Are the White House Garden and Michelle Obama Just Smoke and Mirrors?

Posted on Mar 23 2011 - 2:36am by Mike Lieberman

When President Obama was campaigning in 2008, there was all this promise of “change”. That was the rallying cry “change.” Everyone jumped on board and was happy when he was voted in.

One of the first things that happened when he moved into office was his wife, Michelle, became the poster child for healthy living, especially for kids, with her Let’s Move program.

She also received and continues to receive a lot of press coverage from traditional media about the organic garden in the White House that she had created. She recently planted the third garden. Now she is coming out with a book on healthy food. It’s exactly what I want – a woman who joins forces with Walmart to tell me about healthy eating.

I mean this is awesome. We have a first lady that is promoting healthy living and organic gardening to the nation. Doesn’t get better than that does it?

At face value this might seem like the change that we were hoping for, but take a look at what her husband is doing such as appointing former Monsanto Executive Michael Taylor to the Food Czar role in the FDA and possibly being behind the push of GMO alfalfa.

So this gets me thinking.

Is she doing this because she believes in it?

Or is she doing it as a distraction while her husband does the dirty work behind the scenes and continues to undermine the American people and our food choices?

Every time she has one of these events based on the garden, traditional media outlets eat the shit up, but shy away from what her husband is doing.

She flashes her smile, takes a few pictures with some kids and a garden bed on the White House lawn and the world is a better place. To me it wreaks of a public relations cover-up and a photo-op. We need to look beyond the photo and look at what’s really happening to our food system and not be lulled by what she’s doing.

I don’t want to hear the she is an independent woman and can have varying views from her husband reason either. The opposing viewpoints of organic and GMO are like a Jew and a Nazi being partners.

Am I being a cynic by thinking this? Should we be happy that she is promoting organic gardening and healthy living? Or should we be outraged that she’s providing a decoy for her husband?


Photo courtesy of USDAGov

51 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Guest March 23, 2011 at 10:39 am -

    Yes you should be happy. And you should also stay away from nazi references unless ofcourse you are talking about nazis

  2. Mandymankins March 23, 2011 at 1:00 pm -

    I believe that Mrs. Obama does believe in what she’s doing. Some of the most influential people in history have been the advisor sitting next the to man in power, whispering in his ear, not the rioters in the street. Working from within the system is important. If nothing else, she’s exposing children to the ideas of organic gardening, and eating healthy. Can that really be bad?

  3. Kary March 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm -

    You make a good point. I am very angry with Obama and some of the choices he has made regarding MY food choices. It is extremely frustrasting.

    I never put the two together until I read your post – his choices and her organic garden. As for the comment about “stay away from the word Nazi”…please. I’m so tired of the uber-political correctness that is so much of today’s society. Write what you want.

  4. Leo March 23, 2011 at 1:34 pm -

    You’re insane! I mean it. I love what you promote with gardening and healthy eating and living… but this is really crazy. You’re reading WAAAAAY too far into things, so much so that you’re imagining things.

  5. Mike Lieberman March 23, 2011 at 1:52 pm -

    What are the reasons to be happy? The fact that her small garden is being planted while GMOs are being unleashed on the larger population?

  6. Mike Lieberman March 23, 2011 at 1:55 pm -

    I want to believe that, but I think there is also the reality of what’s going on. We need to be focus on the decisions that really matter and not be distracted by the pretty smile. The fact that GMOs and pesticides are being pushed through is disturbing and has much of of an effect on us than her small organic garden.

  7. Mike Lieberman March 23, 2011 at 1:56 pm -

    Please explain the craziness. I must be missing it.

  8. Mike Lieberman March 23, 2011 at 1:56 pm -

    Thanks for the comment. People get lulled into happiness pretty easily…

  9. Hibai Unzueta March 23, 2011 at 2:17 pm -

    Nice comment. I think you got that right, all you said. Perhaps the problem, not only with the U.S. but with the rest of the world, was that we put too much hope on the change that the new administration would be able to deliver. Both Wallmart and Monsanto are much bigger than many countries in the world, and any president has to keep them happy. This one is no exception. We thought he would be the exception but he has his hands tied, and the same goes for Michelle.

