For me, planting a garden was a way to help start a national conversation about the health of our children, an issue I care deeply about, not just as First Lady but as a mother. - p. 213 of American Grown
This is not a book about politics. I just want to clear that up off the bat. Just because I'm reviewing and praising a book written by Michelle Obama does not mean I'm using my blog to endorse any sort of political platform.
Then again, in a way, maybe I am. I think Michelle Obama's message and mission for making healthy food more accessible to all Americans is a necessary one. Obesity and the afflictions that accompany it like type 2 diabetes and heart disease are running rampant through our nation. So much of that has to do with the food we are putting in our bodies. In many underprivileged communities throughout the country, residents don't have access to fresh produce and even if they do, many assume they can't afford it. So they rely on the convenience foods and fast food restaurants that seem to permeate underprivileged neighborhoods to sustain their diets.
So Michelle Obama began her mission to make a healthier nation very simply: by planting a garden on the White House's South Lawn. You might wonder how a simple garden can change a nation's eating habits, but with some seeds and some dirt, she was able to start a conversation. Students and organizations came to volunteer in the garden and kids started to show curiosity about the food coming out of the ground that they were helping to plant and harvest. My biggest takeaway from this book was the need for a sense of ownership in knowing where your food comes from. Kids are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables if they are helping to see them grow and flourish.
This book is organized by seasons and shows the plans for what was planted in the garden each season, along with accompanying stories about the positive change the garden has made in the surrounding communities along with around the country. There are vibrant, colorful pictures all throughout the book of garden harvests and faces of excited kids pitching in with garden maintenance. Mrs. Obama also shares the learning curve that came with planting the garden. Even though the White House has a team of landscapers, the plantings were not all successes and she shares with her readers what worked and what didn't.
The last section of the book gives a few recipes inspired by the bounty of the White House garden. The recipes section is very small, so if you buy this book or check it out from the library expecting it to be a cookbook, you will be sadly disappointed. American Grown is what it says it is in the subtitle: the story of the White House kitchen garden and gardens across America. After reading this book, you will be hard pressed not to feel inspired to plant your own garden or help out at a local community garden.
American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America by Michelle Obama
Published: May 27, 2012
Disclosure: Book checked out from the library