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White House Victory Garden

b
bakinggirl Mar 20, 2009 03:31 AM

The Obamas have done it! Today they are announcing that they will plant a 1100sf kitchen garden at the White House. I hope that this will be an inspiration to anyone who has a plot of land - or can find room for a container on a balcony, deck or stoop - to begin growing their own food. You can read more about this story at http://www.kitchengardeners.org/. (KGI is a great organization dedicated to sustainable local food and food security through self-reliance.
)~ Melissa

  1. d
    DGresh Mar 20, 2009 03:59 AM

    nice front page article in the new york times. Very cool.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/19/din...

    I noticed (referencing the recent controversy in this board over whether Alice Waters came across as too much of a "saint") that michelle was careful to tell people not to feel guilty if they didn't have time for a personal garden, but that they could do other things to eat better, cooking more at home, fewer processed foods, etc.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DGresh
      a
      AMFM Mar 20, 2009 04:36 AM

      here's a short summary if you have less time.
      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29787424/
      very very cool

    2. The Dairy Queen Mar 20, 2009 07:41 AM

      That is pretty neat (even though I'm crabbing about Alice Waters in the other thread.) I think it's awesome that they are using it as an opportunity to educate children about healthy eating. I'm still not sure it's such a great idea to encourage everyone to plant their own gardens. If everyone in Alice Waters home state of CA planted gardens, I'm sure water conservationists would have a hissy fit. But, if the White House's purpose is more about education and inspiring children regarding healthy eating, I think that's great.

      Side note: I'm dismayed by the copy editing of the NYT: " Eating out three times a week, ordering a pizza, having a sandwich for dinner took it’s toll."

      ~TDQ

      10 Replies
      1. re: The Dairy Queen
        AnneInMpls Mar 20, 2009 12:55 PM

        TDQ, you're a woman after my own heart. Me, I'm also enraged by the dramatic increase of poor copy-editing and sloppy writing in major newspapers. (They need to rehire some of those laid-off editors - and pay for real journalism, too.)

        FYI, as JungMann points out below, the new garden isn't revolutionary. The White House already has a kitchen garden on the roof and a herb garden near the kitchen door. Plus, the White House kitchen has been mostly organic since Laura Bush's days - and largely local since Hilary Clinton's.

        http://obamafoodorama.blogspot.com/20...

        Anne

        1. re: The Dairy Queen
          JungMann Mar 20, 2009 01:02 PM

          The NYT could do far worse. The paper I read not only is rife with grammatical errors but also misattributes their misquotes!

          1. re: JungMann
            The Dairy Queen Mar 20, 2009 01:32 PM

            I don't know what paper you read, but, well, the NYT is the NYT. It's supposed to be better than the rest. No apostrophe abuse allowed! But, sadly, yes, budget cuts are hurting everyone these days, it seems.

            Also, in response to some of the comments in this thread: why does something have to be completely new and original to be a good idea? Aren't good ideas still good, even if they're old? Isn't it good to teach kids about proper nutrition and where their food comes from and how to eat fresh food? Surely Michelle Obama did not invent this idea. Neither, as I argued in the Alice Waters thread, did Alice Waters. I'm pretty sure the Clintons didn't...and so on. But,if it's (notice proper use of apostrophe, if anyone from the NYT is reading along) a good idea, isn't it all still good?

            *terrified this hurried post is full of errors for which my fourth-grade English teacher would scold me*

            ~TDQ

            1. re: The Dairy Queen
              JungMann Mar 20, 2009 01:45 PM

              I read the Metro like many other underpaid New Yorkers. Perhaps I'm old fashioned in that I expect the news to be reported accurately, objectively and within rudimentarily correct English, however judging by the snarky tone of the paper, they're more interested in attracting the Jon Stewart set than differentiating between "their" and "there."