  10. Rachel Whetzel March 23, 2011 at 2:45 pm -

    It’s all fine and dandy that Michelle has her little garden and whatever… but her HUSBAND is directly having a damaging effect on MY ability and rights to have the same things. I don’t know whether her little garden is actually a front or smoke screen, but I do think that the two of them should be on the same page, and it’s obvious that ONE of them is not anywhere NEAR the page I’d like them both to be on.

  11. Jessica @ Delicious Obsessions March 23, 2011 at 2:54 pm -

    I think this is a great post and it definitely will make some people stop and think (well, hopefully it will). I think that anything that goes on in Washington is corrupt, regardless of the people involved or the political party they belong to. It is very evident (over and over and over again), that DC does not have our best interests at heart. If they did, they wouldn’t be in bed with Monsanto and other corrupt corporations. It all comes down to money and control. Funny how many former employees of Monsanto there are working in politics on DC. Sounds like a shady, inside job to me and you can bet that Obama is right there with them. When it really comes down to it, the President is not the one in control. The President is simply a pawn in a much larger game of money and power. They may come into office with the greatest of intentions, but they get corrupted and often times don’t have much of a choice – they do what the puppet masters tell them.

    However, most people think I’m a fruit loop with my political conspiracy banter, so I’ll shut up now! 🙂

    Thanks for another great post Mike!

  12. Donald Calvin Joseph Rice March 23, 2011 at 3:01 pm -

    mike, i think that, overall, what mrs. obama is doing send a pretty strong positive signal, because she has been advocating mostly organic gardening and improving physical fitness, especially among younger people. but there is a pretty powerful disconnect between her efforts, and that of the administration when it comes to food policy. to be honest, i don’t think the president and many other people get that disconnect. to them, agriculture is just another business, another industry, and whatever can be done to promote and grow that industry is a good thing for the US.

    obviously, you and i and your readers, and many many others, disagree. but we’re the aware ones, and i think it’s going to be our duty to do just what you’re doing: educate and inform our friends, family, and neighbors, of the dangers inherent in our food supply. for too long, power in america has been concentrated at the top of society – in the halls of DC and in the boardrooms of corporate america. i think that the organic/localvore/backyard farming movement is part of a broader trend in american society that will eventually upset the status quo. until then, the powers that be will continue to be intent on money and power, two corrupting influences that have unfortunately destroyed my faith in this administration for good.

  13. Jessica Braun March 23, 2011 at 3:04 pm -

    I would agree that she really does believe in what she’s doing and I would even stretch to say that he agrees with the initiatives. I don’t think that its a cover up so much as a really good illustration of the way that money and politics have taken precedence over what is important. The initiative to promote gardening and healthy eating is something that everyone can get behind easily but its a lot harder to say no when the money and politics involved in GMOs come to the fore-front.

    I wouldn’t say its a political stunt, but its definitely worth a statement to remind both of them that they should stand behind their beliefs in EVERYTHING they do.

  14. The Crimson Pirate March 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm -

    Well, everyone didn’t jump on board and everyone wasn’t happy when he was elected. The other option wouldn’t have been any better either. I’m sorry but anyone who believed there was going to be change either way got suckered.

    The whitehouse garden is just another part of the dog and pony show. It’s a sound bite for the lame stream media. They show everyone an organic garden being run by Michelle while totally ignoring her husband in bed with big agriculture.

    He just ignored the disaster in Japan, and the problems in the middle east to spend the weekend in Chile with the heads of 6 major multinational corporations. They have some lovely photos Barry and Michelle with the kids on the beach while Japan wastes away and Lybia burns.

