White House Kitchen Garden

Will Trump Bulldoze the White House Vegetable Garden?

A certain amount of angst is bubbling up around the subject of food policy under President-elect Donald Trump. That angst crystallizes in speculation about the possibility that Trump would bulldoze the White House vegetable garden. But beyond that symbolic question, many nitty gritty policy details will tell the full story.

Certainly, plowing under the vegetable garden would be a potent (and one might say petty) way to send a clear signal about extinguishing the Let’s Move! campaign. The campaign has been a smart and broadly popular signature effort by First Lady Michelle Obama to inspire healthful food and active lives for America’s families. She has in fact worked closely with the food industry to gain their participation in her movement. That aspect of Let’s Move! hasn’t thrilled the big food haters, but it has ensured much progress over the last eight years.

Slightly less popular was the introduction of higher nutrition standards for food served in U.S. schools. While you might think that the idea of requiring food at school to be nutritious would not be controversial, the frozen pizza lobby was not so happy. So PR controversy machines churned out stories about the food police at school and wasted fruits and veggies. Despite this artificial grass-roots effort, the standards have held until now.

But some food activists are forecasting apocalypse under fast food fan Trump. The Huffington Post says “Donald Trump is terrible news for our food system.” Having a pizza and soda lobbyist – Michael Torrey – in charge of the transition team for food policy leaves them worried.

Michelle Obama planned ahead. Well before the election, she fortified the legacy of her beloved kitchen garden with steel, concrete, and currency. Steel and concrete features added to the garden this fall have made it as permanent as anything in Washington can be. A 2.5 million dollar gift from the Burpee seed foundation to the National Park Foundation helps ensure maintenance of the garden for decades to come.

One step forward, two steps back. Don’t trouble trouble ’til trouble troubles you.

Click herehere, here, here, and here for more hand wringing about food policy under President-elect Trump.

White House Kitchen Garden, photograph © angela n / flickr

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November 18, 2016

One Response to “Will Trump Bulldoze the White House Vegetable Garden?”

  1. November 18, 2016 at 7:35 am, Al Lewis said:

    Those with long memories may recall that Reagan did the same thing with Carter’s solar energy panels. The symbolism was the same, but the difference was that Reagan had a point, narrowly speaking, that at the time it cost much more to operate those panels than they were worth.

    While the symbolism is the same this time around, the economics are the reverse: it is clearly cost-effective to tend a vegetable garden and would be quite costly to bulldoze it.

    This will be a test of how much influence Big Food has at the White House, to convince them to do something that is really stupid along multiple dimensions.