              Good does not necessarily mean new, nor does new necessarily mean good. I don't believe any of us were questioning the wisdom of a White House garden, rather we were questioning how meaningful the publicity is and whether it would actually do anything to change American habits given past WH efforts in that regard.

              1. re: JungMann
                The Dairy Queen Mar 20, 2009 01:54 PM

                I used to expect the news to be reported the way you describe, but these days, I have come to expect a lot less. Isn't that sad? I hope that, once we get this crazy newfangled, "new media" thing sorted out, news will resume being reported in accordance with some journalistic standards.

                To your point about publicity. It's been hard to deny that there's been a lot of excitement about this President and his family. Maybe these old/good ideas will reach a new audience, or reach them in a way that's more accessible or palatable to them. Sometimes it's the messenger, not the message.

                ~TDQ

          2. re: The Dairy Queen
            dave_c Mar 23, 2009 09:55 AM

            Why would CA water conservationist have a hissy fit over home gardens?

            A well mulched home garden will use less water than a lawn or a pool.
            Install a drip irrigation system to the home garden, the water conservationist will be singing Hallelujah.

            1. re: dave_c
              Ruth Lafler Mar 23, 2009 01:39 PM

              A pool doesn't necessarily use a lot of water, but the average lawn uses a huge amount of water and chemicals. In addition to a drip system, you can install a grey water system and otherwise collect usable water that would just run down the drain (the water you run until you get the temperature you want out of the tap, for example). You don't need a lot of space, either. Check out square-foot gardening.

            2. re: The Dairy Queen
              Emmmily Mar 23, 2009 11:01 AM

              The misplaced apostrophe breaks my heart (serious pet peeve), but the rest of the story puts it back together again. True, having a garden at the White House is nothing new, but publicizing it and using it to teach kids about healthy eating is. Laura Bush hid hers up on the roof, for pete's sake. It's heartening to see our elected officials started setting an example instead of blatantly contradicting their professed values (cf Spitzer, Craig, Vitter, et al). The real test will be whether the prez actually does all the weeding Michelle claims he will. Good for them!

              1. re: Emmmily
                Ruth Lafler Mar 23, 2009 01:36 PM

                Exactly. It's great they had a garden, but it would have been even better if they'd used their position as leaders and role models to inspire other people to do the same. Or to put it another way, instead of having one garden, they could have had hundreds or thousands.

                I'm okay with the Prez not doing any weeding -- he has a lot on his plate (pardon the pun).

                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                  alkapal Mar 25, 2009 01:05 AM

                  he can do the weeding on the weekends, which he is "taking off" from work.

            3. JungMann Mar 20, 2009 10:13 AM

              A little perspective: we have had 16 years of White Houses touting healthy eating and homegrown foods. Hillary Clinton's vegetable garden pre-dates Michelle Obama's garden by over a decade. And what effect has this had on the dining habits of the American voter?

              As someone who learned to grow beans before he could tie his shoes, I'm glad to hear the Obamas are planting a garden, but let's not make this publicity parade out to be more than it is.

              35 Replies
              1. re: JungMann
                LindaWhit Mar 20, 2009 10:19 AM

                let's not make this publicity parade out to be more than it is.
                ~~~~~~~~~
                Thank you, JM. ITA. But I fear that will continue to happen with anything and everything that is done for the next 4 years.

                1. re: linguafood
                  LindaWhit Mar 20, 2009 10:57 AM

                  Well, let me rephrase as well - "better times for everybody" is something we'll have to wait and see if it happens or doesn't. Differing opinions on whether it will or not.

                  But going back to JungMann's original comment - healthy food and the inhabitants of the White House touting homegrown foods has been around for awhile. Why is it being screamed from the rooftops as the NEXT GREATEST THING with this administration? Just seems to be going *way* overboard. And yet, I'm not surprised with the media they way they are.

