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Who's afraid of the White House garden?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Special to Enviroblog by Amy Rosenthal, EWG's Farm & Food Outreach Coordinator.

Fresh fruits and vegetables for the First Family, school kids playing in the dirt at the White House. A reminder to Americans that food actually comes from the Earth - who's going to object to Michelle Obama planting a garden on the White House lawn?

Oh, that's right - big, conventional agribusiness. They're bent out of shape because the First Lady's garden is *shudder* organic.

That "shudder" is a direct quote from an email written by a Mid America CropLife Association spokesman: "the thought of [the White House garden] being organic made [us] shudder."

These worried agriculture trade organization officials (who happen to represent companies that produce pesticides) went on to write a letter to Michelle Obama about her garden. In it they make vague (and at some points disingenuous) claims about the importance of technology in farming, but entirely skirt the First Lady's choice not to use chemicals in her garden. The most direct reference to "organic" comes in this doozy of a sentence:

"Much of the food considered not wholesome or tasty is the result of how it is stored or prepared rather than how it is grown."

Wow - potentially "unwholesome" chemical residues on apples or carrots are the result of how they're prepared? Clearly they're not caused by any pesticides sprayed during the growing process. Thanks for clearing that one up, Big Ag!

Overall, the convoluted and evasive letter doesn't make much of a point beyond urging the First Lady to "consider the role conventional agriculture plays in the U.S." You mean the role of corporate agribusiness in sucking up government subsidies, contributing to climate change, poisoning air and water quality, and destroying American landscape? We can only hope she does consider it. --

Read the whole letter here (it's worth it).

Want to tell the pesticide peddlers you support Michelle Obama's organic garden? Click here to sign the CREDO Action petition.

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