Sunday, September 20, 2009

Let Them Eat Kale?

In How To Shop At Farmer's Markets, Mish picked up on a WaPo report that Michelle Obama was recently in the following predicament:

Let's say you're preparing dinner and you realize with dismay that you don't have any certified organic Tuscan kale. What to do?

Her solution involved what was described thusly, as she visited a local farmer's market that she helped to bring to near the White House:

The Secret Service and the D.C. police brought in three dozen vehicles and shut down H Street, Vermont Avenue, two lanes of I Street and an entrance to the McPherson Square Metro station. They swept the area, in front of the Department of Veterans Affairs, with bomb-sniffing dogs and installed magnetometers in the middle of the street, put up barricades to keep pedestrians out, and took positions with binoculars atop trucks. Though the produce stand was only a block or so from the White House, the first lady hopped into her armored limousine and pulled into the market amid the wail of sirens.

I had seen the report but elected not to comment. Now that a prominent blogger has picked up on it and I came up with a clever title for my own post, I felt that it shouldn't hurt to comment here.

Mish's take is that Mrs. Obama's actions were "arrogant silliness" and that this sort of behavior was out of touch and would tend to hurt the President's popularity.

My take is somewhat different from Mish's. Consider this quote from the article:

The first lady had encouraged Freshfarm Markets, the group that runs popular farmers markets in Dupont Circle and elsewhere, to set up near the White House, and she helped get the approvals to shut down Vermont Avenue during rush hour on Thursdays. But the result was quite the opposite of a quaint farmers market. Considering all the logistics, each tomato she purchased had a carbon footprint of several tons. . .

And now consider the article's conclusion, in which the first lady was described speaking to a crowd at said farmer's market to observe her shopping:

She spoke of the fuel fed to the world's most powerful man: "I've learned that when my family eats fresh food, healthy food, that it really affects how we feel, how we get through the day . . . whether there's a Cabinet meeting or whether we're just walking the dog."

And she spoke of her own culinary efforts: "There are times when putting together a healthy meal is harder than you might imagine."

Particularly when it involves a soundstage, an interpreter for the deaf, three TV satellite trucks and the closing of part of downtown Washington.

This is not of course substantive hard-hitting investigative journalism, but it does have an anti-(Michelle) Obama flavor. The Post, a reliably liberal paper, easily could have covered this event in a much more pro-Obama manner. Whether or not the physical newspaper is or is not acid-free, certainly this article was acidic and acerbic.

From a policy standpoint, the DoctoRx opinion is that I would rather that Mrs. Obama quietly had someone walk to the farmer's market to purchase whatever was needed, and the President:

A) emulate Bill Clinton and present his preferred healthcare reform plan to Congress;
B) put specific provisions in said plan that would favor affordable healthy foods over sugar-added/salt-added etc. ones in a non-coercive way (recall what the Government has done to act against cigarette smoking);
C) mentions (B) in his speeches or TV appearances.

Not only let them eat kale, but reasonable tax and regulatory governmental action can encourage it.

Copyright (C) Long Lake LLC 2009

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