Saturday, March 21, 2009

Michelle, My Hero

Michelle Obama has been showing up in the news recently with an endeavor to start a vegetable garden at the White House. Along with the garden, she has been touting healthy lifestyle choices and overall nutrition for youngsters. I've always liked Michelle's style, and this is one more reason to give her some positive acclaim.

Here is the story:

First lady Michelle Obama and 26 fifth graders armed with shovels, rakes and pitch forks Friday started work on the vegetable garden at the White House.

Make that the organic vegetable garden, which is intended to grow year-round produce for the White House and Miriam’s Kitchen, a nearby soup kitchen. The Obamas are advocates of healthy eating based on fresh, organic meals with loads of vegetables and fruits.

This is the first vegetable garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt planted a victory garden during World War II. “Wow, this is exciting, you guys ready to roll?” Obama said to the students from Bancroft Elementary School in Washington, D.C. “This is a big day. We’ve been talking about this since the day we’ve moved in.’’

The children will be involved in planting crops, tending the garden and harvesting.

Obama set aside a shovel and used a pitchfork to work up the area where the pea patch will be located in the 1,100 square foot garden. She told the group the point of the garden was to make sure her family had access to fresh vegetables and fruits.

“My girls like vegetables more if they taste good,’’ Obama said and added, “Especially if they’re involved in planting it and picking it.’’

And nothing tastes better or sweeter than a freshly picked pea.

For information on how to start organic farming, the Rodale Institute’s website is fertile ground.

Healthy eating combined with exercise helps people maintain their ideal weight and avoid a myriad of problems that come from living an unhealthy lifestyle. Sixty-six percent of Americans are overweight or obese, knocking years off their lives.

My Pyramid, created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, explains the different food groups and offers personalized eating plans, including one for pre-schoolers.

Obama’s fellow gardeners got a healthy snack when they were done working the soil. Apples, apple cider and sugar cookies -- with organic flour -- and in the shape of shovels.

Photo by Win McNamee, USA TODAY: First lady Michelle Obama and students break ground on the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn.

--By Janice Lloyd, USA TODAY

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