The beginning of autumn marks the point when many of our favorite fruits and vegetables are ripe for the picking. This year, harvest has become a national affair. Michelle Obama’s famed White House garden is in bloom and ready to offer its bounty to a country hungry for nutritional guidance. Food columnist and author Mark Bittman recently journeyed to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to discover what the Obamas can teach us about healthful eating.
The White House garden contains about 60 different kinds of fruits, vegetables and herbs. So far this year it has yielded over 400 pounds of fresh produce for the First Family and a community soup kitchen. According to Bittman, the garden will be a sustainable food source for years to come. "With proper tending, this garden will continue to produce food infinitely, without causing a negative impact on the environment.’ The White House garden fits the Meatless Monday philosophy that food should be fresh, nutritious, sustainable and available to everyone.
Sam Kass is in charge of ensuring that the White House harvest is well cared for, both outside and in the kitchen. He is the White House assistant chef and food-incentive coordinator. Kass is an advocate for healthier eating who believes that simple, whole ingredients make for flavorful, satisfying meals. He feels that "the responsibility of all chefs, of all people who cook, is the care and well-being of the people they’re feeding’
Kass is the ideal nutrition spokesman for the Obama administration, which hopes to serve the American public in a similar fashion. According to Melody Barnes, the president’s domestic-policy advisor, "the president has principals for what he wants to achieve, such as setting a higher standard for nutrition, putting more fruits and vegetables on Americans’ tables, making sure kids receive nutritious foods at school, and so on… Our goal now is to fully formulate those principals so that next year we’ll be ready to properly engage with Congress on legislation.’ The Obamas hope that the White House garden demonstrates their commitment to America’s health and sets an example that the nation can live by.
Now that we have received an in-depth look at the First Family’s food philosophy, one nagging question remains: what do the Obamas actually eat? The White House’s executive chef noted that the Obamas eat at home "at least five days a week’ and enjoy balanced, fresh meals that are grilled or simply prepared with olive oil and light salt and pepper. The Obamas also focus on their fruits and veggies and take full advantage of their backyard garden.
Experience our nation’s bounty this harvest season by making fresh produce the star of every meal. The occasional meatless dish allows you to fully experience the flavors of autumn while helping our country’s struggle with climate change. Watch the Meatless Monday video to learn how cutting meat one day a week fits with President Obama’s goals of positive change and nutritional awareness.