By Kerry Trueman
reblogged with permission from the author from Civil Eats
October 20th, 2011- Two miles north of Zuccotti Park, where Occupy Wall Street‘s encamped, there’s another would-be hotspot of cultural change occupying a more genteel locale: the James Beard Foundation (JBF). Seriously? This epicurean epicenter housed in an elegant West Village brownstone with eternally well-tended window boxes, wants to stir up something more culturally significant than mouth-watering meals curated by celebrity chefs?
Well, yes. And it’s a logical move, if they don’t want to see their legacy (or their democracy) go down the toilet. After all, as Mario Batali once pointed out on CBS Sunday Morning, “When you think about it, all my greatest work is poop, tomorrow.”Ah, but not all excrement is created equal. On the one hand, intensive pork production’s given us vast pools of lethally toxic pig poop known as manure lagoons, more akin to radioactive waste than organic manure. On the other hand, there are worm castings, the highly fertile poop extruded by earthworms that looks like coffee grounds and smells pleasantly earthy.
The respective hazards and merits of various manures has not, historically, been the province of the JBF. This highly influential culinary center, founded after the legendary chef and cookbook author James Beard’s death in 1985 at the age of 81, is better known for its awards honoring outstanding chefs, restaurateurs, and writers.
But with the current American diet in such a dire state, the JBF folks are not content to simply celebrate culinary and literary excellence. Eager to play a more proactive role in reshaping our food system, the JBF has come down squarely in favor of a future that features more worm castings and fewer manure lagoons.