For those close followers, my day job involves politics. And while the story about the Obamas planting a organic vegetable garden on the White House lawn might seem about politics, the gesture is about so much more.
Setting trends is something the White House can do, especially at a time when obesity and other health issues continue to climb. The tough economic times combined with increases in staple food items have sent parents scurrying to find better and healthier solutions.
Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers — some of the most common garden bounties. Eating vegetables home grown add nutrition, color, and fun to the plate. Most of us can't grow our own meat and starches, but vegetables are within grasp.
A simple garden in a large house in Washington, DC is more than just a symbol. It's an active reminder that we can join in and do our part, that homegrown healthy food can be a reality in people's lives. The children who helped launch the garden and who will assist in the growing process are the reality behind the symbol. And the children watching those children are an extension of the revitalization.
One avid follower of the Obamas is Alice Waters, the Berkeley, CA based guru of the slow food process, who has been pressing for the Obamas to start a vegetable garden. Another advocate even from last summer was Roger Dorion, founder of Kitchen Gardens International.
Not that Michelle Obama had to be convinced about a solution. As a mother of two school-age children in the White House, she has come out on eating healthier food, and specifically reducing the reliance on processed food.
What's also cool since Michelle Obama has lived her entire pre-WH life in an urban setting in Chicago, she recognizes that not everyone has a back yard or a spot for a garden.
"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."
The problems are difficult but manageable. We have fallen over time into some solidly bad habits, so we won't get out of them that easily (okay, that is starting to sound like Barack Obama's speeches). But seriously, lots of little steps will get our country back into decent eating shape. The organic vegetable garden in the White House is a step, but a vital symbolic step.