                  1. re: LindaWhit
                    a
                    AMFM Mar 21, 2009 07:19 AM

                    i think that the focus here is on making the office and the place more of a public place for americans to rally around/be proud of - an "it's america's house" idea. hence using the garden to bring in kids and do education. and of having it be visible and a place where potentially heirloom crops of american veggies could be grown. literally an american garden so to speak. i like that idea, even if using healthy things isn't new - and i'd definitely agree that it isn't.

                    i also think that the focus is on ways to make healthy eating seem affordable in these economic times. which i think is also a good thing. we don't need to lose ground on health because of this - and if you even want to look at it from a purely financial aspect , we don't want to have to "pay" in health care costs any more dearly 5, 10, 15 years from now.

                    1. re: LindaWhit
                      m
                      mpjmph Mar 23, 2009 10:39 AM

                      I think the shouting from the rooftops is, at least in part, a response to the goading/egging on the Obamas have heard from Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, and others since Nov. 5th. Their way of saying "enough already." I do hope that the first family's commitment to supporting accessible and affordable fresh foods will show up in other ways, primarily through agriculture reform. That, and I really, really wish I had a single square foot of space that gets enough sun light to grow something edible, much less 1100.

                      1. re: mpjmph
                        m
                        MakingSense Mar 23, 2009 12:03 PM

                        Don't be so quick to assume what the First Lady was promoting with the new vegetable plot. Maybe it wasn't any agenda about "supporting accessible and affordable fresh foods [or] agriculture reform."
                        As First Mom and First Wife, as well as First Lady, she has her OWN priorities and they may not align with those of food activists.
                        The President has appointed a competent Secretary of Agriculture with his own compelling personal story to deal with the complexities of agricultural policy which extends beyond the food that we eat.

                        As the Washington Post pointed out this weekend about the newest Victory Garden on the White House grounds, "Ms. Obama, having no need to defeat the Axis and showing no inclination to get involved in the politics of food, did not set forth any goals for the new garden aside from the hope it might help educate children about healthy eating."
                        http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

                        Michelle Obama finessed the politics with grace and charm.
                        She's going to use this for a very positive message to families and children across America. Eat your vegetables. They're not so bad.My kids are willing to try them.
                        Maybe she'll even get her husband to eat the beets that he doesn't like. That would be a victory, wouldn't it?

                        1. re: MakingSense
                          m
                          mpjmph Mar 23, 2009 12:39 PM

                          I'm not making any assumptions. The First Lady said it herself - her goal is to encourage the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, first by children (and their parents) then by entire communities.

                          Unfortunately we desperately need to change our food policy so the very children she wants to help can get more fresh fruits and vegetables. I'm just expressing my hope that real agriculture reform will happen. From my point of view, the individual behaviors are most likely the change when encouragement happens at all levels of society, education and policy change go hand in hand. It's not enough for kids to know about all the wonderful fruits and vegetables out there, they have to have access to them too.

                          So the message is good, it just needs to be supported by real action. And, in response to LindaWhit, I still think part of the "volume" of the message is to get the veggie-bible beaters to back of a little.

                          1. re: mpjmph
                            m
                            MakingSense Mar 23, 2009 08:36 PM

                            You're sending mixed messages.
                            On the one hand, you say that change is "most likely...when encouragement happens at all levels of society," and then you single out some group as "the very children [Mrs. Obama] wants to help."
                            Isn't the strength of her message that ALL of us need work on this?
                            Even some wealthy people eat pretty crappy and stores stock a lot of that junk because it sells!

                            The fact is that Americans across the board do have access to good food, even if it's canned or frozen, and may not live up to the standards of some food activists.
                            The trick is getting them to make better choices.
                            That gets the entire system moving in a better direction. When people want things, the market provides them. That happens just as easily at corner convenience stores as at Whole Foods.
                            The marketplace reacts more quickly and more efficiently to consumer demands than Congress.
                            Mrs. Obama may well be more effective than any legislation has ever been or could be.

                            Now eat your veggies. The First Lady says they taste good and they're cool.

