21 June 2009

Food Reform Taking Root in The Most Famous House in America

The new White House Organic, Pesticide-Free Garden was launched in late March of this year. Since then the first lady, Michelle Obama has taken a very aggressive position on the topic of food security and food/nutrition issues of importance.

At a most recent White House Picnic event, kids from a local DC school who have been entrusted to helping to cultivate the garden, took part in harvesting and preparing some of the garden veggies. The First Lady took the opportunity to discuss encouraging community gardens, increasing availability of fresh and nutritious foods for kids, and supporting local farmers. Besides serving a symbolic purpose, produce and herbs from the garden are being used to prepare some of the meals in the White House Kitchen.

So how does an Organic Garden come to the White House Lawn in less than 6 months? Well lots of advocacy with groups and campaigns like Eat The View and The White House Organic (WHO) Farm Project. I personally received correspondence about them via a listserv months ago, and felt that their petition was worth signing, so I, along with thousands of others, signed it. WHO ran a very aggressive campaign to help make this White House organic garden possible, even before President Obama was made official in January. For months they traveled the country in a makeshift school bus with a second school bus flipped on top of it serving as a spot for a mobile ‘roof top’ garden.

A similar White House Garden was successfully implemented over half a century ago by the Roosevelts. At that time it inspired Americans,encouraged them to get back to basics, and provided affordable, healthy food. Hopefully it will have similar results this time around. From the way things have progressed so far with the present garden, it looks like things are heading in the right direction. It would be nice to see the impact of the garden go far to influence food policy and the ever evolving food movement slowly gaining momentum right now.


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