Michelle Obama’s Political Gardening

March 20, 2009

The Obama-smitten mainstream media lapped up First Lady Michelle Obama’s announcement that she and 5th graders from a local elementary school were going to plant and maintain a vegetable garden at the White House. The New York Times reported,

While the organic garden will provide food for the first family’s meals and formal dinners, its most important role, Mrs. Obama said, will be to educate children about healthful, locally grown fruit and vegetables at a time when obesity and diabetes have become a national concern.

While we’re all for teaching kids about gardening, Michelle Obama’s garden is more about raising green ideologues than green vegetables:

  • “Locally grown” food is a green euphemism for their fight against imports and exports of food. The Greens don’t want you eating Chilean grapes in the winter or French wine anytime, for example.
  • Organic food, of course, is a symbol of the green movement. The sad truth is that organic food is actually harder on the environment than conventionally grown food, requiring more land, water and labor.

The Times acknowledged the garden’s politics as such, reporting that,

The question had taken on political and environmental symbolism, with the Obamas lobbied for months by advocates who believe that growing more food locally, and organically, can lead to more healthful eating and reduce reliance on huge industrial farms that use more oil for transportation and chemicals for fertilizer.

What will Michelle Obama grow? According to the Times:

The Obamas will feed their love of Mexican food with cilantro, tomatillos and hot peppers. Lettuces will include red romaine, green oak leaf, butterhead, red leaf and galactic. There will be spinach, chard, collards and black kale. For desserts, there will be a patch of berries. And herbs will include some more unusual varieties, like anise hyssop and Thai basil. A White House carpenter, Charlie Brandts, who is a beekeeper, will tend two hives for honey.

Wouldn’t you like your own taxpayer-paid beekeeper?

What’s the lesson for the 5th graders? That they, too, can grow up to be elitist and get glowing PR for hornswoggling children and federal employees into growing fancy vegetables to promote your anti-people political views and to feed your exotic palate?

The Times also noted,

But the first lady emphasized that she did not want people to feel guilty if they did not have the time for a garden: there are still many changes they can make.

“You can begin in your own cupboard,” she said, “by eliminating processed food, trying to cook a meal a little more often, trying to incorporate more fruits and vegetables.”

Aside from the nutritional value offered by a great deal of processed foods, what about all the people who work in or whose jobs depend on the processed foods industry?

Let them eat home-grown berries when they’re put out of work?

Finally, there’s Alice Waters, the San Franciso-based “slow food” advocate and Obama fundraiser. Waters likened the White House garden to the World War II “victory gardens,” telling the Associated Press that,

“To have this sort of ‘victory’ garden, this message goes out that everyone can grow a garden and have free food.”

Free food?

Anyone who has gardened knows first -and that home-grown vegetables can hardly be considered as “free.” Between the water, seeds, fertilzer/compost, pest control, labor and worry, gardening is hardly “free.”

But then again, if you’re the first lady and White House employees and children are doing all the work, and taxpayers are picking up all the costs, maybe there really is such a thing as a free veggies.

20 Responses to “Michelle Obama’s Political Gardening”

  1. adamtheestimator Says:

    I was just wondering, (and its probably just the conservative hate-monger in me) was Michelle Obama this interested in organic gardening back in Chicago? Did they have an organic garden, and bees there, or just now, when it is politically useful…and doesn’t cost them a red cent – or would that be a blue cent? They keep changing the colors on me…

  2. 229819s Says:

    Great person Obama’s idea is very great……………….


  3. […] blog post “Michele Obama’s Political Gardening” pokes fun at the White House gardening effort.  I’m not nearly as cynical, but I do […]

  4. theteacherknows Says:

    The reason that most people do not garden is that it is no longer economically viable. The home gardener can not compete with vast vegetable farms. The economies of scale put the home garden out of business decades ago. Why would anybody try to produce vegetables in their yard for 4+ times the cost of store bought vegetables. (Of course, some people like do do it no matter what the cost, just for self satisfation.)Working a garden is not exactly like working in a nice comfortable office. Hard labor comes to mind instead. Hard labor and gardens just sounds like more fodder for the racist jokers to use.

