We already know that Barack Obama will be one of the more health-conscious Presidents (with regards to food and exercise) when he assumes office in a few weeks — but how about past American leaders? Turns out that both Clinton and Bush dined on organic and local fare long before it was “hip” to do so. In a recent letter to the NY Times, the former executive chef to the White House from 1994-2005, Walter Scheib, revealed that the most famous residence in the world even has a rooftop garden. From his letter,
From 1994 to 2005 I was the executive chef at the White House. This offered me not only the personal honor of serving two unique and interesting first families, but the professional challenge of fulfilling Hillary Clinton’s mandate of bringing contemporary American cuisine and nutritionally responsible food to the White House. This meant that nearly all the product used was obtained from local growers and suppliers. There was a small garden on the roof of the White House where produce was grown.
The ethic of the purchasing and the cooking at the White House under my direction and under the continuing direction of Cris Comerford is one of respect for the pedigree of the product and manner it is grown, gathered, raised or caught. The Clinton and Bush families dined regularly on organic foods. Both wagyu and grass-fed beef were frequently used.
Should be interesting to see if Obama takes this a step further. Writer Michael Pollan has suggested a five-acre fruit and vegetable garden for the White House. There’s even a activist website called EatTheView run by Kitchen Gardners International urging Obama to get out a shovel and inspire people to grow their own food.
Sure would beat having just a small rooftop garden — especially with all of the property the White House could use for cultivation. What do you think?