Francesca Vietor

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WARNING! Sewage sludge is toxic. Food should not be grown in "biosolids." Join the Food Rights Network.

Francesca Vietor is a philanthropist and political activist who is currently President of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.[1] She previously served as the first director of the San Francisco Commission on the Environment (SFDOE) [2] [3] under Mayor Willie Brown. In 2008 Vietor was appointed by Mayor Gavin Newsom to a seat on the five person San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

In February, 2010 she was named the Executive Director of the Chez Panisse Foundation begun by celebrity chef and natural foods advocate Alice Waters in Berkeley, California. In the winter of 2010/2011 Francesca Vietor left her position at Chez Panisse Foundation, rose from Vice President to President of the SFPUC, and took a position on the Board of Directors of the Environmental Working Group. [4] In March, 2010, Alice Waters refused to publicly oppose growing food in toxic sludge, and instead issued a statement endorsing Francesca Vietor, statement vetted and approved by the SFPUC.

Photo by San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

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Chez Sludge

The Food Rights Network released a major investigative report on July 9, 2010 titled: Chez Sludge: How the Sewage Sludge Industry Bedded Alice Waters. [5] It examines the conflicts of interest and collusion between the Chez Panisse Foundation and the SFPUC based on an extensive open records investigation of the SFPUC internal files. (To view the internal documents see: SFPUC Sludge Controversy Timeline.)

Sewage Sludge to Gardens Controversy

In 2009 and 2010 a major controversy erupted in San Francisco involving Vietor in her role as Vice President of the SFPUC when the Center for Food Safety and the Organic Consumers Association called on the SFPUC to permanently stop its give-away of toxic sewage sludge as 'organic compost' for gardeners.[6] In advance of a March 4 sludge protest at City Hall by the Organic Consumers Association, the SFPUC temporarily halted the give-away. [7]

The misleading labeled "organic compost," which the PUC has given away free to gardeners since 2007, is composed of toxic sewage sludge from San Francisco and eight other counties. Very little toxicity testing has been done, but what little has been done is alarming. Just the sludge from San Francisco alone has tested positive for 1,2-Dibromo-3-Chloropropane (a.k.a. DBCP), Isopropyltoluene (a.k.a. p-cymene or p-isopropyltoluene), Dioxins and Furans. [8]

The Organic Consumers Association conducted a noon hour picket of Chez Panisse April 1, 2010, after Alice Waters refused a request to oppose growing food in sewage sludge. [9] The industry front group ACSH is now making Alice Waters a poster child for toxic sludge. [10] Francesca Vietor has formally threatened the UK Guardian for an article it published [11] that Vietor and Alice Waters do not like. Author and blogger Jill Richardson has analyzed the Guardian article and defended its accuracy.[12]


According to her official biography[13], she "is Vice President of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). She served as President of the City’s Commission on the Environment from 1997 to 1999 and as Director of the Department of the Environment from 1999 to 2001. In 2003, she co-founded 1000 Flowers, a non-partisan non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to registering and mobilizing women to vote across the country. She has worked for many nonprofit organizations, including Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace, Island Press, and CARE Madagascar. She currently runs an environmental consulting firm, Ecoworks, with current contracts at Commonweal, an environmental health nonprofit in Marin County, and the Green Schools Initiative, a Berkeley-based NGO bringing environmental practices to schools in the state. She serves on several boards, including Friends of the San Francisco Public Library (spearheading the greening of the library initiative), the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, Slide Ranch[14], and Bioneers. She is also pursuing a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts at the California College of the Arts while she raises her three-year-old daughter with her husband, writer Mark Hertsgaard." She is also on the CorpWatch advisory board.

In July, 2010, she started a blog.

Articles and resources

2000 - 2003




Related SourceWatch articles

Francesca Vietor on Social Networking Sites


  1. SFPUC wesbite, January, 2011
  2. Christina Couret, WATER SUPPLY/San Francisco attacks dioxin pollution, American City & County, October 1, 1999.
  3. SF Commission on the Environment Draft Minutes, May 17, 1999
  4. [ Chez Panisse Foundation Staff and Board from website March, 2010
  5. John Stauber, Chez Sludge: How the Sewage Sludge Industry Bedded Alice Waters,, July 9, 2010
  6. Jill Richardson, Food Sunday: Toxic Sludge as 'Organic Fertilizer', FireDogLake, March 7, 2010.
  7. Chris Roberts, Farmers Call PUC's Shit, Will Dump it on City Hall Today, San Francisco Appeal, March 4, 2010.
  8. Jill Richardson, What San Francisco Found in Their Own Sludge, La Vida Locavore blog, April 8, 2010.
  9. Leora Broydo Vestel, Food Groups Clash Over Compost Sludge, New York Times Green Inc. blog, April 9 2010.
  10. John Stauber, ACSH Makes Alice Waters a Poster Child for Toxic Sludge,, April 12, 2010.
  11. Suzanne Goldenberg, US chef Alice Waters criticised over sewage fertiliser: Top US healthy-eating chef Alice Waters attacked for supporting fertiliser made of sewage that activists say contains toxins, UK Guardian, April 1, 2010.
  12. Jill Richardson, Francesca Takes Legal Action over Sludge Article, La Vida Locavore blog, April 6, 2010.
  13. Bio from SFPUC website March, 2010
  14. Board of Directors, Slide Ranch, March, 2010 Board of Directors, Slide Ranch, March 2010

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