    This is called mercantilism, where government and business get in bed together. Business pays off people in government and government gives certain businesses special priveledges. And the problem isn’t business, it’s government. You can’t give out special priveledges without government, you can’t have a monopoly without government, you can’t have pay to play without government, and the level of corruption possible is expanded exponentially by government. Get rid of government and the world will be a better place all around.

  15. Lorraine Moore March 23, 2011 at 4:20 pm -

    Speaking as a wife, sometimes we operate separately from our spouses. I’m working hard on creating an organic, green lifestyle for my family but my Hubby is still a VP at a multinational corporation. Granted, my attempts to go green are not on a public stage and for the sake of public relations but I know that my influence on my Hubby’s work situation is basically nil. Perhaps seeing them as working “together” is not really the right viewpoint. Being president is one job, being his wife is a different one.

  16. Mike Lieberman March 23, 2011 at 4:41 pm -

    It’s just a revolving door of faces. The real strings are pulled behind the scenes.

  17. Mike Lieberman March 23, 2011 at 4:42 pm -

    Amen. They are on two opposite sides of the spectrum.

  18. Mike Lieberman March 23, 2011 at 4:43 pm -

    You are no fruit loop. It all makes sense to me. So maybe that makes us both Fruit Loops? If so, I’d rather be a Fruit Loop than a sheeple.

  19. Mike Lieberman March 23, 2011 at 4:46 pm -

    I’m doing my best to educate and open up discussion about this kind of stuff. Hopefully we can continue to spread the message to others, but with all of the freedoms given to GMOs it might become more difficult to just grow our own.

    Your input is always appreciated.

  20. Mike Lieberman March 23, 2011 at 4:47 pm -

    I would love to agree with you, but totally believe that it’s a well-thought out plan.

  21. Mike Lieberman March 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm -

    Appreciate your thoughts and insight. Definitely got me thinking some more (as you usually do).

  22. Mike Lieberman March 23, 2011 at 4:52 pm -

    Thanks for the comment Lorraine. You sure your PR person didn’t have you create that garden? 😉

    The way that I view a partnership of any kind, be it marriage or friendship, is that thoughts and beliefs such as this are part of the partnership. It would be difficult for me to be close to someone that had such a varying point of view on an issue such as this.

    This isn’t to say that there can’t be disagreements on certain issues, I am just saying that for me, this is a big one. Being a person is the job that I focus on full-time.

    I’m not saying that I’m right. This is just my POV.

  23. Lorraine Moore March 23, 2011 at 5:34 pm -

    Oh, I agree. However, my Hubby and I focus on family first. His job just pays the bills around here. Granted, he’s not in Agribusiness and his company is not destroying the environment but I just don’t have a lot of input in that part of his life. His company didn’t hire me and my opinions just don’t matter to them.

    As far as Michelle Obama, I didn’t vote for her and I don’t think most people would agree with an unelected person having an inordinate amount of say-so in the business of the President. I didn’t like it when Hillary Clinton butted in and I wouldn’t like it if any other spouse of an elected official got overly involved. I think of the role of the wife of the President as being one of community relations and charitable work. If her message is diametrically opposed to the actual work of the President, is that hypocritical? I am not sure . . . I just don’t think she has as much influence as people seem to think she should have.

  24. Meemsnyc March 23, 2011 at 5:48 pm -

    I wrote an email to the White House raising questions and concerns about the GMO alfalfa, and they sent me back a generic food safety email and did not address the GMO question at all. It definitely does feel like smoke and mirrors. How can he appoint numerous Monsanto execs to the USDA and FDA! It’s heartbreaking because I believed in his “change” speech. I have to say, he’s lost my vote for the next election.

  25. Mike Lieberman March 23, 2011 at 6:24 pm -

    Yea it’s definitely complex and all intermingled. Nothing is cut and dry.

