First Lady Michelle Obama on the Joys of Gardening and American Grown

This interview was created in joint partnership with Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C. Politics & Prose is an independent bookstore in Washington, D.C., hosting more than 450 author events per year, as well as book club meetings, classes, and more. More information at Politics &

As a mother, Michelle Obama had become concerned about her children’s eating habits and the food she was preparing for their meals. As First Lady, she became increasingly aware of the rising obesity rate among children in the United States and the direct correlation between obesity rates and the lack of fresh vegetables and fruit in many American diets for both kids and adults.

As First Lady Obama discusses in this interview and her new book, American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America, a national dialogue has ensued. All across America, people are becoming more and more aware of the food they are eating and where it comes from. We, as a nation, have come full circle. Mrs. Obama states in her new book, American Grown, that her grandparents would buy their produce from a local farmer who would drive his truck through the south side of Chicago. Her mother’s family had a small plot of land on a city corner, in an alley, where they grew their own vegetables.

Urban dwellers and rural homes alike across the country are planting gardens on rooftops, empty lots, back gardens and even apartment balconies 30 stories up in the sky. Not only are we more aware of what we are putting into our bodies, but we have become mindful of the benefits of buying locally sourced, organic food. Mrs. Obama planted her White House vegetable garden in 2009. Not since the days of Eleanor Roosevelt has food grown on the White House grounds fed the President’s family.

“The truth is, the idea of the White House Garden is not unique. Community gardens are a mainstay in so many communities across this country from rural America to my neighborhood on the south side of Chicago…Community gardens are a significant part of the history of this country which is why we thought it was important to incorporate these stories into in the White House Garden story. The garden was really a way to begin the conversation about how we educate our children about the food they eat and how it impacts their body and how all of that affects their health.”

American Grown is a beautifully illustrated book that acts as a tutorial of sorts as it gives the reader helpful tips on planting, caring for & harvesting a bountiful garden. It’s broken up into seasons and as any farmer will tell you, it is the only way to think about and plan out a calendar year.



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