The First Lady's Agenda: Healthy Living

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Historically, first ladies have had their own agendas and things they want to promote while their husbands are in office. For example, Laura Bush championed America's libraries and Hilary Clinton focused on health care reform. One of Michelle Obama's agendas is a focus on healthy living. She believes that fresh and nutritious foods shouldn't just be a luxury for those who can afford them, but rather they should be a staple of every American's diet.

Mrs. Obama is promoting community vegetable gardens and locally grown foods. She's discussing the kinds of healthy dishes White House chefs are preparing for guests and even her own children, since the White House gets fresh fruits and vegetables from farms in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Last week Mrs. Obama helped serve food at a soup kitchen in Washington that serves only fresh food. Her message was clear: regardless of income level, everyone deserves access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Mrs. Obama has publicly discussed her and the president's fitness regime and changes to their family's eating habits over the past few years. Although she promotes healthy living, she also lives by the idea of "everything in moderation." She's been known to eat fast food from time to time and feels that it's fine to eat the things you love- within reason. She feels this attitude works well her for family, and also makes them easier for the average American family to relate to.

What do you think about this agenda? Do you think Mrs. Obama's focus on healthy living will make an impact on American families and help people gain better access to quality food? What kind of hurdles do you see (or have you encountered in your own life) when trying to provide fresh and unprocessed foods for all?

UPDATE: The First Lady broke ground on a White House organic garden on March 20!

Photo: PRPhotos
Let's refrain from discussing politics in the comments and focus on the issue of the availability of healthy foods. If you'd like to further discuss politics, you can visit the SparkPeople Cafe or an appropriate Team.

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


I will leave it at this: It's important to be a good role model about eating. We can't FORCE it on people. But if we are a good example showing the good benefits received, others will have something to compare with when they see the results of a BAD example. Report
I think the First Lady's efforts are important and hope that people will follow her example in growing their own food, especially involving their children in it so they can learn about real food. Healthy, fresh produce is expensive compared to all the processed unhealthy foods which is a shame. Growing your own food is a great option and probably the most affordable. Other good options are food co-ops and farmers markets. Unfortunately our local farmers market is not any more affordable than the supermarkets are, but at least I know who grows my food, how it is grown, and that it is locally grown which means it is fresh. I cannot wait to start my container garden this year. I am actually currently listening to the audiobook of Mrs. Obama, "American Grown", on my commute to work (got it from the library). I find it inspiring, encouraging, and helpful for someone like me who has been thinking about growing their own food but has been hesitant (largely due to the hot and dry Texas climate I live in). There are tons of resources out there for beginner gardeners, be it at the library or online. I would join a community garden if there was one nearby. If you have one nearby, I encourage you to check it out. Even if you have never grown anything before, I bet that in a community garden you will find plenty of experienced gardeners willing to share their lessons learned. Report
:) Report
Our nation has a serious problem with eating the food groups, particularly the veggies. She has helped small grocery stores break ground so that fresh food is available to inner cities in addition to awareness on eating right, how can this be bad in any perspective? I admire her healthy focus & she can come into my kitchen any time she likes! Report
With all due respect to our First Lady, please stay out of my kitchen (or my grocery store for that matter). I do not need you or our government to tell me to eat my vegetables. Report
This is a worthy goal. She has the platform. I wish her well particularly for the folks who do have limited access to quality fruits and vegetables. Report
Thank you to our First Lady Mrs. Michelle Obama for making the availability of healthy foods and gardening more of a prominent issue.

I am currently growing my first garden and have already harvested fresh cilantro for my salad greens:)

Fresh produce has a much fuller and richer taste. These fresh products should be available in all communities.

Community gardens are in many cities. We can grow our own gardens and share this experience or volunteer at a local community garden.

