Posts Tagged ‘michelle obama’

Kids vs. Tomatoes

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Tonight at dinner:

Me: “How’s your spaghetti?”
FoodieTot: “Not good. There’s something wrong with it.”
Me: “What’s wrong with it?”
FoodieTot: “It has tomatoes in it.”

He did consent to eat several bites, trying to avoid the visible tomato pieces. I used a different brand of crushed tomatoes tonight, which had a more visible chunk I guess. We’ve been waging battle over tomatoes his entire 3.5 years of life (well, once starting solid foods). He’ll occasionally try one, only to spit it out. We ran into his best friend at the market one summer day and she was buying herself a pint of cherry tomatoes. He declared he did like them then, so we bought a pint as well. Once again, there was a bite quickly followed by, “eww, yuck!”

So I was relieved to read this part of (ChowMama) Stacie’s interview with Feeding Baby Green author Dr. Alan Greene:

“… on average, most kids in the US don’t like whole tomatoes but, if you have them help to chop the tomatoes (carefully, of course), they’re about twice as likely to like them. If they go into a garden and pick a tomato or get a tomato from a farmer’s market before chopping it, they’re about twice as likely again to like it. And if they plant the tomato and watch it grow, most children will actually like tomatoes, just from watching them grow.”

Since the first two suggestions have failed thus far, you can bet we’ll be planting a tomato plant this spring!

For more funny things kids say about food, check out Jenna’s new weekly “Big Words, Little Foodies” round-up over at Food with Kid Appeal.

logo_letsmoveAnd in other feeding kids well news, I’m sure you all saw Michelle Obama’s launch today of “Let’s Move!” — a campaign to fight childhood obesity by increasing access to healthy foods (at home and at school) and encouraging physical activity. (Watch the GMA interview with the First Lady.)

You can get involved by becoming a fan of Let’s Move on Facebook, and visit Slow Food’s Time for Lunch campaign to send a message to your legislators urging increased funding for healthy school lunches.

As Slow Food USA President Josh Viertel explains, “One in three children will grow up to get type 2 diabetes, one in three is overweight or obese, and in the last thirty years, childhood obesity rates have tripled. Fortunately, this is not a mysterious disease. We don’t need to search for a cure. We know what the cure is. Eat healthy food, in reasonable quantities, and stay physically active.”

We’re fortunate to have ready access to fresh, locally grown tomatoes, even if the boy doesn’t yet appreciate them. We have a long way to go to make sure the same is true for every child in America. I’ll be following along and sharing more with you as the “Let’s Move” campaign progresses.

From the White House to DC School Cafeterias: Local Flavor Week

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Yesterday, First Lady Michelle Obama opened the new FreshFarms Market by the White House. Next week, the fresh, local food movement will march not on the marble steps of the Capitol, but down hallways of the District’s public, charter and private schools. As part of this week’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” roll-out by the US Department of Agriculture, additional tools and $50 million in funds were announced to help bring healthy, local foods into schools, now, without waiting for Congress to take up school lunch re-authorization. (Which isn’t going to happen until next year.)

dc farm to school

Also not waiting for Congress to act is the new DC Farm to School Network, which is launching “Local Flavor Week” September 21-25 as the opening foray into bringing the regions farmers into local schools. Together with the Capital Area Food Bank, Whole Foods and other community partners, DC Farm to School is coordinating a full week of taste tests, cooking demonstrations, farmer visits and nutritional education activities. The festivities kick-off Tuesday at the Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School cafeteria in Southeast DC, where local chefs Peter Smith of PS7 and Oliver Friendly of Eat and Smile Foods will compete Top Chef-style using ingredients grown in the school’s garden.

Andrea Northup, coordinator of the DC Farm to School Network, notes that the District has one of highest child obesity rates in the nation. “School-aged children consume most of their daily calories in school meals, so it makes sense that we should connect school with nearby sources of fruits and vegetables to serve in their cafeterias. The only way the District’s schoolchildren will thrive is if they are well nourished and armed with the skills they need to make healthy lifestyle choices.”

If you’re in the area, find out more about participating schools and activities — and volunteer opportunities — at And to find a Farm-to-School organization in your state, take a look at the National Farm-to-School map.

PS If you didn’t catch my live tweets from the White House market opening, here’s a slideshow recap (click picture to view):

white house farmers market whrrl

You can read more about the market opening, and see pics of the First Lady and Chef Kass (whom I missed waiting in the security line), on Cookography, Obama Foodorama and the twitter stream from @FreshFarmMktsDC.

Don’t forget it’s Fight Back Friday — visit the Food Renegade to join in!

An Open Letter to Michelle Obama

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Dear First Lady Obama:

michelle obama white house gardenI have been truly, deeply inspired by your commitment to bringing fresh, healthy foods to the nation’s children and your clear understanding that true health care reform begins with access to healthy foods. I cheered when you broke ground on the White House kitchen garden, applauded your decision to follow organic methods, and saluted your reaching out to the District’s school children to use the garden as a powerful hands-on teaching tool.