                            1. re: MakingSense
                              m
                              mpjmph Mar 24, 2009 07:29 AM

                              When I say "all levels of society" I'm not referring to social class, I'm referring the the various levels of the social-ecological framework - individual, interpersonal, institutional, community, and public policy. The best way to change the behavior of a group of people, in this case getting more Americans to eat more fruits/vegetables, is to address the issue at all levels. It's great to raise awareness and encourage behavior change, but policies need to make the changes possible/easy.

                              The White House garden is a great way to address the individual/interpersonal levels and, depending on the implementation, the community level. While the garden may get kids to ask for Brussels sprouts, it does nothing to make fresh vegetables fit the budgets of school cafeterias that are dependent on subsidized foods to make ends meet. I have no problem with frozen (and some canned) vegetables, but it's a bit of a bait and switch to show American the joys of fresh green beans from the garden then send them to the store to buy a can of Green Giant. The market can only respond when it is free, and right now it's rigged.

                              So to the Obama's - Plant on! But please Mr. President, fix our food system.

                              1. re: mpjmph
                                m
                                MakingSense Mar 24, 2009 11:50 AM

                                I'm cheering Mrs. Obama on because she has a better shot at fixing things than generations of your "social-ecological framework."
                                We've spent more than $11 trillion since the 1930s leading horses to water that they don't drink.
                                When people aren't buying, it's time to sell something else.

                                The quality of the American diet has deteriorated while health concerns have grown for great numbers of people. Much of that is due to poor CHOICES - pure and simple.
                                Even if they're buy canned vegetables, they're eating those instead of frozen pizza and Count Chocula. It doesn't matter if they're buying it with Food Stamps or an American Express Card.
                                Mrs. Obama can give them the incentive to upgrade their choices by making those choices desirable.
                                Many people can plant gardens. Food Stamps allow the purchase of seeds and vegetable plants which would greatly help the rural poor who far outnumber the urban poor. Their access to fresh foods is even more limited if they don't garden.
                                Michelle Obama can bring this back to millions as a way to triumph over adversity and live well.

                                Think of this as a marketing campaign. Nobody uses guys in suits to sell consumer products. LOL. They use celebrities and popular figures whom the public wants to identify with and emulate.
                                Michelle Obama is a wonderfully empathetic person. A mother with kids who knows what it's like to have a job, be pressed for time, have a husband who travels (and hates some veggies.) They had the SAME problems as YOU do.
                                She is inviting Americans - ALL Americans - rich and poor - to come along WITH her to solve this problem.
                                There is nothing patronizing about her appeal. No stuff about the poor and disadvantaged, welfare people who we should feel sorry for. No black, white, hispanic, asian. Nothing.
                                She makes people feel GOOD, not bad.
                                Her message is that we can all do better. How can anyone disagree?

                                1. re: MakingSense
                                  m
                                  mpjmph Mar 24, 2009 02:12 PM

                                  I really think you're misreading my statements, and reading a lot into them that I did not intend. I'm not disagreeing with Mrs. Obama, and I do not think the garden is a bad thing. It will generate positive behavior change. I'm just saying that we shouldn't pin all our hopes on this garden. The garden is a good start, a powerful symbol, but we have to do more.

                                  1. re: mpjmph
                                    m
                                    MakingSense Mar 24, 2009 03:16 PM

                                    If everything that has been done since the 1930s has apparently had negative results, isn't it possible that a "positive behavior change" is the missing factor?

                                    The use of effective marketing campaigns have made smoking and drunk driving socially unacceptable. Political correctness (for better or worse) drives public speech if only because people are afraid to say some things.
                                    There was an article in this morning's paper about the ownership of cellphones among the homeless which is now at about 35 to 40%. Virtually everyone else has them. Some families have multiple cells. Many have no landlines. The government did not provide those cellphones.
                                    Every business has a website - even your local dry cleaner - because that is how business is done today. It is expected.

