Nov 17, 2011
by Terence P. Jeffrey, reprinted from a November 14, 2011 cnsnews.com article
(CNSNews.com) – Visiting an organic farm in Hawaii on Saturday, First Lady Michelle Obama said that “arugula and steak” was her “favorite” meal and expressed her view that American children need to “get their palates adjusted” so they will begin eating properly.
Mrs. Obama also said that children in “underserved communities” become obese because they “aren’t growing up with vegetables because there are no grocery stores.”
The first lady was participating in a roundtable discussion at the Ma’o Organic Farms in Waianae, Hawaii. During the discussion, according to the White House transcript of the event, she said that she had started a vegetable garden at the White House to teach young people how to eat.
“But one of the primary reasons we planted the garden was as a form of education,” said Mrs. Obama.
“Childhood obesity is one of my signature issues," she said. "Our goal is to eliminate childhood obesity in a generation. And our view is that if we teach young people early about how to eat, and we give them a connection to the food that they eat, that they’re more excited and interesting, and interested, in what’s going on, and that in turn opens up a broader conversation about nutrition and health and movement–but also deeper issues of access and affordability, which are some of the primary causes of obesity. Because many of our communities–in underserved communities, kids aren’t growing up with vegetables because there are no grocery stores.
“People don’t have that connection,” Mrs. Obama said to her fellow panelists, who included a group of workers and student interns at the organic farm. “And we’re finding, through our contact with kids, that it is in fact working–like you guys: You now eat vegetables. You actually know what arugula is. And you eat it.”
One of the farm’s workers then told Mrs. Obama that arugula was a “favorite” of his.
“That’s right,” said Mrs. Obama. “My favorite, too. Arugula and steak. I like it a lot. That’s good stuff.”
Mrs. Obama then segued back to the importance of properly adjusting the palates of children.
“But we find the same thing is true with young kids, and if they get their palates adjusted to those very interesting flavors, they stay connected,” she said.
Later, in the discussion, Mrs. Obama said that her “Let’s Move” program focused on children for a reason.
“That’s how we’re approaching this obesity initiative,” said Mrs. Obama. “That’s why we set a generational goal. It would have been ridiculous for me to say, in 10 years we’re going to–or in 5 years we’re going to–change the way people have thought about eating and living. It doesn’t happen that way. We start with kids. We start with introducing them. We start with their habits, and it’s, the impact is really going to be on their kids, and how they pass that on.”