  26. anotherkindofdrew March 23, 2011 at 8:39 pm -

    I would love to hear her talk about buying seeds or the difference between heirloom seeds and “five and dime seeds.” Hey, in fact, why doesn’t she hold a press conference when they are dumping a truckload of chicken crap on the gardens. I mean, gardening is about more than the bounty. It is about the toil, the work, the thought. The only thought I see in the White House gardens is the thought of how it will put a positive spin on a rather negative situation. Watch this hand while the other hand………

    I can’t speak for their marriage or friendship. Heck, for all I know the President is tickled pink at watching his wife garden while he ducks behind the presidential dumpster chain smoking and thinking about his golf swing. The point is it is allowing for conversation. It is making us talk. I just wish she would join in and talk WITH us and not at us.

  27. Mike Lieberman March 23, 2011 at 9:17 pm -

    What else would you expect from them? Sad.

  28. Mike Lieberman March 23, 2011 at 9:18 pm -

    True dat. Why doesn’t anyone ask her her thoughts on GMOs and what her husband is doing instead of just standing there, snapping pictures and asking candy cane questions.

  29. Katherinekelley March 23, 2011 at 10:00 pm -

    Finally! Someone agrees with me!

  30. Mike Lieberman March 23, 2011 at 10:23 pm -

    Nice. No one mentions and I’m sure others have been thinking it.

  31. Eattheyard March 23, 2011 at 11:29 pm -

    Having worked in media, I can appreciate healthy suspicion and asking tough questions of our representatives in government — especially tough questions about the bed our representatives seem intent on always sharing with big business, no matter what party they hail from.

    However, the suggestion that Michelle Obama’s interest in healthy eating is merely a cover for the president’s dealings with agribusiness seems like a conspiracy theory at best and unfounded speculation at worst. Her efforts have always struck me as genuine. Traditional media looks for news that brings in viewers and readers, and the first lady’s dealings with healthy eating are far more likely to generate ratings than an FDA appointment, no matter how obvious the conflict of interest is to an informed observer. Most observers are not informed enough to see how ugly, and how expected, such an appointment is.

    People often confuse voting for any office, including the presidency, with voting for a particular outcome on an issue of importance to them, when really we are voting for a package, a complex person to fill a complex job. It is unrealistic and realistic at the same time to be disgruntled over a particular action, and difficult to take the long view.

    It is also important to remember that organic is an adulterated term these days, and quite subjective, and in some camps not the antithesis of GMO. Do you mean your personal definition of organic, or organic as it was defined 40 years ago, or USDA Organic? To retrieve this word from the merchandised, commercialized, and agribusiness- and lobbyist-defined term it has become, we have to say what we mean when we mean it and not assume that organic means the same thing to all people.

  32. Mike Lieberman March 24, 2011 at 12:04 am -

    I understand what you are saying, but to even dismiss the fact that it could be a cover up could be overlooking a lot.

    Most terms are altered and have many different meanings to different people. The way that I define organic (not using synthetics and chemicals on crops, etc) is the antithesis of GMO in my mind.

  33. Jonathan Sanders March 26, 2011 at 3:03 am -

    Hey Mike. I feel like you’re throwing out the baby with the bath water. Don’t get me wrong. I very much agree with your overall mission. However, it doesn’t really matter what her husband is doing. The fact is, her actions will inspire people to be more aware of what they’re eating. That is a very good thing.

  34. Mike Lieberman March 26, 2011 at 9:10 pm -

    Jonathan – I get that, but also don’t think that we should be lulled and happy with this and continue to do our best to rally against what her husband is doing.

  35. Jonathan Sanders March 26, 2011 at 10:42 pm -

    I totally get that. I am just trying to throw in a little pragmatism. Regardless, we should definitely stand up and be heard. I see that is what you’re doing, and I applaud that. Thanks for engaging, and not getting offended. There seems to be too much offense taken, and not enough engagement in our national debate.

