uses compost made with sewage sludge. OCA spokesperson John Mayer who was part of the demonstration admitted the sign was “provocative” and could be interpreted to mean Alice Waters or the Chez Panisse Cafe used toxic sludge.

Shortly before the protesters, arrived the Chez Panisse Foundation had issued a statement calling on the OCA to “retract their false statements” and issue a public apology.

Asked if the OCA intended to apologize,  Mayer  said: “Apologize for what?” “The [Chez Panisse] Foundation is in a perfect situation to speak on organic farming methods and we ask that it condemns the use of sewage sludge for any farming.”

Tracey Taylor

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...

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  1. Interesting that in a place like Berkeley, where recycling is sacred, you see a protect like this against re-using our waste stream for compost.

  2. Seems the protesters are capitalizing on Alice’s good name to publicize their issue. They knew if they created this photo op, that the media outlets would pick it up and run it, despite the flawed connection. If neither Chez Panisse nor Alice, nor anything she’s associated with utilizes “toxic compost,” it seems quite a stretch to picket Chez Panisse. I think a letter informing her of the issue and asking for her support would have been more appropriate. Shame on any media that does not point this out.

  3. I think any time the acronym OAC appears, it was intended to have been OCA.

    ‘Round these parts, the OAC stands for the Oakland Airport Connector; and I don’t think most people take quite as kindly to the Airport Connector as they do to organic produce.