Friday, March 27, 2009

Michelle Obama's Victory Garden


This is old news, but I felt it important to make mention and applaud the Obamas for planting a victory garden at the White House. It's hard to believe it's taken so long for a first family to do this. The only time was Eleanor Roosevelt in 1934.

The first article I found today in my search for more information on the garden was from a UK paper the Guardian, which is where I got the above picture. They talk about how Alice Waters tried to get the Clintons to do this. Her response to it finally happening was joyous and she is quoted as saying: "that everyone can grow a garden and have free food."

Sounds good, right? I mean even people without jobs like me can muster up a few bucks for seeds and find a community garden and eat the benefits all Summer long (and longer if you make some pickles or jam or...). But then they include this quote from someone who, until now, I have always greatly respected and whose videos I have highlighted here on this blog, Anthony Bourdain, who had this vile and evil comment to make:

Chef and writer Anthony Bourdain, who penned Kitchen Confidential, caused a stir in January when he said: "We're all in the middle of a recession. Like we're all going to start buying expensive organic food and running to the green market. There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic."

Khmer Rouge? He compares Alice Waters wanting poor and working class people to be able to feed themselves to the Khmer Rouge? Wow, that is one of the most extraordinarily, hyperbolic and offensive things I've read in my life. Really offensive.

Here's how I break it down. He's saying organic food and green market food is more expensive. OK, well certainly corporate organic food from California is, but not so much more expensive, and then there is the health aspect to buying organic, it's more nutritious, and the more popular it gets the more competitively priced it gets. On a recent tour of my favorite shops in Chinatown I saw a huge box of organic cherry tomatoes that were a buck a pound, I challenge Mr. Bourdain to find me radioactive, imported, genetically altered tomatoes at a better price.

What is he saying? That poor people should eat high fructose corn syrup because it's cheap? That we should shop for food at 99 cent stores and only eat processed food past it's expiration date? And as for dissing green markets, obviously it's been a long time since he has been to one here in New York City. I have no money and have been unemployed for 9 months, in the peak of Summer if you go to any Green Market in the city at the end of the day most vendors have dollar bags filled with tomatoes, potatoes, onions, zucchini, summer squash, apples and the list goes on and on. Oh and, while we are on it, most vendors at the Green Market accept FOOD STAMPS.

Jerk.

To compare Alice Waters to the Khmer Rouge, a radical Maoist movement in Cambodia from 1975-1979 who killed 1.7 million of it's own people, emptying the urban centers, killing everyone with an education and forcing the rest to farm rice so that they could sell it to the Chinese for arms thereby creating one of the worst famines in history makes my blood boil. I've totally lost my taste for Mr. Bourdain who apparently is not only so starved for attention he will say anything, but also woefully ignorant of history.

Oh and did anyone tell you that Mr. Bourdain is in his own right a millionaire with a TV show and he used to be the chef at Les Halles, a fancy, expensive steak restaurant? Yeah right, how do you spell hypocrite? So you see he's really concerned about feeding poor people. As my mother used to say when she got really angry: "I'm so angry I could spit!"

I'm not sure why spitting is such a perfect physicalization of anger, but I still like the phrase.

OK now to end on a more upbeat note. Thanks Michelle for teaching our children about how food is grown, and setting an example for all parents by teaching the next generation the value of home grown vegetables and fruits and how no matter what the economic situation, we can all have a hand in eating healthier, smarter and more self sufficiently. The perfect thing to do in a recession.

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