  36. Mike Lieberman March 27, 2011 at 1:50 am -

    I hear that bro. Lots of people got offended by this post and completely shut off all room for discussion. I appreciate you willing to engage as well.

  37. Imblessed1011 March 27, 2011 at 5:17 am -

    Well nice read I am happy you wrote this to open up others eyes. I see it as a subliminal message they are planting healthy food for them using some school kids to help of course the children are learning about organic gardening.
    But at same time there is the GMO going on and monsato’s getting there way with things in there gaining power.
    We the people need to become more like the people of Egypt and start holding protests for what we need and want like they did in Egypt.
    We need to be that change by getting involved in making our voices heard that we are not siting back like sheep watching it go down.

    I love your site has gave me so much motivation to get organic food growing on my balcony and getting the word out to all my friends to do the same.

    We are the start of the change to do it ourself is the place we begin.
    There needs to be more forums and get the word out about what GMO is the majority of the general people are not even awake yet and some very blind about the issues affecting our food supply.

    I agree the government is never going to seem to change anything they are being told by the money holding top what it wanted and the puppets do it he is the stand in guy that is all.

  38. Mike Lieberman March 28, 2011 at 3:28 am -

    Thanks for the comment. It will be a more difficult for something to happen here like it did in Egypt because most people are happy with their big screen TVs and SUVs. It’s not out of the question though.

    Keep me updated on the balcony garden.

  39. Ama Du March 28, 2011 at 10:46 am -

    It’s unfortunate that what you’ve pointed out is not immediately clear to everybody. There’s no conspiracy. Nothing is being covered up. Obama appointed Taylor, who’s down with Monsanto. Michelle’s got her garden thing going on simultaneously. It’s almost comical. I think it’s a mindfuck for people who notice these inconsistencies, something to deter anyone actually thinking about changing anything from doing so because, what’s the point? So many people haven’t noticed this inconsistency.

  40. Mike Lieberman March 28, 2011 at 1:50 pm -

    Thanks. It’s something that I’ve been thinking and saying for a while, but just got around to actually writing about it.

  41. March 28, 2011 at 3:11 pm -

    Its hard to really know what’s going on. The way I see it, her garden (even if it is used as a decoy) is still promoting good values, interest in growing your own food, organic eating and self sufficiency even if its only on the surface. If people who see the photos and kids who hear about the White House garden develop an interest in growing and eating better food than it is doing some good. On the other hand, I like your thinking. Its always good to question your government, what they are doing and particular when they may be trying to pull the wool over your eyes!

  42. Mike Lieberman March 28, 2011 at 4:27 pm -

    It’s certainly an interesting quandry.

  43. Jessica G. April 3, 2011 at 2:04 pm -

    I definitely understand and agree that people should be angry that Mrs. Obama promotes healthy eating and organic gardening while there is such a contradiction going on as far as the complete disaster of a decision to allow alfafa GMOs. I am furious and saddened about the decision as well. It seems like it is always one step forward, two steps back.

    However, I agree with several of the other comments made such as it wasn’t going to get any better with McCain/Palin in office. I shudder to think of that train wreck of a situation. I may be one of the naive ones but I do truly believe the Obama’s want and strive to make the changes they promised. I think we were all hopeful to see more change by now but it seems impossible to get anything done in politics anymore there are just too many cooks in the kitchen with different opinions and personal agendas.

    One thing I firmly believe is that if we as individuals make the changes in our own lives and spend the energy educating family and friends on the importance of natural living and living within our means financially then we will start to see the changes we all hoped for. There is one thing for sure and that is that the industries make changes based on the demands of the people. And where the money goes, the gov’t seems to follow. I am pleased that many companies are striving to reduce their carbon footprint, use natural ingredients, make sure animal products come from humane and organic farms, etc. I know it is a small step in the large scope of things but an important one. It shows how much power the people still have. It’s like when the Atkins craze came about. Bread sales tanked and then the bread companies were forced to come up with all these crazy no carb options to get their customers back.

