A (Modified) Dinner with the President, March 19 & 20, 2004


American Flatbread + Flatbread Kitchen
Friday and Saturday, March 19 & 20, 2004
Tonight’s menu and baking are dedicated to:

A (Modified) Dinner with the President
GMO Study No. 1

First, a little story: There once was a very nice little man who had done many good things with his life. One day he received an invitation to dinner at the White House. “Please come to a banquet in the East Room to honor you, your friends and your colleagues for your contributions to humanity.” The little man smiled and looked forward to the happy event.

On the day of the dinner he went to the White House and was shown in to the great East Room. He was in awe of what he saw. Forty-six long tables and a head table where the President would sit. The little man was escorted to his seat and noticed the name cards immediately around. He could tell this was a great gathering indeed: he, like everyone else, would be sitting next to and across from good people of good minds- it was sure to be an enjoyable and interesting evening.

The White House above all else is a political place and as sometimes happens in politics it was important, at the lat minute, to include a guest because he had made a significant contribution to the President’s campaign, and as it turned out, he sat next to the little man, taking the place of an old friend (who the little man had not seen for a long time and who he was looking forward to speaking with.)

The guest were seated, the President took his place at the distant head table where all seemed well. But down at table no. 17 where the little man had been seated there was a kind of local chaos because the political guest turned out to be overbearing and obnoxious and dominated in an unpleasant way all conversations at his end of the table. All of this, of course, was far removed from the President. Dinner went on but it was not what it might have been for the little man and his colleagues.

The President left immediately after dessert, which was his usual way, and retired to his private quarters. His wife asked him how the banquet had gone. “It was wonderful. Everyone had a grand time.” And this was true as far as he knew.

When the little man came home his wife asked him the same question. “Well,” he replied, “parts were good, but it was not what it might have been.” After which he described what had happened.

We are like the President isolated in seeing only the most general conditions. The experience of the little man is like our genes: sensitive to the most subtle changes in their immediate environment. What does it mean to one of our genes to be seated next to foreign genes? What is it, because of our great and lofty and distant position, that we do not see? That we do not feel or hear or taste? What is it that we do not know?

What we do know is that our biologic world is enormously complex and although we have learned a great deal about how life systems work, our ignorance is like the submerged mass of an iceberg.

Food is fundamental to our health and well being. Food is important enough to be careful.

Thanks for coming tonight.

Love, George

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