For gardeners, there is nothing new to learn in American Grown, The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America by Michelle Obama. But it doesn’t matter.
Before I downloaded American Grown, I had to consider if buying it was a political act. I spend a great deal of my time at work in a 15,000 sq. ft. organic vegetable garden that exists solely for the purpose of educating New York City School children about where food comes from. I am already a convert to the current gardening movement. I am not interested in the White House garden as a garden and I am already familiar with gardening movement around the country, so?
Gardening is a safe topic. It comes with none of the baggage of abortion or gay marriage. I admire Michelle Obama for her efforts on behalf of healthy eating, nutritional food and war on couch potatoes is needed,. For those who need the validation of a First Lady to open their eyes to the food movement, this is a good start.
The guy who has more to say about the politics of food than anyone I know of: Wendell Berry
“I begin with the proposition that eating is an agricultural act. Eating ends the annual drama of the food economy that begins with planting and birth. Most eaters, however, are no longer aware that this is true. They think food as an agricultural product, perhaps, but they do not think of themselves as participants in agriculture. They think of themselves as “consumers.” If they think beyond that, they recognize that they are passive consumers. They buy what they want – or what they have been persuaded to want – within the limits of what they can get. They pay, mostly, without protect, what they are charged. And they mostly ignore certain critical questions about the quality and the cost of what they are sold: How fresh is it? How pure or clean is it, how free of dangerous chemicals? How far was it transported, and what did transportation add to the cost? How much did manufacturing of packaging or advertising add to the cost? When the food product has been manufactured or “processed” or “precooked,” how has that affected its quality or price or nutritional value?…”
“When I think of the meaning of food, I always remember these lines by the poet William Carlos Williams, which seems to me merely honest:
to the imagination intact.
Wendell Berry, The Pleasures of Eating