Quick question: When you voters stepped into the booth on November 4, 2008, how many of you considered the impact of the White House kitchen on American eating values? (Please vote in our sidebar)
* chirp * chirp *
That is what I figured.
I know it was a concern to me, but I am painfully aware of the status food gets on the American political scene and did not expect much to come of it. Yet somewhere in the back of my mind I maintained a hope that Michael Pollan’s landmark letter to the future president elect, Farmer In Chief, would become a campaign trail talking point. I was not surprised that it didn’t, however.
Unimaginably strong powers are involved in supporting the American “standard of living” that for some reason involves consuming twice as many calories as we should (that’s a conservative estimate of how much we are overeating). If you are curious, ask yourself why dairy (light blue) gets nearly 25% of the USDA pyramid calorie allowance when most of the data suggests we should be largely avoiding milk in our diets.
Wishful thinking aside, there was not much talk of food during the campaign. Maybe one or two articles I came across mentioned something about Michelle Obama being interested in organic food (or that folks from Iowa have a distaste for arugula), but nothing ever led me to believe there was any commitment by the Obamas to change the eating habits of Americans.
I could never have imagined that within weeks of being in the White House, the First Lady would openly assert herself as an advocate of healthy, fresh and local foods. According to this inspiring article published recently in the New York Times,
“[Mrs. Obama] has praised community vegetable gardens, opened up her own kitchen to show off the White House chefs’ prowess with vegetables and told stories about feeding less fattening foods to her daughters.”
What better way to encourage Americans to adopt healthy eating patterns than holding the First Family up as a shining example?
Even more amazing is that she directly addresses the common misconception that fresh, healthy foods are a privilege only available to the wealthy. She has praised community vegetable gardens and helped organize efforts to get fresh food donations into homeless shelters.
She has also taken this opportunity to show parents it is critical for children to get proper nutrition through healthy foods. She explains how important it is to make vegetables appealing to kids, so that they are more likely to eat them.
“And when you’re dealing with kids, for example, you want to get them to try that carrot. Well, if it tastes like a real carrot and it’s really sweet, they’re going to think that it’s a piece of candy. So my kids are more inclined to try different vegetables if they’re fresh and local and delicious.”
The wonderful thing is, there is no question that the Obama’s eating habits are attainable by all families. They are not making sacrifices when it comes to foods they enjoy. Though she spends a good amount of time praising the talents of the White House chefs to make healthy meals she proudly says,
“They can also make a mean batch of French fries when you want it done.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself, Michelle. If you need any more evidence that she is on to something, just take a look at her!
What do you think of the First Lady’s approach to food and health?