“Yay for Vegetables!” — First Lady Drops by New DC Farmers’ Market to Buy Produce, Promote Healthy Eating

Sep 17, 2009 5:58pm

ABC News’ Karen Travers reports: As part of her continuing efforts to promote healthy eating and living habits, First Lady Michelle Obama dropped by the grand opening of the FRESHFARM Farmers’ Market, just a block away from the White House “I have never seen so many people so excited about fruits and vegetables,” she said to a couple hundred people who gathered in the rain at the market. “Yay for vegetables!” Earlier this year Mrs. Obama started a garden on the White House grounds as a way to educate kids across the nation about healthy eating. Today she said she the garden has grown beyond what she could have imagined – and is even a hot topic outside of Washington.  “When I travel around the world, no matter where I’ve gone so far, the first thing world leaders, prime ministers, kings, queens ask me about is the White House garden.  And then they ask about Bo,” the first lady said, referring to the First Family’s pet dog. “Everybody, it’s the garden and Bo, or Bo and the garden, one or the other.” Farmers’ markets and the White House garden play a key role in larger discussions about the nation’s health problems, Mrs. Obama said. “They make us think about these issues in a way that maybe sometimes the policy conversations don’t allow us to think.” Tomorrow Mrs. Obama will jump into the health care policy conversation when she holds an event featuring women and their families who have had problems with their health care. But at the farmers’ market Mrs. Obama spoke as a working mom who in the past found it hard to put together healthy meals. “Takeout food was a primary part of our diet. It was quick. It was easy,” she said to knowing laughter. “We did what was easiest and what kids liked, because you didn’t want to hear them whining…We’re just trying to end the whining.” Mrs. Obama said that farmers’ markets can be an “important, valuable resource” for families who want to eat well, have limited time and may not have access to fresh food. The first lady said she wanted to make it clear that fresh produce is not just something for wealthy people, noting that farmer’s markets in Washington participate in several government programs that provide aid to low income families like the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). She said every WIC and SNAP dollar equals two dollars at a farmers’ market. “So if you know people who have access to these benefits, they should understand that these farmers’ markets are there for them as well,” she said. “And there is an incentive for them to use and buy their fruits and vegetables here.  So we want to get that word out.” After addressing the crowd of several hundred, the first lady did a little shopping, perusing the rows of vegetables and fruits that came mainly from local Virginia and Maryland farms and putting her items into a straw shopping bag. What might end up on the family dinner table tonight at the White House? Mrs. Obama purchased black kale, eggs, cherry tomatoes, mixed hot peppers, fingerling potatoes, cheese and chocolate milk. Someone in the crowd urged Mrs. Obama “Don’t forget the brussel sprouts!” “I don’t know if the president likes brussel sprouts,” she replied. President Obama spoke about the plans for a farmer’s market near the White House when he went to the DNC to talk about health care last month. “One of the things that we’re trying to do now is to figure out, can we get a little farmer’s market outside of the White House — I’m not going to have all y’all just tromping around – but right outside the White House so that we can — and that is a win-win situation,” the president said to laughter. Obama said the farmer’s market would give Washington “more access to good, fresh food” and could be “an enormous potential revenue maker for local farmers in the area.” -Karen Travers

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