Eating out before he got the job. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty images
Since Obama took office and the family moved into the White House things have changed in the food and agriculture landscape in the U.S. of A. Let's review.A collective, "Oh No!" sprang from the keyboards of sustainable agriculture advocates with the appointment of Tom Vilsack as head of the USDA.The general feeling was that he was part of the old boys network, and it would be business as usual. But, the jeers turned to cheers fairly quickly as Vilsack established himself as a change maker. Add to that Michelle Obama's influence in and around the White House kitchen and the early hope that the country could be shifting towards, as Michael Pollan puts it, a sun-food agenda for agriculture.
Two of the most interesting developments of late are the appointment of Kathleen Merrigan as the #2 at the USDA, and the announcement that Obama wants to end direct subsidies to the nations largest farms. Merrigan has a long history of supporting sustainable agriculture practices and was one of Food Democracy Now's choices for just this position. And the big farms just plain don't need the subsidies.
Closer to home, the Obamas have been making changes at the white house as well. They managed to bring their personal chef, Sam Kass, with them from Chicago without ruffling too many feathers inside the White House kitchen. Kass is well versed in local, seasonal and healthy eating. Then there is talk that a White House garden will be ploughed and planted by sometime in the spring.
The latest news to hit the gossip circuit is that the Obama's are turning the White House organic. In his Washington Whispers column in the U.S. News and World Report, Paul Bedard serves up some quotes from White House food and beverage manager Daniel Shanks.
They talked to us about their vision. They are really excited about being able to show to the world that there's a better way in a positive, healthy manner. We need to eat better. We need to take care of the land.
In the piece Shanks talks about how difficult it was to source organic wines. Too bad he didn't have a chance to do a quick search on TreeHugger to find some organic wine options. While it may take a bit of a learning curve for all the fact that the 44th president and his family is so tuned into proper food choices is heartening. Change is finally a comin'.