Photo Credit: Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Michelle Obama isn’t exactly making first lady history with the debut of her book, American Grown: The Story of The White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America. It’s become something of a tradition for first ladies to join the ranks of published authors, and at least one such work, Hillary Clinton’s book, It Takes a Village, got just as much attention.
Hillary's book, like Michelle's, took a candid look at a first lady’s pet project. For Hillary, it was raising children; for Michelle it has always been about food and health. With her "Let’s Move!" campaign largely heralded a success, the White House kitchen garden -- with its accompanying honey bees attracting global attention -- and her approval ratings consistently higher than her husband’s, now was as good a time as any for her to keep the ball rolling.
The almost 300-page book tells the story of how a Chicago kid turned working mother came to turn up a patch of D.C. soil in the hope of beginning a national conversation about healthy eating. It's interesting that it's hitting the book store shelves just as things are beginning to heat up in the race for November’s general election. Peppered with political gardening trivia -- John Adams planted the first White House vegetable garden, for instance -- American Grown weaves gardening tips with bits and pieces of Mrs. Obama’s personal history and lays out a few of her hopes for the future, calling the raised beds on the south lawn at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue “an expression of my hopes.”
Of course, with a team of gardeners at her disposal, it’s no wonder there were plenty of perfectly beautiful vegetables to feature in glossy, high-color photos throughout the book. What remains to be seen is whether or not Mrs. Obama realizes how impractical her blueprint for healthy food really is or how much her book is a dig at those who do the real feeding of America.
Michelle and her garden are more Martha Stewart than Main Street American farmer and after her husband’s administration waged an unsuccessful war on the latter earlier this year, it may not be the wisest time to undermine their efforts yet again.