                                    There was a surge in physical fitness, for example, during the Kennedy Administration after JFK challenged citizens to do 50-mile hikes as part of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, with which he became identified, even though it had been founded under Eisenhower. People were doing it as far away as Germany and all over America and receiving recognition for accomplishing the task, which started out as a challenge to the US Marines.
                                    What a great next step this would be for the Obama Administration to couple with food awareness. A physically fit President urging Americans to get off their butts and get moving. No equipment to buy, no gym to join. You can simply walk to work or around the community.

                                    Policy is driven by the definition of problems and assignment of blame. It singles out villains to punish. It is essentially a negative process.
                                    Policy tries to push a string. That's how we got tied in knots.
                                    Leadership requires that someone say "Follow me." It is positive and optimistic.
                                    Leaders are clear-eyed and show people toward the light. People follow and then they run toward it.
                                    I think that Mrs. O is showing outstanding leadership.

                                    1. re: MakingSense
                                      m
                                      mpjmph Mar 24, 2009 05:10 PM

                                      The drops in drunk driving and smoking are not entirely the result of marketing campaigns. The campaigns were part of it, but so were new or newly enforced laws regarding drunk driving and increased taxation of cigarettes. In fact, increasing taxes is one of the most effective ways of reducing smoking. I know this because I know the people who design and implemented those campaign, they were my teachers and are my colleagues. Even they will tell you that their marketing campaigns are a piece of the puzzle, not the whole picture. But at this point, I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree. And for the record, I have no doubt that President Obama will eventually address the problems in our food system eventually.

                                      1. re: mpjmph
                                        Ruth Lafler Mar 24, 2009 05:29 PM

                                        Smokers are addicts, and like other kinds of addicts, most of them don't care how much their fix costs.

                                        California has had the lowest smoking rate in the country, and I attribute it to the very restrictive smoking laws. Or, as I like to say, they didn't making smoking illegal, they just made it impossible.

                                        I worked in an office where everyone but me smoked, and when I started working there, they all smoked at their desks all day long. Then the law required that they smoke only in "smoking rooms" and eventually, they couldn't smoke inside at all. Having to take a break and not only leave their desks but leave the building to smoke meant longer and longer times between cigarettes, and eventually all of them quit completely. After the law took effect I used to see people standing huddled outside buildings smoking, and that number quickly dwindled as well. Then I changed jobs and saw the same thing happen when our production staff moved from a print shop where they could just step out the door to smoke to a highrise office building where they had to take an elevator down 18 floors.

                                        To relate this back to the original topic, making something like healthy food choices attractive is an important piece of the puzzle, but you also have to make them easy and available. So I guess I'm agreeing that encouraging -- even inspiring -- people to eat healthy food isn't going to do much unless healthy food options are made easy and available, both physically (many poor neighborhoods don't have stores that carry fresh produce) and economically (two liters of soda is a lot cheaper than the same amount of milk or juice).

                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                          a
                                          a213b Mar 24, 2009 06:10 PM

                                          I agree with this; ease of access and good availability are probably just as important (if not more so) than the "marketing" side of things.

                                          Although, just to point out that 2L of soda still is not as cheap as a glass of water ;-)

                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                            Scargod Mar 25, 2009 07:20 AM

                                            I'm not going to say that TV commercials for crap food and drink will ever be outlawed, like cigarette commercials, but good publicity to counter those ads is a good thing. I don't care who it's from. It adds up and creates momentum and changes habits.
                                            Can you see the day that someone is eating pizza, disguised as something else, or has to eat it alone, out in the cold?

                                            1. re: Scargod
                                              The Dairy Queen Mar 25, 2009 07:29 AM

                                              Even Alice Waters serves pizza at Chez Panisse Cafe. I don't personally intend to give it up or eat it in secret. ;-) Last night's dinner menu offered pizza with tomato sauce, spicy sausage, and marjoram http://www.chezpanisse.com/pgcafemenu...

