Michelle Obama’s organic garden makes big agriculture shudder

michelle-obama-organic-gardenA proponent of healthy eating, The first lady wants to encourage Americans  to eat more healthfully.

The new organic garden at the White House is  intended to provide food for White House residents as well as help Americans understand local farming better .  The organic garden is reported to have arugula, cilantro, tomatilloes, hot peppers and other  herbs.

According to Colleen’s Organic Gardening Blog, Whatever the First Family does is considered fashionable and  fans of real food have been delighted by the White House garden, but the agricultural industry has not.  All of this positive PR for organics seems to be a little unsettling to Big Ag. So one group, the Mid America CropLife Association, has sent an email defending chemical ag to Mrs. Obama. 

In part, the letter says:

“As you go about planning and planting the White House garden, we respectfully encourage you to recognize the role conventional agriculture plays in the U.S in feeding the ever-increasing population, contributing to the U.S. economy and providing a safe and economical food supply. America’s farmers understand crop protection technologies are supported by sound scientific research and innovation.”

However, Mid America Crop Life didn’t just send the letter to Mrs. Obama, they also  sent it to hundreds of people who they thought would be sympathetic to their views. Except that to these people, they included an additional note:

“Did you hear the news? The White House is planning to have an “organic” garden on the grounds to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for the Obama’s and their guests.While a garden is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made Janet Braun, CropLife Ambassador Coordinator and I shudder. As a result, we sent a letter encouraging them to consider using crop protection products and to recognize the importance of agriculture to the entire U.S. economy.”


So, it seems organic gardens make Big Ag nervous or shudder. Why is that? maybe it is that as many of us already know, organic food production is growing rapidly and has reached a level of popularity, that is now competitive to big agriculture. For a long time Big Ag had a monopoly on food production in the US and now it is having to rethink some of is strategic planning and that means disruption. Disruption is always painful to large institutions, just look at the banking industry. That being said disruption often leads to innovation so we hope that the First Lady taking the step of putting in an organic garden at the White House is truly a sign that the tides are turning. 

You can see the full text of the letter at La Vida Locavore.

Posted on April 5, 2009, in Natural Farming, News and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Why must you politicize everything? Don’t you think that Big Ag would rather NOT have to pay for crop protection technology? The American consumer is already reeling from high food costs, imagine how much higher they will be if the entire industry were to go organic. There isn’t enough farm land currently available to support it.

  2. darnhotpeppers

    Dear chili Libre,

    I’m not sure what you mean by “Big Ag would rather NOT have to pay for crop protection technology” can you please explain?

    Also, in the previous post about Michelle Obama’s garden we we pointing out how a trend toward buying organic is something that is already happening and not slowing down even in these tough economic times. In addition, I’m not sure what your point is for “imagining how much higher food prices would be if the entire industry were to go organic”, I think most organic producers look at themselves as a part of the food industry and a growing point at that, but I’m curious as to why you are polarizing the discussion.

    have a lot of questions please write back.

  3. I, for one, think it is great to see the Obama’s taking the time to again show another way that we can all do a little more to help ourselves and those around us. Wouldn’t it be great to have your own source of fresh and guaranteed chemical free food on the corner of your neighborhood? Wide tracts of land are not increasing in our country and everywhere I look we seem to be replacing open fields with new rows of condos and sprawling subdivisions. Perhaps it is time to start reserving space by the locality for smaller scale growing and help reduce transportation costs by sustainable community planning? Just a thott…

  4. A garden is a great way for any family to get exercise and to do a sustained activity together. Believe me, it’s a continuous responsibility, but a glorius challenge to do an organic garden activity.

    The Obamas are setting a great example which every other family ( or individual) is free to emulate or not.

    I am a definite fan of “real food” and it is one way that anyone can “make a difference” as a positive impact on your own body. Whether you have a little or a lot more to do until you reach a particular weight / or fitness goal….. commiting to those first few steps is the right way to start!

  5. yes..its a great bonding for family and friends….and let us all wait for the result of what Ms. Obama doing…don’t let her criticize 1st…….

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