Fresh and organic produce leads to healthy bodies and minds! Report
First I have to say, I LOVED the comment about "With a garden on the White House lawn, they could feed half of DC!" That was terrific! And I too applaud her efforts. I really hope this idea takes root. (Yes, pun intended!) Report
The first lady is in great shape and obviously takes great care of herself. I love her idea of promoting gardens and nutritional health. She has a huge job in front of her. Junk food is too easy to come by and fruit for the most part is expensive. That, however; brings me to another point. The other day, I purchased a bag of black cherries $2.99/lb. At just a tad under 2 pounds, I paid about 5.25. Even the cashier winced.....but - I told her I'd rather spend $5 on healthy fruit than a gallon of icecream and regret it later. My hat goes off to the first lady. She's working on something WE can help control ourselves. Report
It will make a difference for those who are interested in bettering their health. And one has to start somewhere. I recently came across a government web site that helps for healthy eating also. About time.
She start at home instead of with the nations....her husband was recently photographed eating two chili dogs. Report
I was definitely affected by the First Lady's idea. We started our own backyard veggie garden in the city!!!!! Report
I would like to believe that people will follow the example set by the President and First Lady, but it's highly doubtful! The ruckus that was raised by her previous recommendations shows how little importance most make of eating healthy. I do however disagree with the First Lady in terms of eating the things you love--in moderation...most people don't understand what a serving is, and if it's a food we love, it's often difficult to stop at one serving. Additionally, these foods are the reason we've become an obese nation in the first place and continuing to eat them even in smaller doses, will not make us healthier, leaner maybe, but skinny fat isn't any better than obesity. Report
I agree it would be nice if fresh fruit and vegetables were more affordable. Report
I love what she is trying to do. She definitely sets a good example by eating healthy and being active herself. In the last couple years, even in the smaller town that I am living in, I have noticed that a community garden has been started up, and more and more people are attending the farmer's market in the summer and fall. In fact, I think that the market has become so popular in the last few years, they need to find a new place for it, because they don't have enough room.
I think one thing that has really changed since around the 50s and such is that people don't cook anymore. It's either fast food or prepackaged stuff you throw in the oven or microwave. It's less hassle and usually cheaper. People are too busy to sit down at a table and eat homemade food. Unfortunately, we are paying for it with our health. Report
I love with Mrs. Obama is doing promoting healthy living. Growing a garden is a great thing, and is much cheaper then shopping at whole foods, which can be pretty expensive to me. Report
I applaud First Lady Obama for promoting health and nutrition. THanks for looking out for the well-being of Americans' health!!!! Report
Healthy food choices as a national priority is a wonderful cause to support! Report
I think its a wonderful concept! I really think fresh fruits and veggies shouldn't cost as much as they do either, wonder if they can do anything about that? Report
I am very happy that she is promoting healthy eating, and I am sure that there will be some who will make healthier choices because of her initiative. However, for those who are on a tight budget, eating healthy isn't always easy because it's not as affordable as eating junk. I guess at some point you'll have to "pay" for poor food choices anyway. Report
Good idea on paper, but realistically, not many can grow all their own veggies in little pots around their apt. or yard. If the whole country suddenly went vegetarian, there would be rioting in the streets because of not enough to go around. The US already imports tons of veggies from other countries as it is, and many people don't even eat the "five a day" that is recommended now, just think what would happen if we all decided to eat only veggies?? Have to get rid of half the world's population first, who will be the first to go?? Report
I think she has set a wonderful example for being healthy. I'm hoping more people ;put in gardens in the future. Report
Very interesting...