                                              ~TDQ

                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                Scargod Mar 25, 2009 08:59 AM

                                                I think you have to visualize a person "hooked" on artery-clogging, all meat and cheese pizzas. I'm sure hers are delicious and healthy and that patrons would be having a healthy salad and healthy glass of red wine with it! Pretty stiff corkage fee at Chez Panisse!

                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                  l
                                                  lgss Mar 25, 2009 03:26 PM

                                                  We make delicious, healthy, gluten-free, vegan pizza.

                                            2. re: mpjmph
                                              m
                                              MakingSense Mar 24, 2009 08:53 PM

                                              Yes, of course. Proscriptive laws made a difference.
                                              However, particularly with smoking, non-smokers made it socially unacceptable to smoke.
                                              It wasn't that long ago that a proper dinner table included small ash trays and even cigarettes between place settings.
                                              A White House State Dinner menu from the Eisenhower Administration even included "Cigars and Cigarettes" as part of the After Dinner service. Jackie Kennedy carried a beautiful sterling Zippo.
                                              John Cameron Swayze read the evening news on network TV while smoking a Camel cigarette.
                                              Now no one smokes on TV or in the movies. People don't even smoke in their own homes. That isn't a law.
                                              Social pressure changed it.

                                              Congress writes the Farm Bill, not the President. It is not a "food bill."
                                              The last Farm Bill took almost two years to pass and 110th Congress enabled for FIVE years which means that it won't come up again during Obama's term of office. If he gets reelected, he may make some suggestions to Congress and see how far he gets.
                                              There are 535 Congressmen and Senators whose home States' economies depend on income from agriculture and they have to keep running for re-election.

                                        2. re: MakingSense
                                          LindaWhit Mar 24, 2009 03:32 PM

                                          There is nothing patronizing about her appeal. No stuff about the poor and disadvantaged, welfare people who we should feel sorry for. No black, white, hispanic, asian. Nothing.
                                          She makes people feel GOOD, not bad.
                                          ~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                          But this is your opinion - not everyone shares it.

                                          1. re: LindaWhit
                                            m
                                            MakingSense Mar 24, 2009 03:46 PM

                                            Hey, most of the people she's getting grief from are the food activists who wanted her to politicize the garden.
                                            She managed to diffuse it with a lot of skill.
                                            Her staff had long meetings with both Hillary Clinton's and Laura Bush's staffs and they obviously got some good advice about where the landmines are on the White House lawn.
                                            There are some serious IEDs in the kitchen too and she's apparently well aware of it.

                                            Next challenge: the Easter Egg Roll. They've changed the ticket distribution system so that "more people can participate" in an event that always has more people trying to get in than can be accommodated.
                                            I hope the little urchins don't trample the vegetable garden.

                                            1. re: MakingSense
                                              Ruth Lafler Mar 24, 2009 04:06 PM

                                              LOL. As the Obamas are finding out, you can't please everyone: they aren't radical enough for the radicals, they aren't conservative enough for the conservatives even of their own party, and that's not even taking into consideration a certain vocal political faction that hates everything they do and every breath they take.

                                              1. re: MakingSense
                                                Scargod Mar 25, 2009 07:29 AM

                                                Will the little urchins be sent off to play in the landmines? I can't understand where you're coming from or when you're serious.

                                                1. re: Scargod
                                                  m
                                                  MakingSense Mar 25, 2009 10:02 AM

                                                  I guess you've never been to a White House Easter Egg Roll. It's a free-for-all and they may have to guard the new garden.
                                                  Sorry that you mixed up references from two different ideas,
                                                  The landmines are challenge that any First Lady faces in trying to please everyone that was so beautifully phrased by Ruth Lafler - damned if you do, damned if you don't. Everybody wants a piece of her and she will be criticized by somebody regardless of what she does.
                                                  To the extent that a First Lady can depoliticize her job, she will succeed. The President is the lightening rod, not her.
                                                  There are common goals that all Americans share. Her job is to humanize the First Family and America.
                                                  Regardless of partisan political leanings, Americans should be able to identify with the goals and projects that the First Lady undertakes. If she does it right and they still don't, it's their problem.

