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Interview With Daniel Bowman Simon

November 6, 2008

Now that Obama is safely in the white house, it’s time to force him to put an organic farm on the white house green, which is exactly what Daniel Bowman Simon of the WHOFarm is trying to get done. I had the chance to ask him a few questions.

Why should the next president plant an organic farm on The White House grounds?
We need a healthy President.  And we need our leaders to lead by good example.There is no telling how many people Obama might inspire to grow some of their own food.  Or do more to support their local farmers. Also, we want President-elect Obama to be a strong advocate for good food policy in this country.  It will certainly help if he is an expert on good healthy homegrown food.  Living the experience is the greatest hope of turning Obama into an expert.  By no means are we requesting him to spend all his time in the field, but from time to time, I’m sure he’ll get his fingers dirty.  And he’ll learn a lot by osmosis. There is a great historical precedent for growing food at The White House. It’s high time to honor folks like Thomas Jefferson and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Is Obama likely to do that?
The quote at the top of Obama’s website is “I’m asking you to believe NOT in my ability to bring about real change in Washington. I’m asking you to believe in yours.”  Eleanor Roosevelt said “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”  A lot of people seem to be dreaming of an healthy homegrown food growing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  And let me tell ya, it’s a beautiful sight to see. Lots of people have been talking about Michael Pollan’s recent open letter to our next President.  He joined our call and recommended five acres of the South Lawn be planted with organic fruits and veggies. And Obama brought up Pollan’s letter (although not the specific South Lawn recommendation) in an interview with Joe Klein for Time Magazine. So, the thought has definitely crossed his mind.

Why wouldn’t the next president plant an organic farm at The White House?
Some people give a good chuckle when we ask them to sign our petition. One woman, on her way to shop at the Santa Cruz Farmers’ Market, told us that she didn’t have space in her brain for our idea. but logically, I really can’t think of a single reason why not to plant an Organic Farm at the White House.  Michael Pollan postulated that there might be an uproar from American lawn lovers.  He was pleased to hear we hadn’t heard such a protest anywhere on our journey across this big country.  So long as Obama doesn’t force anyone to turn their own lawn into an organic farm, I can’t imagine he’ll have a problem.

Why don’t the candidates talk more about food issues?
Nobody asks them to.  And by “nobody,” I mean nobody in the media. And the media  doesn’t ask because they, like the large majority of us, are not really connected to our food anymore.  Which is exactly why he needs an organic farm at his residence…to reconnect the President…who might just be the best bet to reconnect our nation.

What’s more important – that food be delicious or environmentally responsible?
Is that a trick question?  For me, the most delicious food is that healthy homegrown grub.  Try it, you’ll agree!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Erynn permalink
    November 7, 2008 4:48 am

    I imagine that the White House grounds are and have been treated with chemical pesticides and fertilizers for years now. Making them “organic” would be an effort of five to ten years, wouldn’t it? Even if Obama did plant a garden, it wouldn’t be certifiably organic for quite some time to come.

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