Alice Waters, long-time champion of food as a tool for building community, has done something quite un-Alice Water-like: sold her name to promote a high-dollar
gated development "community" in Montana.
Over on Ethicurean, there’s a great post by the novelist Charlotte McQuinn Freeman, who lives in Livingston, Montana — near the site of the quote-unquote "Ameya Preserve," the kind of high-end, "green" gated "community" that makes my blood boil.
In my area of western North Carolina, gated communities often cheekily take the names of the farms they have replaced. Driving around, you’ll see an elaborate sign above a rustic gate proclaiming so-and-so "Farm" — and peer up the road to see "no trespassing" signs and McMansions tarted up to look like log cabins or farmhouses. "Farm" in this context signifies not farm but the end of farming. I guess in Montana, the word "preserve" serves the same function.
There’s an argument that occasionally emerges on Gristmill that goes like this: If rich folks are going to lay claim to huge tracts of land, gate them off, and plunk down massive houses on them, shouldn’t they be encouraged to do so greenly? I say, the hell with ’em. I have no time to congratulate major polluters for their marginal improvements.
At the Ameya Preserve, they’re peddling "pre-designed" houses that range from 2900 to 4400 square feet as well as 10-15 acre "estate lots" that promise "utmost privacy, premier views, and convenient access to all community amenities.
Check out Charlotte’s post to get the goods on Waters’ involvement in this thing. Bonnie Powell of Ethicurean is trying to reach Waters for comment; stay tuned.
For me, Waters has always represented commitment to food as a way to build community: between farmers and urbanites, within families and social circles, within localities. Here, "sustainable" food is being used as a tool to move literally exclusive real estate.
Just as "farms" sprouting McMansions signal the end of farming, gated "communities" mark the evisceration of real community. I’d love to see Alice Waters, a genuine hero of the movement to create a just and sustainable food system, renounce this project.