Tag Archives: locavore

President OKs peas; nixes beets in his garden

President: n. the tall skinny guy who’s trying to put the country back on its feet.

Peas: n. the small edible seeds or seedpods of the legume Pisum sativum

Packets of Power! by Kerstin Anna-lise

Healthier than Peas! Photo by Kerstin Anna-lise

The local food activists like Alice Waters evidently got through to Michelle Obama. The First Family is putting in a vegetable garden at the White House – the first since Eleanor Roosevelt planted a victory garden in WW II.

Tomorrow they’ll begin digging up the south lawn for a garden that will not only provide some fresh veggies for the Obamas, but also serve as a demonstration garden for visitors, especially school children.

They’re planting peas, and lots of lettuces and greens, but the president has decreed “No beets!” because he doesn’t like them.

Michelle, are you going to let him get away with that??

He may not like (super-healthy) beet bulbs, but I bet he’d like their yummy greens. And what kind of example is “I don’t like beets!” for his kids?  They should learn to try everything.  Indeed, is there any reason Michelle and the kids shouldn’t enjoy beets when Daddy is traipsing around the country doing the People’s Business??

Come on Michelle, don’t let him off the beet hook.

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Parsnips, potatoes and peas: the President’s garden? (Updates)

Parsnip: n.  (Pastinaca sativa) is a root vegetable related to the carrot. Parsnips resemble carrots, but are paler than most of them and have a stronger flavor. They are native to Eurasia and have been eaten there since ancient times.

Potato: n. a starchy, tuber (Solanum tuberosum) of the Solanaceae family.  Potato is the world’s most widely grown tuber crop, and the fourth largest food crop in terms of fresh produce after rice, wheat, and corn.

Peas: n. the small spherical seeds or the seed-pod of the legume Pisum sativum. Although treated as a vegetable in cooking, it is botanically a fruit.

parsnip

Alice Waters has a(nother) grand idea: the President and Michelle Obama should establish and eat from a bounteous organic garden on the White House grounds.

In 1971 Alice co-founded the world-famous restaurant, Chez Panisse, less than a mile from my former home in Berkeley, California. Alice has been cooking, preaching and teaching “Local, Fresh, Seasonal, Organic” foods ever since, and is credited by many as the force behind America’s culinary revolution.

When my daughter attended King Jr. High, she was bringing home math word problems that favored candy, cookies and donuts to be multiplied or divided. The school lunch program depended on high fat commodity foods (vegetables??? that was the era of Reagan calling ketchup a vegetable!).  As a public health educator I decided something needed to be done. I consulted with the food service on healthier menus, worked in the classroom with the kids to expose them to new more healthful foods, and with the teachers to incorporate healthier foods in the math problems.

Improvements were very slight during my daughter’s school days, but I like to think I opened the door, because a few years later, Alice (with MUCH more clout than I) came in and proposed that the school install a big vegetable garden, the “edible schoolyard“, so that kids would have a very direct experience of working in the garden, being responsible for their crops, and learning to cook and eat them.  It was and is an amazing project, copied now in a number of other schools around the country.

So back to the President’s vegetable garden. I will go on record here to say that if Alice is on the case, it’s as good as done.

The next level, which will be more challenging to pull off, involves a major reworking of the USDA, the government’s incestuous involvement with agriculture (aka the giant corn, soy, beef, and pig producers). Another big gun from my home town, Michael Pollan, is on the case.

Pollan is a professor of journalism at UC Berkeley and best-selling author of such stupendous reads as Botany of Desire, Omnivore’s Dilemma, and In Defense of Food (and what a writer! what fascinating material, what an original mind, and he’s even funny… you can probably tell I heart Michael Pollan).

Pollan’s idea, which he wrote about at length in the New York Times Magazine before the election, is that the President (“the Farmer-in-Chief”) needs to create  Department of Food – which will concern itself with re-localizing the nation’s food supply, making agriculture practices environmentally sustainable, and re-introducing Americans to real food (as opposed to food products) and cultural food practices, like -OMG! – families eating meals together.

Obama did read the article, and responded to it in an interview with Time Magazine‘s Joe Klein.

I’m still not holding my breath for the parsnip to be on the president’s plate, although it’s might tasty in a mix of roasted root veggies.

Update 1/23/09: Check out the videos at Eat the View’s website on the proposed presidential parsnip-pea-potato patch. “This Lawn is Your Lawn” and “The Garden of Eatin'”  [P is for Puns… note to self: compile a post on puns – nominations accepted.]

Update 3/16/09: Check out the story about Alice as the “Mother of the Slow Food Movement” in the NY Times and definitely watch the video links listed in the last paragragh of her interview on Sixty Minutes. She makes a MEAN breakfast.

Perturbed but not yet pessimistic

Perturbed: greatly disturbed, made uneasy or anxious, confused.

Pessimistic: a tendency to take the gloomiest possible view of a situation.

Times are getting tough. People are perturbed. The usually optimistic are beginning to rethink their positions.

  • An old friend stopped by today. She is visiting from the Bay Area for a long weekend with her husband. Just before leaving town yesterday her boss at Oracle called her in to say she was being laid off.  Part of a purge.
  • My ex has a real estate investment that just went belly up.
  • My gig contributing feng shui articles to the local newspaper was terminated because that section of the paper is being eliminated (along with 20 more staff members).
  • My investment portfolio is down 22% since Jan.1.
  • Food prices have increased 5.3% in the past year.
  • Gas prices are $1.32 a gallon higher in Washington state than a year ago – more than 25%.

It’s not all bad:

  • My laid-off friend found a job in a different division of Oracle and will be able to work when she returns from vacation.
  • Many of us are driving much less and much less aggressively, which is good for the environment and our stress levels.  Some of us even have enough spare cash to buy a Prius
  • Many of us have returned to growing our own veggies… I’ve got lettuce, spinach, herbs, and blueberries right now. Beans, squash, tomatoes, beets, grapes on the way. How locavore can you get?
  • I still have a roof over my head, with enough rooms in my house to sleep extra folks if necessary. I don’t know if I can extend that offer to my ex though… (he still has his own roof).
  • The less I have, the more appreciative I am of what I do have: friends, family, health, music, dance, books, children, beauty, laughter. On and on. So much.