[edited to respect the author's wishes about political discussion, which I hadn't seen prior to posting. Apologies...] Report
I am happy to see someone finally promote eating real food. I've enjoyed reading the comments. I've found that cooking at home with mostly organic foods is not proven to be a financial burden for me. Planning meals in advance and healthy portions have made a huge impact on my food budget. I think most of the costs of food are a reflection of high energy costs at all levels in the economy. If we subsidized fruits and vegetables as we do other food crops that would likely narrow the price disparities that many people worry about when shopping for produce. Report
There are so many ways to grow your own including using plastic bottles hanging in you apartment windows. I found it just buy looking up gardening info Report
The one thing that I think her push for healthier eating is going to positively influence is the lunches our children receive at school. I know that the government is changing the school lunch requirements to include healthier selections and change some of the options for servings of fruits and vegetables. With the childhood obesity issues that we as a nation are faced with, I think it is a step in the right direction. Thank you First Lady for making this issue more prominent, and taking a step for positive change. Report
we need to show the children that food can be delicous and fresh food from the garden is far better then canned . vegetables are really good . make a child see that this is how it looks straight from the garden and this is how to cook this vegeatble . get your hands dirty dig plant a garden . grow some food . Report
An organic garden at the White House--how cool! :) Report
The First Lady has had to make some huge changes in her life to accomodate her husbands aspirations. I applaud thier focus on their family and her bringing to the forefront the needs of a healthy family. She is a courageous strong woman, what a fine role model. Report
Healthy living is something that most people aspire to do. The Obamas are a young family in the public eye, and the first lady is a great role model for healthy living - even with a hectic lifestyle. Report
Go Michelle! Her youth, energy and excellent example should inspire us all. The goals she's set for us require change, but are definitely obtainable.
Lady Bird Johnson's Beautiful America program made a great impact on our nation and I hope Michelle Obama's Healthy Living agenda will help our nation, too. Next time you are out for a walk and see areas of wildflowers and native vegetation, you can thank Lady Bird and Michelle for the beauty and the exercise. Report
GO FIRST LADY!!!! 20 years ago I started gardens in Covington Louisiana.With the help of everyone,from the mayor, the 3 churches,and every one in the neighborhood, we fed our people,poor and rich,for 15 years.IT CAN BE DONE!! Report
Go Michelle O! My parents always said, "Your health is the most important thing." It's true. What can you do in poor health? I hope it catches on! For the holidays, we sponsored a family and I gave a gift card to a grocery store, with a note: "For fresh fruit, veggies, and lean meat and dairy." The kids need more than canned foods and cereal. Report
I think this is great what the 1st Lady is doing. If only we could add fitness to the equation. Kids now, spend less time in gym class and their exam is a written test, not a physical one that we and our parents did. My former highschool has since cut out home ec. Report
I think it's a great idea Report
Way to go Michelle Obama! Leading by example is a GOOD thing. Report
I am so glad our first lady is reaching out to others - for a long time, I have hoped that lower income families would be able to afford fresh produce! Great news! Report
I believe the best teachers lead by example, and Michelle Obama exemplifies this. (I'd love to have her beautifully sculpted arms, too!) Report
I am glad the First Lady is fighting for fresh fruits and vegetables for a healthier country. Train Up a Child...............I'd love to see more healthy foods in our schools and at home affordable for all. Report
Cost is a big issue. Every time I notice (or hear someone else observe) that processed crap is cheaper than real fresh food, I am struck that fixing that wouldn't mean lowering the cost of fresh food - I think it means ending a lot of the subsidies that keep processed stuff so cheap. I don't want to be insensitive to working class Americans who really struggle to put enough food on the table, but as a country, we spend a much smaller fraction of our incomes on food now than we did 50 years ago (only about half as much!). I think our priorities are screwed up - what's more important than food? People like me who have incomes near or above the national median (around $50,000, according to the 2007 statistical abstract from the census bureau) should be investing more of our incomes into sustainably grown food, because that helps bring the price down and availability up for people who are less financially privileged. Report
