So close, Michelle. And yet…

There’s an article in today’s New York Times about Michelle Obama’s vocal support of eating fresh, organic foods .

“You know, we want to make sure our guests here [at Miriam’s Kitchen] and across the nation are eating nutritious items,” said Mrs. Obama, who served lunch to several homeless men and women and delivered eight cases of fresh fruit to the soup kitchen, all donated by White House employees.


In a speech at the Department of Agriculture last month, Mrs. Obama described herself as “a big believer” in community gardens that provide “fresh fruits and vegetables for so many communities across this nation and world.”


Some of those who had called on President Obama to use the White House as a bully pulpit to help improve Americans’ eating habits are cheering Mrs. Obama on.

They were thrilled to learn that the White House gets fresh fruits and vegetables from farms in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. And they delighted in the news that the Obamas had served organic wine at their first big White House dinner, a gathering of the nation’s governors last month.

It’s great that eating fresh, organic and local (though NJ and Pennsylvania isn’t exactly local to D.C.) is getting such attention and promotion from the White House. If you care about food, and food issues, the Obama administration has given you a lot to be happy about.

But then, Mrs. Obama goes and ruins it for me:

In the November issue of Parents magazine, she and her husband described their decision to ditch juice boxes and processed foods.

“A couple of years ago — you’d never know it by looking at her now — Malia was getting a little chubby,” Mr. Obama told the magazine.

They took action, Mrs. Obama said, when “her doctor — he really monitors this type of thing — suggested we look at her diet. So we cut out juice boxes, sweets and processed foods.”

“Malia was getting a little chubby.” (If you’re being interviewed about eating nutritious food, does the journalist force you — at gunpoint — to invoke the obesity ooga-booga-booga?)

Malia is 10 (her birthday is, I kid you not, July 4, 1998). So when she was getting “a little chubby” she was 8. Did anyone think that, maybe, she was gaining weight so that her body could use the stored energy to grow a few inches? Like lots of healthy kids do all the time? (Even if they eat all organic, non-processed food grown within a 25-mile radius of their homes, kids will do this.)

And thank god you’d never know — now — that Malia used to be chubby. Because, a chubby in the White House? Quelle horror!

But, let’s play Devil’s advocate. Why would Malia’s doctor tell the Obamas to toss out the processed foods if he didn’t think there was a causal relationship between these foods and Malia’s increase in weight?

Maybe because doctors, like the rest of us, are inundated with the message that the foods we eat directly lead to obesity, despite research that says our weight is largely genetic and being “overweight” might not be a bad idea for long term health . (Also, many studies discussing the obesity epidemic are sponsored by diet and fitness clubs, weight loss magazines and companies with prescription drugs to sell.)

But back to my main point. I would love to read an article — that’s *not* in a foodie magazine — where local, fresh, organic food is celebrated for its DELICIOUSNESS and/or its GOODNESS FOR YOUR BODY AND MIND, without referencing, either directly or indirectly, that eating well will help you get ready for swimsuit season. Or, get you into the skinny jeans. Or, whatever B.S. happiness becoming thin is supposed to achieve.

So my plea to Michelle Obama: please promote good food because it tastes good and is good for you. And leave the weight gain/loss out of it.

A few thoughts from other people:
And it begins… Obama girls’ diets, weight make national news
Public Health, Nutrition, and the Obama family
The Obama Girls Are Not The Olsen Twins
Is This “Healthful?”

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