In the run-up to yesterday’s inauguration, all sorts of dietary busybodies came out of the woodwork to make their wish lists known to America’s 44th president. Green groups begged for an organic vegetable garden. Michael Pollan weighed in with an 8,200 word open letter asking for a “reform of the entire food system”. But to the dismay of food activists everywhere, “Obama Foodorama” has been a bit of an anti-climax. No new “food czar” or activist Secretary of Agriculture. No all-organic White House chef. And on Monday, Washington Post food writer Jennifer Huget weighed in on the President’s “foodie” letdown with the most down-to-earth take we’ve heard so far.
Noticing activists’ disappointment with President Obama’s “pragmatism” on food issues so far, Huget asks:
[I]s it really incumbent upon a president to serve as a model eater for the nation? … [A]s a matter of human decency, the first family, living in a fishbowl that’s also a pressure cooker, should be cut some slack. After a hard day of fighting terrorism and a global economic slump, you could be forgiven for grabbing a tub of Chunky Monkey and four spoons.
Global hunger, terrorism, and the worst economic slump since the Great Depression. OR organic gardening. Hmm…
Elitist food marketers would love to see President Obama use the White House to sell their overpriced (and overhyped) fare, just as PETA would like to see the National School Lunch Program vegan-ized by Presidential decree. But Huget makes an important point: Should it really be the new president’s priority to promote fringe or luxury diets?
Of course, we see the value in President Obama encouraging healthy lifestyles by installing that new White House basketball court that he’s been talking about. But with pressing economic and national security issues now facing the new Leader of the Free World, we won’t be shocked if he has other priorities. Why should “foodies” or vegetarians be?
Rather than try to convert President Obama to vegetable gardening or gourmet food peddling, let’s hope disgruntled food activists do us a favor: Follow Huget’s advice and let our new President do his job.