Michael Pollan says we need a White House Farmer
Photo by: Dorothea Lange, 1936. See larger image here.
Title from that time: “Homegrown food is homegrown wealth. The foresighted farmer makes a garden plan showing what to plant, when to plant, and when to make second plantings. The plan shows how to cultivate and keep the garden free of weeds, and what poison spray to use to kill the insects that might eat up the vegetables. A garden is meant to feed the family, not the bugs and worms.”
Farmer in Chief
By Michael Pollan
New York Times October 9, 2008
This new post (White House Farmer) would be charged with implementing what could turn out to be your most symbolically resonant step in building a new American food culture. And that is this: tear out five prime south-facing acres of the White House lawn and plant in their place an organic fruit and vegetable garden.
The president should throw his support behind a new Victory Garden movement, this one seeking “victory” over three critical challenges we face today: high food prices, poor diets and a sedentary population.
Eating from this, the shortest food chain of all, offers anyone with a patch of land a way to reduce their fossil-fuel consumption and help fight climate change. (We should offer grants to cities to build allotment gardens for people without access to land.) Just as important, Victory Gardens offer a way to enlist Americans, in body as well as mind, in the work of feeding themselves and changing the food system — something more ennobling, surely, than merely asking them to shop a little differently.
I don’t need to tell you that ripping out even a section of the White House lawn will be controversial: Americans love their lawns, and the South Lawn is one of the most beautiful in the country. But imagine all the energy, water and petrochemicals it takes to make it that way. (Even for the purposes of this memo, the White House would not disclose its lawn-care regimen.) Yet as deeply as Americans feel about their lawns, the agrarian ideal runs deeper still, and making this particular plot of American land productive, especially if the First Family gets out there and pulls weeds now and again, will provide an image even more stirring than that of a pretty lawn: the image of stewardship of the land, of self-reliance and of making the most of local sunlight to feed one’s family and community. The fact that surplus produce from the South Lawn Victory Garden (and there will be literally tons of it) will be offered to regional food banks will make its own eloquent statement.
Also see – A ‘Farmer-in-Chief?’ – Time’s Never Been Riper
For Release Sunday, October 26, 2008
© 2008 Washington Post Writers Group
By Neal Peirce