                                                  First Ladies can have great influence without creating discord.
                                                  Michelle Obama seems sure-footed. She can probably do more to move kids from saying "Ewww" to their vegetables that the entire USDA school lunch program has in decades. She is a working partner to their parents.
                                                  The White House Garden is a good program for America.

                            2. re: JungMann
                              b
                              bakinggirl Mar 20, 2009 11:01 AM

                              I agree with you as far as the dining habits of the American voter, but I believe that by highlighting this issue now (given the economy, and ongoing food safety issues in this country), the Obamas have a good opportunity to educate people. There is too much media hype for everything these days, but I think that many people watch the Obamas and might be influenced by what they do. I don't think this will affect people who do all of their grocery shopping at Evil Mart, but I think it may make some on-the-fencers think hard about where their own food comes from. They may not garden, but they might try going to farmer's markets or looking at labels to see where their produce comes from.
                              I did not grow up with a garden, though my parents had the room. Now as an adult I have "seen the light" so to speak. We garden, can, freeze, shop at farmer's markets, buy local meat and dairy etc. I would love to see others enjoy the unmatched joy of the (literal) fruits of their labor. Every bit helps!

                              1. re: bakinggirl
                                s
                                shallots Mar 20, 2009 12:07 PM

                                Japanese Beetle traps are in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue's future.

                                1. re: bakinggirl
                                  JungMann Mar 20, 2009 12:36 PM

                                  You might be right. This president has attracted supporters far more intense than past voting coalitions. For all the support Clinton, Reagan or even Kennedy enjoyed at their peaks, their faithful were never this enthusiastic. Even with partisan identification at its most polarized in 2004, there was no such thing as commemorative Kerry or Bush plates. Perhaps this enthusiasm to associate with the Obama aura might encourage die-hards to follow in the Obamas' footsteps and be more mindful of their eating habits and plant their own gardens, provided they have the means to do so. But I would venture to guess that large swathes of his most loyal demographics already eat organic and know Pollan isn't something bees carry.

                                2. re: JungMann
                                  ChefJune Mar 21, 2009 05:29 AM

                                  < Hillary Clinton's vegetable garden pre-dates Michelle Obama's garden by over a decade. >

                                  and long before that, Eleanor Roosevelt had a victory Garden during WWII. I think it was pulled out during Nixon's tenure to make way for a putting green.

                                  1. re: ChefJune
                                    l
                                    lgss Mar 21, 2009 05:52 AM

                                    I wonder if the solar panels will go back up...

                                    1. re: lgss
                                      m
                                      MakingSense Mar 21, 2009 02:27 PM

                                      They had to take the solar panels down to fix leaks in the White House roof.

                                      Those panels never produced the hot water that they were supposed to because Washington DC doesn't have enough year-round sunshine to power that early-generation of solar technology. They were really just for show.
                                      They cost about $28K but didn't even begin to pay for themselves. They didn't even save a few hundred dollars on the WH hot water bill.

                                      New solar technology might make it possible to install solar hot water on the White House. It's just been in the past few years that it's been possible in that area.
                                      Even with advances in solar technology, it still accounts for less than 1% of the electricity in the US. We are far from being able to rely on it as a source of alternative energy.

                                      George W. Bush's Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford makes extensive use of solar and geothermal technologies, as well as xerographic landscaping, that uses all of the home's grey water. It can exist virtually "off the grid."
                                      We've come a long way from using things just for show to where they are commonly installed in new construction because they make sense.

                                      It is still difficult to retrofit existing homes, particularly historic buildings such as the White House, with new technologies. As they become more cost effective and better engineered, it is increasingly possible and reasonable.
                                      It makes no sense to use tax-payer money to do it if it costs more than it saves.

