Thursday, January 15, 2009

Obamas: Make Our Lives Safer and Easier, Please

JessTrev's musing about the Obamas (Michelle, really) as she steers clear of the Inaugural Metro crushloads and hangs someplace warm with her kids to celebrate.

There are any number of items on the incoming President's agenda that matter to me. And, frankly, I've been loath to chime in with recommendations for the transition team since so many people are flocking to DC to weigh in with their ivory tower degrees and decades in the trenches. But Michelle Obama's unscripted comments about organic food during the campaign have had me musing about the ways in which this administration might change the perspective in Washington, and tilt it towards issues about which I am passionate.

Here's what Michelle had to say about feeding your kids to Lauren Collins in the New Yorker in March of '08:
“You know,” she said, “in my household, over the last year we have just shifted to organic for this very reason. I mean, I saw just a moment in my nine-year-old’s life—we have a good pediatrician, who is very focussed on childhood obesity, and there was a period where he was, like, ‘Mmm, she’s tipping the scale.’ So we started looking through our cabinets. . . . You know, you’ve got fast food on Saturday, a couple days a week you don’t get home. The leftovers, good, not the third day! . . . So that whole notion of cooking on Sunday is out. . . . And the notion of trying to think about a lunch every day! . . . So you grab the Lunchables, right? And the fruit-juice-box thing, and we think—we think—that’s juice. And you start reading the labels and you realize there’s high-fructose corn syrup in everything we’re eating. Every jelly, every juice. Everything that’s in a bottle or a package is like poison in a way that most people don’t even know. . . . Now we’re keeping, like, a bowl of fresh fruit in the house. But you have to go to the fruit stand a couple of times a week to keep that fruit fresh enough that a six-year-old—she’s not gonna eat the pruney grape, you know. At that point it’s, like, ‘Eww!’ She’s not gonna eat the brown banana or the shrivelledy-up things. It’s got to be fresh for them to want it. Who’s got time to go to the fruit stand? Who can afford it, first of all?”
Pretty much sums up many of the dilemmas I face as a parent. How can we all afford to feed our children fresh, healthy, nutritious food? And why is it that the supermarket is a minefield? I just hope that Michelle has a wake-up moment about the shampoo her kids are using and the water in which they will soon bathe. I'm not sure how we'll get to the end goal of being able to trust that our personal care products, food, and toys are safe, but it sure makes me happy to know that there may very soon be an occupant of the White House who's wondering the very same thing.

I'm dreaming of a city where I don't have to tote my Green Beauty Guide with its list of 100 toxins to avoid and my PDA hotlinked to Skin Deep and the EWG Dirty Dozen. I'm hoping and dreaming that the CSPIA won't have to shut down all the indy crafters to make sure I don't have lead paint in my kid's toys. And, of course, I'm hoping that I can stop emailing Trader Joe's to get them to stop suffocating cucumbers in plastic and styrofoam and Whole Foods to get them to sell anything besides stale granola in bulk. Not to mention, I'd like there to be less gratuitous plastic around so that I don't have to worry about nurdles while I consult my guide to leaching. Basically, Obamas? I'd like you to make it easier for my family to live my life safely and lightly on the planet. That's all.

P.S. Check out this roundup for the Green Moms Carnival members' takes on a Prevention Agenda for the Obama White House.


Crunchy Christian Mom said...

Hmm, safer and easier? If buying fresh fruit is a challenge for Michelle Obama, I'm not sure how she's going to make MY life any easier -- or that I even want her to.

A better life doesn't necessarily mean an "easier" life.

Green Bean said...

It will be nice to have someone in the White House who at least talks about the need for organic, about the not-so-great benefits of corn syrup and the hope for healthier food.

I do understand Crunchy Christian Mom's comment. It is pretty insane that Michelle cannot get her kids fresh fruit a few times a week but I do think many Americans experience that. A wise friend once told me - when I was all hot and bothered to turn the school hot lunch program into one that sold only local, organic food - that the way most of us (in the green blogosphere) eat is not the norm. Maybe the first step would be hormone free milk. Then fresh fruit. Then organic sometimes. And so on. I think it is a step in the right direction for all of America even if it is way behind the way many of us here eat.

Electronic Goose said...

"Basically, Obamas? I'd like you to make it easier for my family to live my life safely and lightly on the planet. That's all." <---YES. Yes, yes, yes, yes!

JessTrev said...

Crunchy Christian Mom -- better isn't always easier. But I don't necessarily view it as a virtue that I may spend time searching six stores to find tomato paste in a glass jar because I don't want to eat BPA in my canned goods. That's the kind of easy I want to sign up for -- and I think someone who's had an aha moment about HFCS is much more likely to think carefully about other environmental toxins.

GB - school lunch programs are a perfect example of what I hope the Obamas will impact. My school doesn't even have a kitchen much less a chef cooking up local and sustainable organic fare. But yes, I would love to have, step by step, the mainstream school lunch program more closely approximating the food I eat at home: hormone free grass fed milk/meat, fruits and veggies, healthy whole foods. And I would love for these things to be mainstream and easily accessible. Yep, I want it to be easy to allow my kid to get hot lunch.

EGoose :)

Susannah said...

One thing I like about Michelle Obama (and she has this in common with Barbara Bush) is that she talks like a regular person. Yes, they are First Ladies and in the top 1% financially in the U.S. But they still talked about life in a way that made it clear they understand The Juggle (whether that's work/home, organic/not, designer/off the rack). They are both people who have tried and failed to get a kid to eat a pruney grape.

Anonymous said...

According to - the CPSIA issue made the top 10 issues that will be presented to Mr. Obama (not sure when - a week or so?). I think if any member of Congress had actually READ this law, they would have had some serious concerns.

JessTrev said...

Susannah - yes, you articulate so well what I appreciate - the grasping by a person in power of The Juggle, as you so aptly put it.

Anon - agreed. If they'd read the law, much less listened to the hubbub over its unintended consequences online, it'd be hard to see them wanting to hinder a thriving marketplace in this economy.


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