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What Will It Take for America to Eat Its Vegetables?

First lady Michele Obama has written a new gardening book. Called "American Grown," the book extols the virtues of sustainable local agriculture, school gardens and childhood nutrition.

What’s the Latest Development?

First lady Michelle Obama’s new book, “American Grown,” is another effort in her quest to make Americans more aware of the food they eat and help the nation shake its obesity epidemic. “Obesity rates have climbed dramatically over the past two to three decades. More than two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese. Almost a third of children are overweight or obese, and seven out of 10 overweight youths will become overweight or obese as adults, according to government data.” The center of her food manifesto has become the White House vegetable garden, where issues of sustainable local agriculture, national farm policy, school gardens and, most of all, childhood nutrition come to a head.

What’s the Big Idea?

Perhaps the most tragic effect of our nation’s nutrition ignorance is in our children’s schools. Fewer children than ever walk to school, physical education classes are being cut and kids constantly snack on sugary, energy-dense foods. Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, says: “Right now, the food environment is almost perfectly designed to make us fat. Eating well is like swimming upstream. You can do it but it takes a lot of effort.” Beyond the first lady’s personal quest, the government has a substantial financial interest in maintaining a healthy population. Health-care costs directly related to obesity have been estimated at as much as $150 billion annually. 

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