                                      1. re: MakingSense
                                        Phaedrus Mar 21, 2009 05:31 PM

                                        I think Carter installed passive panels. The semiconductor panels have much better yield but the payback time is still a pretty long time. In the greater scheme of things most of the renewables are still not making sense in the traditional economic sense. This is why we still need to work on it to get the technology to pay off.

                                        1. re: Phaedrus
                                          m
                                          MakingSense Mar 21, 2009 07:57 PM

                                          Carter installed those huge clunky panels in 1978. They cost a great deal for a very limited application, especially in DC, where there was not an reasonable number of sun days for solar at that time. They were impractical.
                                          Technology has come far enough that the solar panels for that application would cost a fraction today of what they did then, be substantially smaller, and more efficient. Solar is now practical in the DC area for many uses.
                                          The payback is actually reasonable for some applications such as heating pools, residential water heating, and lighting.
                                          We are still a long way off from using solar on a broad scale as a source of alternative energy in the US.

                                          1. re: MakingSense
                                            Phaedrus Mar 22, 2009 07:51 AM

                                            Its better but it still doesn't have a great payoff time. Even for small installations for small applications, the payoff time is still ridiculous but they are much less by orders of magnitude over what was available then.

                                            My point is that if renewables and solar are looked at in a strict dollars and cents point of view, all this is just a showpiece, but it needs to be done to encourage further development, kind of like eating healthy and eating local.

                                    2. re: ChefJune
                                      m
                                      MakingSense Mar 21, 2009 02:29 PM

                                      The putting green was installed for Ike.

                                    3. re: JungMann
                                      bkhuna Mar 23, 2009 02:50 PM

                                      According to Alice Waters, she tried to convince Hillary! to grow a garden but was rebuffed.

                                    4. greygarious Mar 20, 2009 04:04 PM

                                      There is no down side to this, as far as I'm concerned, although surely folks will find SOMETHING to kvetch about. It may inspire additional people to plant gardens or pay more attention to what they buy and where it's grown, and if not, no harm done. Meanwhile a group of schoolkids get some outdoor exercise while doing something constructive and educational. With dozens of crops being planted, they will get to taste produce they've never seen before and perhaps they'll like it. Those whose homes are able to have a vegetable patch might get their families to grow a few things. .

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: greygarious
                                        m
                                        MakingSense Mar 21, 2009 02:04 PM

                                        The kids ALREADY have a garden at their own school. A lot of DC schools do. Not uncommon.
                                        http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...
                                        The kids are certainly NOT going to be able to wander over to the White House and work in this garden whenever it needs weeding. It's going to be tended by US National Park Service employees.
                                        It's in a highly exposed location, far from the kitchens, within viewing distance of the sidewalks on E Street South of the White House so tourists can see it.
                                        The First Family working out there would be a Secret Service nightmare. There may be a few photo ops but do you really think this will be a regular thing???

                                      2. l
                                        lgss Mar 20, 2009 04:52 PM

                                        This is awesome! I was talking yesterday to a 10-yr-old with whom I work about us planting a vegetable garden in her yard this year. (We planted a few flowers last year). I gave her a list of veggies and when to plant them. I asked her to circle the ones she was interested in, expecting her to chose 4-5, but she circled about a dozen!

                                        1. m
                                          mondaybox Mar 23, 2009 09:29 AM

                                          a kitchen garden, a community garden, or even a few pots on a window sill (which is all i'll be able to do this year) is a great way to get kids to appreciate, and want to eat, vegetables ...

                                          http://apricotcustard.typepad.com/apr...

                                          1. bkhuna Mar 23, 2009 02:47 PM

                                            Of course the NYT is having problems, it's expensive paying people to make up the news.

                                            Getting back on topic however, I think home gardeners are wonderful for many reasons. Whether it's saving a little money, eating tastier produce, or even the benefits to your soul from working the land, growing some of your own veggies makes sense.

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