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Fall harvest at the White House garden

Obama vs. the giant fennel. (Reuters – Larry Downing)

Events at the White House garden have become a pretty routine affair. Local fifth-graders sit at picnic tables with red-and-white checked tablecloths. Michelle Obama arrives to dazzle the crowd with insights about healthful eating -- and her outfits. (Today, blue cords, belted purple cardigan and purple Converse sneakers.)

Today was no different -- until Obama tried to harvest a giant fennel.

The sweet potatoes were easy. She and several students from Bancroft Elementary School, who have helped prepare, plant and care for the garden all year, easily harvested dozens of giant tubers. (One looked to weigh as much as 5 pounds.) The turnips and celery root? A cinch. But then Obama turned her attention to the fennel. For almost a full minute, Obama and a fifth-grade assistant dug, pulled, grunted and yanked. When the stubborn bulb finally came loose, Obama looked relieved.

"You have to promise me after this, you'll eat your vegetables," she told the students. "Promise? Something green. Okay?"

Students from Bancroft and Kimball Elementary Schools celebrate the fall harvest with Michelle Obama and White House staff. (Reuters – Larry Downing)

Obama has made healthful eating one of her signature issues since arriving at the White House. In March, she became the first to plant a vegetable garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt, an effort that grabbed headlines around the world. So far, 740 pounds of vegetables have been harvested. The garden cost about $180 to install.

Last month, she christened a new farmers market near the White House. And last week, she helped launch the Department of Agriculture's Healthier U.S. Schools Challenge, which recognizes schools that provide healthful meals, eliminate junk food and promote physical education. The message: healthful eating is key to tackling childhood obesity and rising health care costs.

Today's event felt more like a school field trip than a carefully crafted political event. Students from Bancroft and Kimball Elementary in southeast Washington gathered more than 200 pounds of produce. All will be donated to Miriam's Kitchen, which serves healthful meals to the homeless in Washington.

– Jane Black

By Jane Black  |  October 29, 2009; 4:19 PM ET
Categories:  Food Politics  | Tags: Jane Black, Michelle Obama, White House Garden  
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what a wonderful way to spend time

Posted by: anon82 | October 29, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

The critics of the President should note this cost effective program.

How about some more like it?

Posted by: gary4books | October 29, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

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