Updated: Video from the Washington Post added below.
It certainly has a different ring to it than “Rose garden press conference,” doesn’t it? As reported in the New York Times, First Lady Michelle Obama will be breaking ground Friday morning on a White House vegetable garden.
The Obamas will feed their love of Mexican food with cilantro, tomatilloes 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 who is a beekeeper will tend two hives for honey. [...]
Mrs. Obama said, “there’s nothing really cooler than coming to the White House and harvesting some of the vegetables and being in the kitchen with Cris [Commerford] and Sam [Kass] and Bill [Yosses], and cutting and cooking and actually experiencing the joys of your work.”
None of this would have been possible without the dogged determination of a group of activists: Kitchen Gardeners International, with their Eat the View campaign; White House Farmer; the White House Organic Farm; and outspoken figures like Alice Waters and Michael Pollan. And that’s not to mention the support of everyday gardeners and citizens, over 100,000 of which petitioned the White House through “Eat the View” alone! That petition has now been changed over into a thank you letter to the Obamas - after months of hard work, change is finally sprouting.
This announcement comes right on the heels of some very clear statements made by Mrs. Obama on behalf of healthy eating. Last week, the New York Times covered the First Lady’s appearance at a scratch-cooking soup kitchen, called Miriam’s Kitchen.
As the nation battles an obesity epidemic and a hard-to-break taste for oversweetened and oversalted dishes, [Mrs. Obama's] message is clear: Fresh, nutritious foods are not delicacies to be savored by the wealthy, but critical components of the diets of ordinary and struggling families.
It is so important at this time in our movement that we re-frame good food as a right for all, and a vegetable garden has an incredibly democratic appeal. With all the controversy of “arugula-gate,” the Obamas have learned that eating well can be a loaded issue in this country. So while it’s unlikely that Michelle Obama will be publicly aligning herself with Slow Food or the many sustainability figures who were so influential in pushing for this garden, the symbolism of planting a kitchen garden is strong. Only a few months into the new administration and it is quite apparent that the Obamas will be advocates for healthy eating.
But what about the burden on taxpayers in these uncertain times, you ask?!
Total cost for the seeds, mulch, etc., is $200.
It just makes sense to grow your own.
If you’re in the planning phase right now for your own kitchen garden, you can see a garden plan of the new plots here on the New York Times’ website.