Thursday, April 16, 2009

Michelle Obama's Victory Garden

During World War II, in an effort to bolster the homefront, American citizens were encouraged to plant "Victory Gardens."

These were plots of land, large or small, used to grow fruits and vegetables.

As food supplies were being sent to it's soldiers overseas and basic food commodities like milk, eggs and butter, were being rationed at home, the government asked it's people to grow their own fresh produce.

The response of the people was overwhelming.

Inspired by the first lady, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, who planted a "victory garden" on the White House lawn, nearly 20 million Americans, moved by patriotic fervor, began planting vegetables wherever they could find space. Backyards, empty lots and even city rooftops were converted into vegetable gardens.

The results?

Fruit and vegetables harvested in these home and community plots was estimated to be 9-10 million tons, an amount equal to all commercial production of fresh vegetables.

The program boasted morale, drew the people together in a common cause, and gave everyone a sense of pride, that they too were making a meaningful contribution to the war effort.

Unfortunately, when the war ended in 1946, most Americans forego their gardens and returned to their former ways.

Michelle Obama's recent decision to plant a "victory vegetable garden" on the White House lawn is also intended to mobilize and inspire Americans. Her intentions, however, are different than those of Mrs. Roosevelt.

America today is engaged in a different type of war. We may say the U.S. is battling on two separate fronts.

Mrs. Obama's first goal is to teach Americans, children and adults alike, the importance of eating locally grown, organic whole foods. We have gotten away from the basics of sound nutrition.

One of the leading causes of disease in the U.S. today is obesity. It's common even amongst children.

Cancer and heart disease, which account for 90% of deaths in America, are caused, in most cases, by a deficiency of fruits and vegetables in our diets.

When we add in a sedentary lifestyle and the consumption of animal and refined foods, we are digging our graves with our forks and knives.

Michelle Obama, has taken a brave step in trying to educate America on the need to eat right.

The second front we are presently fighting is the downward spiral of the world economy.

Mrs. Obama is showing us a way, by growing our own food, to save money and create a sustainable lifestyle. Local, affordable, nutritious food should be the right of everyone and not just the privilege of a few.

Hopefully Americans will take Mrs. Obama's message to heart and follow her example.

Though the danger facing America today is less immediate than it was in 1944, it is no less grave. In many ways it is even more threatening.

By planting vegetable gardens, each of us is making a personal and public statement, that we are committed to a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle, that will preserve us and our children in the years to come.

Hopefully, Americans will rally around Mrs. Obama's call to action as they did for Eleanor Roosevelt in 1944. For only by doing so, can we assure our future.


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