A small group of picketers from the Organic Consumers Association took up position directly in front of Chez Panisse at lunchtime today, in an attempt to raise awareness of what it terms “toxic sewage sludge”.

This followed remarks made by the OCA criticizing Chez Panisse owner Alice Waters, and Francesca Vietor, the executive director of the Chez Panisse Foundation and a Commissioner on the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission over what it called their “hypocrisy” over the sewage sludge issue.

Two demonstrators dressed in beige all-in-ones held up a sign that read “Happy Birthday Chez Panisse Cafe. Please Alice, No Toxic Sludge”.  No garden associated with Alice Waters uses compost made with sewage sludge. OCA spokesperson John Mayer who was part of the demonstration admitted the sign was “provocative” and could be interpreted to mean Alice Waters or the Chez Panisse Cafe used toxic sludge.

Shortly before the protesters, arrived the Chez Panisse Foundation had issued a statement calling on the OCA to “retract their false statements” and issue a public apology.

Asked if the OCA intended to apologize,  Mayer  said: “Apologize for what?” “The [Chez Panisse] Foundation is in a perfect situation to speak on organic farming methods and we ask that it condemns the use of sewage sludge for any farming.”

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...