I too am a staunch advocate for farmers markets and local family farms, and a supporter of local child-hunger organizations and the new grassroots effort to bring the Farm-to-School movement to DC. I was intrigued when I heard the President suggest that the White House was interested in hosting a farmers market, but now that the plans are beginning to take shape I am sorry to say I am disappointed.

I’m sure you’ve been fully briefed on the important role FreshFarm Markets have played in bringing locally-grown produce to the Washington community. I am pleased that your office is reportedly working with this experienced organization. But I am disheartened to hear that the prospective new market will be held downtown, in a predominantly office building setting where the majority of customers will be suburban-dwelling commuters, and mere blocks from two existing weekday markets at Foggy Bottom and Penn Quarter. I realize that many support the idea of a White House Farmers Market as sending a powerful symbol about your and the President’s commitment to healthy, local foods. But I fear the wrong message will be sent by supporting yet another market that primarily serves affluent people in one of the city’s most affluent wards. Symbolism is not going to solve our nation’s food crisis. It is time for leadership.

And so I am writing today to urge you to reconsider the location and purpose of a potential White House farmers market. I would be elated to see the White House supporting a market in one of the Districts many under-served neighborhoods, such as Ward 8 which currently has just one fledgling market and few other sources of fresh fruits and vegetables.  By working with an existing market, less effort will be required to start up the project thus speeding up the delivery of farm-fresh produce to the hands of those who most need it. I am sure many of us in the District’s robust local foods movement would be willing to volunteer to help out such a worthwhile endeavor. I’ll be the first to sign up.


C. Levine & the FoodieTots family

Photo (c) Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton

Foodie Fun at the White House

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

white house egg roll 2009

We were one of the lucky few, er, 30,000 people to get tickets to the White House Easter Egg Roll yesterday. As promised, it was full of activities to promote healthy, active kids lifestyles. From yoga lessons, soccer, jump roping and basketball activities to cooking demos from District and White House chefs (Art Smith, Jose Andres, and Spike Mendelsohn), First Lady Michelle Obama certainly did her part to shift the focus away from Easter candy binges to healthier living.

Of course, the traditional egg roll took place with enthusiastic children rolling, tossing and/or flinging their hard boiled eggs across the finish line. But beyond the egg roll and photo ops with favorite PBS characters* and a posse of Easter bunnies, other activities kept kids busy and moving around the South Lawn. (*I’m proud to note that the boy identified SpongeBob SquarePants as “Giant Cheese Man!”)

sam kass white house organic garden

Sam Kass, assistant White House chef and gardener, proudly presented a fresh-picked rosemary sprig for a curious family to sniff. Standing watch at the temporary fencing, he answered questions about the White House organic garden, with herbs, rhubarb, chard and fennel plants springing up behind him. (The beehive was nearby, also fenced off from the crowds.)

jose andres white house egg roll

José Andrés (with daughters) was his usual charismatic self, extolling the virtues of summer’s fresh tomatoes and demonstrating how to make gazpacho. (You can find Jose’s gazpacho recipe – which is actually his wife’s – here. It’s one of my favorite dishes at his local Jaleo restaurants.)

egg chair white house egg roll

Among the crafts was a recycled egg carton decorating station, and the souvenir egg we took home was green too, and not just in paint color. According to the White House, they were made from FSC-certified wood and the ones available by mail order come packed in eco-friendly paper packaging. (Not sure how sustainable the hard boiled eggs were — a volunteer told us they cooked 100,000, though the White House fact sheet says only 13,000 — and the one commercial product placement came from the “Incredible Edible Egg” people, aka American Egg Board.)

There was an Easter candy display, but no candy available. No food at all, actually — nor were you allowed to bring food or drinks in. They seemed to only be confiscating open packages at security though, as we made it in with a few small snacks. Thank goodness, because five hours without a meal (after our original group was oversold, we had to wait an extra two hours(!) in line to get in) the toddler was feeling more than a little crabby. (More pictures here.)

White House Organic Garden to Feed Local School Kids

Friday, March 20th, 2009

I’ve been offline most of the week, but am catching up on the Victory Gardenersflurry in response to today’s groundbreaking by First Lady Michelle Obama of the White House organic vegetable garden. While walking that fine political line of supporting organic, local foods without offending the industrial farming complex, the Obamas have lately signaled their interest in promoting healthy food, especially for kids. During a February tour of the White House kitchen, Mrs. Obama was quoted as saying,

“And when you’re dealing with kids, for example, you want to get them to try that carrot. Well, if it tastes like a real carrot and it’s really sweet, they’re going to think that it’s a piece of candy. So my kids are more inclined to try different vegetables if they’re fresh and local and delicious.”

Their own daughters eat local, organic, sustainable lunches at their exclusive Washington private school, while the farm-to-school effort in the District’s public schools is still in its infancy. So we’re thrilled to see today’s ceremony included local elementary school children, who will be involved in the garden from planting to harvesting. For those interested in replicating the White House garden at home, you can view the plans here. And if you were one of the thousands who signed the “Eat the View” petition to the First Family, be sure to sign the thank you petition too.

For those of us also concerned about the plight of the honeybee, Obama Foodorama reports that the White House will also maintain working beehives.

Our kudos to Mrs. Obama and all involved! (Now about that Food Safety Working Group …. )