    • Keith Lehman Says:

      Teacher:
      I don’t know how you grow your garden, but what we produce, unless you are including one’s labor, I can can tomatoes cheaper than store bought ones, if you consider weight per weight between store bought and home grown – not to mention the flavor. And if that was true – why in the world would the Victory Gardens be so popular during World War II if they didn’t help supplement the dinner table at a cheaper cost?
      I don’t think laboring in my garden is all that hard. The reason why most people don’t garden anymore is because they are lazy or too busy watching TV or playing video games – of which I still find time to do both in my allotted time.
      Where did you get the 4+ numbers? With five tomato plants I produce enough canned tomatoes (and some fresh ones in between) to last the winter until the following growing season for a family of three. Beans are easy to grow and plentiful if cared for, which again isn’t hard, et cetera. Either canning or freezing, gardens properly planned and mostly grown from seeds ($1.50 for more seeds one can use during a growing season in most cases) doesn’t sound costly to me. One can of tomatoes costs more than $1.50. Natural compost prevents spending on fertilizers, and the only other cost is the staking, but that pays for itself in one season and is reusable next season. Garden tools is used for other projects around the house.
      I don’t know where you came up with the figure of growing veggies as being more expensive than processed veggies at the store – except maybe corn.


  5. […] Michelle Obama’s Political Gardening The Obama-smitten mainstream media lapped up First Lady Michelle Obama’s announcement that she and 5th graders […] […]

  6. Keith Lehman Says:

    Well, there will be plenty of fertilizer in the bull crap department.🙂

  7. Resident Planning Geek Says:

    I’m not nearly as cynical, but I do worry about the move away from international trade of produce that could result from the growing locally movement. I support community gardens in cities and suburban communities and I applaud the first lady’s efforts.

  8. gaiagraphics Says:

    A garden at the White House is a wonderful idea! It’s like the Victory Gardens the government encouraged people to create during WWII. And I know from experience with gardens in the schools that kids love to grow plants, especially those they can eat. When I lived in an apartment I had a compost pile in a corner of the parking lot; eventually several neighbors had joined in and we ended up with more dirt than we could use in the barrels where we grew our tomatoes and herbs. The Obama’s continue to inspire! So sorry some of the posters here are so dark.

  9. 229819s Says:

    i think that Michelle Obama is very great person…………………………….


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  11. […] the new federal bureaucracy take a look at Michelle Obama’s victory garden, the point of which is to promote organic produce?  Inquiring minds want to […]

  12. lwl948 Says:

    When I grew up my parents almost always had a garden.
    Mom stayed at home and took care of us while my Dad worked. Still yet,it took a lot of his time after work to keep it maintained.
    Growing your own fruits and vegetables is a great thing if you have the time and place and knowledge to do so.
    Going to your local farmer’s market is also great.
    Having a bunch of small children do it for you is unacceptable as is using them for political gain and attempting to brainwash them.
    Millions of people live in apartments and have no place to place for a garden, are they to be deprived of fresh fruits and veggies year round.
    Sorry, did not mean to rant but stupidity like this enrages me.

    • 4timesayear Says:

      lwl948-
      I agree – what she’s doing is entirely political – if it wasn’t she’d be doing this with her own kids – not someone elses. If she wants to have a family garden, that’s a totally different story. And I still want to see her with a hoe in her hand, pulling weeds, and dirt under her nails.
      (I don’t have a problem with children working in the garden as long as it’s familly; my father had us working in ours long before we were in 5th grade)

  13. justbeau Says:

    Gardening (artisanal-scale farming) is an expression of creativity and teaches children about the origins of foods, and the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables. The food is reward for the effort invested. Its premature to view this garden skeptically.


  14. […] this article: Michelle Obama’s Political Gardening « Green Hell Blog Share and […]

  15. rojyaaemon Says:

    5th graders are too young to be employed and paid, so what are they getting for their labor? Some of the food they will grow for the Obama’s? They are just White House sharecroppers.

    • gaiagraphics Says:

      That’s just silly, roj. Admit it, you don’t like the Obama’s and you never will.

  16. 4timesayear Says:

    Michelle Obama – with a hoe in her hands? Pulling weeds? Dirt under her nails? I’ll believe it when I see it.


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