Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Michelle Obama Tackles Children's Diets

This is possibly the best possible use that Michelle Obama can make of the bully pulpit afforded her.  Everyone acknowledges the issue itself and yet it is difficult to divert political attention directly to it.


The press of course jumps on the story line that food woes are the direct result of ‘industrial agriculture”.  This is complete hooey.  To the extent that a problem exists it is because of choices.  If you are stupid enough to supply children with food that lacks nutrition and promotes obesity, then who is at fault.


Why does it take a national regulation to avoid loading up kids with sugar and starch?  Would you allow your own diet to be so dominated?


It does take a national initiative to support parents in determining what is appropriate.


In my own experience we rarely brought classic junk food into the home for our children.  In fact, I never understood why parents ever stocked most of this stuff in their homes.  Our children then at least had to walk (or run) many blocks to make such a purchase.  I also quickly got the children to man paper routes to produce the coin needed to actually buy the stuff.


It is not difficult to provide inexpensive and nutritious school lunches if you use some imagination.  Legumes are invaluable to support a properly balanced diet and allow expensive meat products to be eased out of the budget.  Much of the problem in the present day regime is adherence to far too many theoretical goals when what is normally called for is a filling comfort food able to carry the child to suppertime when the parents take over.


Recall how the simple expedient of enriching corn meal for tortillas in Mexico largely eliminates a major source of malnutrition.


It is not a case of money but of making sure good sense rules.  This is something Michelle is in position to possibly deliver with a first lady’s children’s initiative or foundation if necessary.  Go for it!




Michelle Obama vows to “move the ball” on kids’ diets

19 JAN 2010 9:00 AM

Her husband got dealt a difficult set of cards in taking over the post-Bush II presidency—and has arguably played them quite badly. He now finds himself in a tight political corner: caught between an emboldened Right, an angry Left, and a shrivelled middle.

But Michelle Obama abides, as fabulous and beloved by the electorate as ever. She has built up a tidy store of political capital. She plans to spend it “by spearheading an initiative to reduce childhood obesity that, she hopes, will create a legacy by which she can be remembered,” reports Sheryl Gay Stolberg in The New York Times.

Reducing childhood obesity is a goal that few could argue with. But really it’s an appealing way to frame a massive problem with powerful vested interests behind it: a food system that churns out low-quality, environmentally ruinous food and robust profits for a few companies.
If the First Lady plans to confront the issue in a serious way, she’ll soon be knocking heads with those very companies. She has already gotten a taste of the coming pushback, just by planting an organic garden.

It will take every iota of Ms. Obama’s considerable grace, smarts, and popular appeal to “move the ball” (as she puts it) on the diet-related maladies that confront the nation’s children. The sustainable food movement has never had a more appealing or high-profile champion.

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