I live on a MIchigan farm, and I can tell you why some of the expense. It costs so much for the farmers to plant and maintain and if their lucky, the crops don't freeze. Then if we don't get hail from one of our summer storms, and the birds, deer and insects don't demolish the crop, then we can pay the workers minimum wage to harvest the crop. Of course we have laws and specific regulations that need to be followed which means we need a middle man to keep us out of trouble with the government, Plus we need to maintain the equipment needed to harvest and maintain the crops during growing season. So by the time you finish the harvest each apple, peach, grape whatever costs about $56.29 (don't know the real expense this is an exaggeration). Oh plus you gotta remember the price of gas and insurance. This is United States fruit just think of the cost to export from Chile, Peru and the other countries. I totally agree about the community gardens but I have seen them cause problems too. People taking more than their share or people wanting a different type of vegetable. I think it's a great concept but not very realistic from my experience. Hopefully you others have had different experiences and this can become a reality! Report
I would love to see this work! I wish we had a community garden. When my sister lived in NY she belonged to a co-op and received different fresh veggies every week. We have some Farmer's markets here in Houston but they are so expensive and few and far between. I am all for everyone having access to fruits and vegetables. When you eat better you feel better and when you feel better you work better and are a better asset to society. Report
My sister lives in Germany and community gardens are very popular there. She loves participating in it and gets her whole family involved. You can choose to have a flower or vegetable garden, or have both. They offer greenhouse spaces as well so you can keep growing fresh vegetables all year long. You simply pay a small fee for renting the space and the grow whatever it is you want to grow.
Gardener's classes and seminars are also a very popular thing and majority of them are offered free of charge. The government there really cares about educating the people about healthier living because at the end of the day absolutely everyone benefits from it. Report
The first lady has a big job ahead of her. Even if fresh food is accessible to everyone, our country will need an attitude change. I hope that the healthy example set by the Obama family will inspire people to get moving and make better choices. Report
We do need better food grown in this country and a way of regulating it to keep all the pesticides and chemicals out of it. I agree with a lot of the posts that it is more expensive to eat healthy. I shop the Farmers Markets as much as possible. Report
While I definitely don't agree with the Obama's on most issues, this one I can get behind. I think any efforts made to lower the cost and increase the abundance of healthy fruits and veggies to everyone is great. Worthwhile cause. Report
What is overly sad is that in shopping at the grocery store last Sat. night I picked up One gallon of milk, a head of lettuce, 3 on the vine tomatoes, a cucumber, 2 heads of cabbage, 3 rounds of broccolli, 5 pears, a bag of grapes, 2 packages of fresh strawberries, 9 bananas, 2 avacados and a bag of apples and the total cost was $56.89, how sad is that when we can not afford to even eat fruits and veggies in this country. Natural foods are more expensive than processed, why? Someone please answer that question, this has been a subject of discussion for years and until recently, until the Obama's came along no one has ever done a thing about it. Report
Have you heard of the Good & the Bad dog? Has the wool ever been pulled over our eye's before? I know it has mine: I used to think that everything found in a health food store was healthy for you.

Do you check labels to make sure you are getting the best possible food available? My husband & I do, because we are on the same page!! As health nuts, shouldn't we all be concerned what we are eating?

Have you ever wondered why are the ingredients on labels getting smaller? I suppose they do not have all the ingredients listed? It may be that they are doing away with labels in the near future? Would it be better if we didn't know what is in our foods? What about the chemicals in the fruits & vegetables? They are meant to harm the bad bugs, but how about the "We The People." Can you really wash off the pestiside's & expect to eat healthy? Is the vitamins in our fruits & vegetables depleting?

Can we still manage to eat healthy? If so, to what degree?
Can we afford to eat healthy? If so, what will it cost us? Report
Has anyone mentioned "BALE GARDENING"? Look this up on internet and see how successful it can be on a very small plot of ground, for apartment dwellers, etc. A man near us has a big bale garden and is very helpful in getting others started. Report
Close email sign up
Our best articles, delivered Join the millions of people already subscribed Get a weekly summary of our diet and fitness advice We will never sell, rent or redistribute your email address.

Magic Link Sent!

A magic link was sent to Click on that link to login. The link is only good for 24 hours.