Broccoli? OK, Mr. President, we believe you

07/26/2013 09:15:00 AM
Chris Koger

Chris Koger, News EditorChris Koger, News EditorHere’s something we know to be true: Politicians sometimes lie.

Or at least they’re not forthcoming with the whole truth. It’s called “spin,” and political careers rely on it.

So the recent proclamation by President Barack Obama that broccoli is his favorite food didn’t raise many eyebrows around here.

That can’t be true ... can it?

Anyway, this slipped out during the Kids’ State Dinner, part of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign to combat childhood obesity.

When I heard this, I thought about Joe Wilson’s September 2009 “You lie!” outburst, interrupting Obama during a joint session of Congress.

Schoolchildren are an easier crowd, though. Not a peep of disbelief.

True or not — I really don’t have a reason to doubt the president (in this case) — the pervasive message from the White House should be commended by the industry at every turn, and this public endorsement of broccoli is just the tip of the iceberg.

The first lady’s Let’s Move initiative has engaged the industry like no other previous administration’s program that I can remember.

Through donations to the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools campaign, companies are finding a direct link to help boost consumption. Not too many years ago, growers weren’t exactly in the loop when it came to ensuring fresh fruits and vegetables were part of school meals and snacks.

I admit I’ve had more than a few chuckles about how the administration’s healthy eating message seems forced: the YouTube video of (the then-) U.S. Department of Agriculture’s deputy secretary Kathleen Merrigan and White House assistant chef Sam Kass touting plastic tunnels allowing year-round vegetable production in “any climate,” and the use of the White House pastry chef to promote healthful eating.

I used to have the image of Michelle Obama swooping in to slap a Ho-Ho out of a fat kid’s hands when hearing about a new event highlighting the anti-obesity campaign.

Not so anymore. Of course, I support programs that help fruit and vegetable marketers sell more product, but it’s more than that.

The Obamas are not only putting political muscle behind the fight against childhood obesity, they’re inviting the industry to pitch in.

A side note: How things have changed since the Clinton years. Remember the “Saturday Night Live” skit with Clinton campaigning at a fast-food restaurant, stopping to sneak french fries and cheeseburgers off diner’s trays?


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AK    
July, 29, 2013 at 05:13 PM

REALLY?! For crying out loud, what a piece of partisan garbage. The Obama administration is doing more for the produce industry by encouraging healthy eating than any president in recent history (as a school kid, I remember ketchup was considered a vegetable - go Reagan! I am sure you'd hop right in line to support that nonsense) and you will only begrudgingly accept its help, getting a few jabs in on the way out. Disgusting.

Chris Koger    
July, 29, 2013 at 05:28 PM

Whoa, hey now. If you read through the first paragraphs you'll see that I said just exactly what you're saying: " ... the pervasive message from the White House should be commended by the industry at every turn, and this public endorsement of broccoli is just the tip of the iceberg. The first lady’s Let’s Move initiative has engaged the industry like no other previous administration’s program that I can remember." "The Obamas are not only putting political muscle behind the fight against childhood obesity, they’re inviting the industry to pitch in." By the way, this isn't the only time I've given kudos to the administration's efforts. I've even urged trade industry organizations to invite Michelle Obama to speak at their conferences. Chris Koger

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