Michelle Obama's Green Thumb

Michelle Obama's Green Thumb

Susan Cosier
Published: 01/29/2010

Courtesy of Obama Foodorama

First she planted an organic garden on her lawn, then she hosted a farmers’ market at her house, and now she’s taking on the childhood obesity epidemic. As first lady, Michelle Obama could nurture the sustainable food movement and reap positive results for both kids’ health and the environment.

“She is looking to make a deeper and more lasting policy impact, by spearheading an initiative to reduce childhood obesity that, she hopes, will create a legacy by which she can be remembered,” the The New York Times reported.

Her efforts could begin with school lunches, which are notoriously unhealthy, reports Tom Laskawy in Grist. He hopes that she’ll also address the chemicals in our food that might be messing with our bodies’ hormones and even the genes we pass on to our kids.

“We’re left with an obesity epidemic which has certainly been caused in part by increased caloric intake, but increasingly appears to have been caused in part by our genetic response to all sorts of environmental factors,” he writes. “I expect to hear good ideas about getting junk food out of schools and enlisting parents in the work of establishing good nutrition. But I also hope she’s thinking about how to deal with the chemicals in our food which may be altering our childrens’ genes as well as their weight.”

The food kids consume might also be changing their attitudes towards what they eat. Recent evidence shows that junk food—salty, sweet, and processed—can be as addictive as heroin. (Note: the study was done on rats.) Obama has already done a bit to combat that problem by appearing on Sesame Street last November, as we reported here. On the show, she helped Big Bird, Elmo, and some kids how to plant seeds that will eventually bear tasty veggies.

Even the first lady’s image has grown into something that the public seems ready to eat up. With high poll numbers, Obama’s next steps are sure to bring attention to not only the obesity problem, but also why a healthy environment is a crucial component of health people and a healthy country.

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