Caitlin Flanagan’s editorial tirade against Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard program in the pages of Atlantic has given rise to backlash pretty much everywhere, even on the magazine’s own website. Food editor Corby Kummer comes to Waters’ defense with a nearly item-by-item takedown on Flanagan’s argument.
Other defensive corrections: Alice Waters (who Kummer says called him “about ten minutes after [Flanagan’s] piece appeared online”) was a trained Montessori teacher for five years and based the Edible Schoolyard program on some of their principles; there’s a material difference between parents buying vegetables for kids and kids growing vegetables themselves; and virtually no Edible Schoolyard school relies on public funds for its gardens, instead using money from private donations and grants.
Still, there’s not much to be said in response to Flanagan’s most resonant criticism: that the Edible Schoolyard program doesn’t raise test scores. The organization can’t refute it, since such quantitative measures “have never been a focus” of the group, but Kummer thinks that the qualitative benefits to students’ lives are obvious: “If Flanagan was focused on children’s diets and the effect that being well-nourished has on school performance,” Kummer notes, “she would lambaste herself with the relish she reserves for Waters.”