President as Role Model For Positive Social Change?

I don’t normally like to use this blog as a soap box for contemporaneous political issues, but I saw the below comic by Jeff Stahler and could not resist the irony it pushes, and not so much as a polemic towards Obama, but as it contrasts the seriousness and trivialities of the President’s position in America. I think it was yesterday that I read in the NY times that Michelle Obama, working with local D.C. natural/sustainable/organic food mavens, was planning and preparing a garden on one of the White House’s lawns, much like Eleanor Roosevelt did back during the WWII years (some even say that if victory gardens were to be re-implemented today they could have a positive effect on climate change, the cost of energy, and health issues).

Planting a garden for the purpose of showing the ease and sustainability of eating healthy and earth consciously is quite commendable, and provides many Americans with positive image of sustainable agriculture, but if you were to ask for the opinion of D.C.’s largely poor and underprivileged African American population the response would probably be wide eyed stares. They would ask how gardening would help them get their jobs back. They would ask how gardening would un-foreclose on their houses. They would ask how gardening would be feasible in their soil-free apartment and tenement buildings. They would ask who really cares about gardening when the American economy is absolutely sloppy with white collar cheating and greed. They would ask how they are supposed to put staple foods on their tables, much less find a place to plant a garden, then take the time to grow vegetables all summer. This is not defeatist thinking though.

Obviously, corporations have had their fingers deeply interlaced with America’s food production for many many years, for so many years that culture has changed drastically enough that growing ones own food becomes an endeavor foreign and close to impossible for the majority of middle and lowercase income people around the U.S. People spend much more time commuting than their WWII contemporaries, who, incidentally, had the time and space to grow almost 50% of the nation’s agricultural needs.

Yes, Michelle’s idea is a good one. She is providing a model for people and a drastic contrast to the last dismal administration. Yes, her family will be enjoying the fruits and vegetables of their garden, which will show those who care, or more importantly care and have the ability and resources to grow a garden, that they too can grow their own food in a time of economic hardship. But deep down I am missing the point as to what this garden of hers is really supposed to represent and incite in the American people on the whole, because, really,  it’s the corporate world–the stimulus that originally alienated the masses from their gardens–that needs a serious weeding, and not the south lawn of the White House–and thus Stahler’s poignant cartoon.

This entry was posted in Commentary, Essay, Food, News, Politics.

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