Fall harvest at the White House garden
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?"
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
October 29, 2009; 4:19 PM ET
Categories: Food Politics | Tags: Jane Black, Michelle Obama, White House Garden
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