Local legend, chef, Slow Food doyenne, and restaurateur Alice Waters is helping spearhead a petition drive to get Governor Jerry Brown to end the practice of fracking in California. Fracking has been used throughout the country to extract natural gas reserves, and it's currently being employed in Kern County and in the Long Beach and Los Angeles areas, often fracking around old oil wells to extract vestiges of oil from deep below ground.
The petition was inspired by a move last Friday by Brown to regulate rather than block more fracking in the state.
Though fracking proponents say there's no proof that fracking contaminates ground water, there's plenty of anecdotal evidence and more to suggest it does. The fight has drummed up a ton of attention from environmentalists, and inspired this 2012 film, Promised Land, made by and starring Matt Damon.
But a petroleum industry spokesman lashed back at Waters this week trying to suggest that chefs are getting on their high horse about the issue while still depending on gas stoves.
There is a certain irony here because these chefs, unless they are cooking with wood, coal or hydrogen, which I'm pretty sure they are not, are using a great deal of natural gas. This country is blessed with an abundance of natural gas, and prices are at record lows because of the technology of hydraulic fracturing.
Of course a lot of Bay Area chefs are cooking with wood, but this logic is flawed in many ways. Everyone would probably gladly pay more for natural gas in order to not have big swaths of farmland potentially destroyed by fracking.
Also on the petition so far are Chez Panisse chef Jerome Waag, Foreign Cinema co-chef John Clark, and others.