10 in 10: Ensure Every American Child Has Access to Healthy and Affordable Food: A “Gentle” Wish For a New Decade

10in101A new decade brings new opportunities and challenges. The interaction between diet and health received significant attention during “The Aughts.” What will we do during this next decade to respond to the call for action for a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle? This is the fourth in a continuing series highlighting 10 ways you can help this year.


Knowing that the obesity epidemic in the United States has some scientists predicting that for the first time in history American children will live shorter lives than their parents, my wish for the next decade is to see First Lady Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama and his administration succeed in their mission to ensure that every American child has access to healthy and affordable food. A recent gathering of Obama Administration officials invited to discuss their efforts to improve America’s food system left me hopeful that my wish will come true.

Courtesy: White House Blog

Courtesy: White House Blog

Last month in D.C. Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Dora Hughes, Counselor to the Secretary of Health, and Sam Kass, White House assistant chef and Food Initiative Coordinator for the First Lady each shared their goals for the next year during an event for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Food and Community Program. Surprisingly it wasn’t their words that left me so inspired; rather it was the words of 10-year-old David Martinez-Ruiz. Kass shared with the audience a letter that the D.C. elementary school student had presented to the First Lady following his class visit to the White House Garden.

One of the things that I want to say about being at the White House was how gentle the feeling was. It felt surprisingly natural to be there. We planted on a warm day. The sun was out and there was a little breeze. The grass was beautiful and green. The people made us feel good. I liked the way the staff person who helped me was very gentle with the worms we found. I think about the garden as being gentle: gentle with nature, gentle to your body, and gentle with each other. Read More >

Farmers Market on Penn Ave?

At the Organizing for America National Health Care forum on Tuesday, President Obama surprised listeners with a new idea: host a farmers market right outside the White House.

“One of the things that we’re trying to do now is to figure out, can we get a little farmers’ market — outside of the White House — I’m not going to have all of you all just tromping around inside — (laughter) — but right outside the White House — (laughter) — so that — so that we can — and — and — and that is a win-win situation.”

In just a few days, the topic has sprouted up all over the net. Here are the LFB Top 5 reactions and summaries to the President’s market ambition.

1. Obama Foodorama, one of our favorite food blogs around, wrote about Obama’s comment and gave readers a short history lesson. Did you know Thomas Jefferson was credited with turning the earliest D.C. Farmers Markets into what they are now?

2. Our friends over at Grist ran the entire Q&A exchange so we could get the full context of his comment: “Obama Wants to Set Up White House Farmers Market.”

2. The Huffington Post’s Green Blog struck up quite a dialogue with over 90 comments on their story, “Obama Talks Up Local Foods, School Lunches, And Setting Up a Farmers Market Outside the White House.”

3. Jane Black, author of All We Can Eat, reported the news for readers of the Washington Post.com.

4. The White House Organic Farm Project jumped on the story and posted a transcript of the President’s remarks here.  The WHOFarm guys are driving their WhoFarmMobile vehicle (you have to see this to believe it) , across the country to raise awareness about TheWhoFarm mission and petition.

5.  Finally, Food First, whether in reaction to the comment or not, posted information that claims Farmers’ Markets in the U.S. are on the rise.

Show Me the Movement!

Aaron French’s commentary yesterday on the Civil Eat’s blog raises this issue of how prepared the sustainable food movement is to take its seat at the table in Washington. An important question given the receptivity the current administration has shown of late. It seems some more organizing is necessary. Case-in-point: a statement from Obama, as quoted by Michael Pollan at the Georgia Organics conference (where I was on Saturday), in reference to taking action on sustainable food:

“Show me the movement. Make me do it.”

While Obama’s comments are encouraging, they point to the need for stronger organization within the movement. Read More >

What goes in Obama’s mouth may be as important as what comes out.

Leaders in the sustainable agriculture community are not the only ones trying to bend the Obama Transition Team’s ear toward a healthy, sustainable food system (see blog post from 12/23/08). As a recent New York Times article pointed out, everyone from foodies to farmers , chefs to consumers, has high hopes for how Obama will address food issues.

Will there be a new White House chef who concentrates on using local organic ingredients? Will those ingredients come from food grown on the white house lawn? (Those from The Who Farm and Eat the View certainly hope so).  A White House organic garden or a First Family fed organic food would be highly visible symbolic gestures for broader policy changes-changes that could slow global warming, protect our national security and improve our population’s health. Michael Pollan’s open letter to the ‘Farmer in Chief ‘and a recent op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor discussed what some of these policy actions to should look like. (Both noted the importance of eliminating large scale industrial animal farming as we know it.) And, an op-ed in today’s Boston globe noted that Obama would do well to listen to such advice rather than succumb to agri-business pressure, displaying “the courage to defend what the likes of Michael Pollan have to say, without apology.” Read More >