Healthy food example set by White House

Since her husband took office, Mrs. Obama has been setting a wonderful example, encouraging healthy food options like fresh fruits and vegetables. The state dinner at the White House is a beautiful demonstration that food can be healthy as well as fancy!
Modern Flourishes at Obamas’ State Dinner in the New York Times leaves me hungry. How wonderful: “the meatless menu included a mix of Indian and American favorites, including some African-American standards. Collard greens and curried prawns, chickpeas and okra, nan and cornbread”. Sounds like a lot of agricultural biodiversity to me! Cheers to Mrs. Obama for continuing to encourage Americans to consider healthy food options by setting such an exquisite example.
For the full menu, see this official press release from the White House (pdf). For pictures, you must see the slide show at the Times – there are very few pictures of the event online.
Karl, you’ll be happy to hear that the pears served for dessert were poached in honey from the White House’s own beehive!

Written by Anastasia Bodnar

Anastasia Bodnar is a science communicator and science policy expert with a PhD in plant genetics and sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University. Anastasia has had various risk analysis roles in US government and military service. She serves as BFI's Director of Policy and as Co-Executive Editor of the Biofortified Blog.

10 comments

  1. I know you know, and I know I’m being annoying, but when exactly did the muscle tissue of crustaceans stop being meat? Prawns are almost always an ecological disaster on the same scale as CFO beef.

  2. Jeremy, you’re not being annoying. I just decided to not get into it on this one. Some people here in the midwest don’t put poultry or fish in the “meat” category, maybe this reporter is from the midwest.
    I went back to the press release to double check if they listed where the prawns were from, and it didn’t say, which is strange because I thought White House state dinner menus always said where the foods were from in the US. I did notice something on the menu that I’ve never heard of before. What’s salsify? According to Wikipedia, the taproot tastes like oysters. Cool. I want to taste it!
    The lack of location for the prawns is unfortunate, because where they’re from makes a big difference in sustainability. What do you think about aquaculture, particularly on land? I think there’s a lot of potential for these fast growing species to provide animal protein for those who demand it, but it hasn’t gone so well in implementation just yet.

  3. Ditto on the prawns-not-meat thing. And yes, shrimp boats can wreak havoc. I live in Texas, and you don’t want to swim in Galveston the day after the shrimp boats pass. The beach becomes a stinking mass of the rotting corpses of discarded fish. Ms. Bodnar seems to have it on the nose, but I would add that it’s not just where they’re from, but how they’re caught, raised, etc.

  4. Are invertebrates like prawns and crabs currently being cultured on land? If not is anyone looking into it?
    I know the on-land aquaculture of freshwater fish (specifically catfish and tilapia) are big success stories (it’s a shame the concept of farmed fish seems to be taking a hit in public perception based on examples like farmed salmon).

  5. Oh, I’ve heard of salsify. I’m not sure I’ve had any though. I know it was grown in the old New England gardens. If you go to this site they have various gardens, and in the Sherburne downloadable garden map pdf you can see salsify.
    http://www.strawberybanke.org/our-gardens/141.html
    You can visit their site and they have that stuff growing. I remember seeing it.

  6. Wow! I got all the way through that article, then hit the last sentence and had to read it a few more times to get what happened. Isn’t that theft? They could have hurt the bees! Or what if they got stung?

  7. They probably wore those big hazmat suits they wear everywhere. I still can’t wrap my head around why that was necessary – they could have just collected DNA from the pollen in the honey… why the theft?

  8. Anastasia, salsify is sometimes called vegetable oyster, though why is beyond me. I used to grow it, and it is very delicious. Beautiful flowers too.

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