Yesterday the Wire covered British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's fruit-and-vegetable crusade
in America's schools. But he's not the only one making this a pet
cause--First Lady Michelle Obama has also made children's diets a key
component of her anti-obesity campaign
, along with exercise, as she explains in her March 22 Newsweek piece
. Like Oliver, she is getting some surprising backlash, too. Not everyone's happy with her ideas
about food. In fact, some say the First Lady could be hurting, not
helping, the nation's obese.
- Garden-Fresh Focus Uncontroversial--Or Is It? "Why challenge this devotion to plants just tugged from the warm soil?" asks Slate's Daniel Engber. "A single-minded focus on fresh produce distracts us from
the bigger problem: Our children are suffering from a lack of any
fruits or vegetables whatsoever." Canned and frozen produce is
generally not of markedly less nutritional value than fresh produce,
and in some cases is more nutritious--it's also cheaper. Engber
suggests that "under the guise of evidence-based public health,
[Michelle Obama and others] export a set of values from one social
class to another."
- Doing People a Disservice "We aren't doing the nation's lardasses any favors," agrees Reason's Katherine Mangu-Ward,
"by implying that a carrot's not worth eating unless it still has the
green stuff attached to the top, like the ones Bugs Bunny favors and
fancy farmer's markets offer." That's not too different from how Engber
phrases the matter: "What will happen if children learn to thumb their
noses at frozen corn and canned beans? Will that shrink the
fruit-and-vegetable gap [between classes], or will it only make things
- Also: Bok Choy and Mustard Greens? "Hard to see many of the homeless lining up for those," snickers Brent Baker at conservative NewsBusters.
- Oh, for Some Excitement! Calling the first lady "Michelle Milquetoast," The Washington Post's Dana Milbank
seems to want her to take, if anything, more controversial positions.
He rules her "agenda of nutrition, exercise and good parenting" very
"domestic" and "unobjectionable." So what's the problem? "Avoiding
controversy helps Obama keep her sky-high public standing ... But her
low profile also means that she's been underutilized as an advocate of
the president's agenda." He's left unmoved by her televised
lettuce-watering--a bit anticlimactic after the campaign controvery
over her patriotism.
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