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Is there dirt on school gardens?

(article, Culinate staff)

At the Atlantic, some applaud the school-garden movement kickstarted by Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Foundation and supported by Slow Food and many others. In fact, senior editor Corby Kummer himself is an active supporter.

Atlantic contributor Caitlin Flanagan, however, is a naysayer — and how. In this month's magazine, Flanagan offers a harsh critique of efforts to expand gardens to more schools:

bq. With these gardens — and their implication that one of the few important things we as a culture have to teach the next generation is what and how to eat — we’re mocking one of our most ennobling American ideals. Our children don’t get an education because they’re lucky, or because we’ve generously decided to give them one as a special gift. Our children get an education — or should get an education — because they have a right to one. At the very least, shouldn’t we ensure that the person who makes her mark on the curricula we teach be someone other than an extremely talented cook with a highly political agenda?

Several irate responses are popping up to Flanagan's piece, including one on Civil Eats by chef and writer Kurt Michael Friese, another by urban farmer Ed Bruske on his blog, The Slow Cook, and a third by [/articles/sift/schoollunchnews "Ann Cooper,"] the well-known school-lunch reformer, who writes,

bq. If we want our children to embrace healthy food, if we want them to think veggies, fruits, and whole grains are as cool as hot Cheetos, gummy bears, soda, and fast food, then we need to engage them in the process, and in my estimation the most successful way of doing that is through cooking and gardening classes.

Finally, Kim Severson, the New York Times writer who's covered school gardens in that paper, tweeted what many who see the piece may be feeling:

"Yowser! School gardens under attack as evil? But there is so much real evil out there . . ."