    Gov’t agencies (the FDA is a joke and in my opinion mainly responsible for the obesity epidemic but that’s another story) and political careers are unfortunately backed by billion dollar companies with personal agendas of huge profits at the expense of the health and wellness of the American people. I personally can’t believe that it is even legal to accept money from your campaigns that way. Of course that company will determine the issue stances of the politician. Lebron James is getting $90 million from Nike — you damn sure won’t see him wear Reeboks.

    I have learned in my 28 years of living that you really have to take care of and be responsible for yourself. Do your own research, use common sense and get your finances in order and live within your means so you can live the new American dream where you don’t need to rely on the gov’t for anything.

    Sorry…that was long. I guess I just needed to get that off my chest 🙂

  44. Mike Lieberman April 3, 2011 at 8:30 pm -

    Thanks for the comment Jessica. I definitely hear ya. I honestly believe that it doesn’t matter who is in office. The results will be the same.

    This purpose of this post was to keep people aware of what’s really going on and not be distracted by the First Lady and her pretty smile.

  45. Dixied35 April 15, 2011 at 1:50 pm -

    I really hope, as a newcomer to this site, that it stays with gardening and does not become political. Politics, to me, are like weeds – they will take over if you’re not careful. 🙂

  46. Mike Lieberman April 15, 2011 at 11:34 pm -

    Dixie – I am not on the side of own political party or the other. I think they are all corrupt.

    This isn’t a site that is strictly about gardening. It’s about why growing food is important, what is going on with our food system and how this effects our health and the environment. To me these are all related.

    If I were stick my head in the sand and say that what Michelle Obama is doing is great and wonderful because she is gardening, I’d be lying to myself and to the people that read this blog.

    Appreciate your comment.

  47. Mike Lieberman April 18, 2011 at 1:29 pm -

    Thanks Kanda. I definitely check out what’s going on at NaturalNews. Thanks for the tip.

  48. lyn June 10, 2011 at 7:02 am -

    I’m disappointed in our president. He is not an environmental friendly president and it’s so hypocritical for Michelle to be growing and organic garden while Barack deregulates GMO crops (alfalfa and sugar beets). Monsanto is an evil monopoly.

  49. Mike Lieberman June 10, 2011 at 1:51 pm -

    True dat on all accounts. 

  50. Niteflyrwoman July 24, 2012 at 9:24 am -

    I wonder if they had to register their garden with FDA?

  51. Vanessa March 28, 2013 at 5:51 pm -

    Wow. I understand you have to sometimes slap people into reality but to infer the garden is part of some back room or maybe bedroom conspiracy where they’re plotting out the death of the nation using a garden is rather absurd. Michelle Obama is not the type of woman to be involved in such a plot but her husband is the President of the United States.

    There are probably hundreds of issues they don’t agree on personally. What is she supposed to do? I know, go off on hubby in public and give the media something else to eat them alive for in the gossip mags. Or maybe picket the White House and take a bus load of organics to the U.S. Monsanto headquarters?

    I respect her for using constraint. It can’t be easy to stand along side your husband, stay happily married and in family mode with an entire world population over your shoulder. She offered an initiative to get this overweight, lazy nation off it’s butt and start thinking healthy. It’s up to you to take it to the next level which it appears you are doing here.

    It might be more effective to get behind the vision of the White House Garden Project and flame the agricultural community to back up off the First Lady in her efforts to grow healthy food if they indeed are applying pressure to GMO the White House garden.

    I’ve never heard anyone complaining about the White House Landscape in general. What have they been using to maintain the lawns, trees, flowers and shrubs for the last say, 50 years? Anyone know? Hmm…

    In a few years they won’t be in the White House and I wonder how much attention will be given to the garden then. By the way, I agree with you about the President and GMO. I have a few axes to grind personally on many issues he has supported and put a pen to– and I’m Black. But Mrs. Obama and that garden isn’t one of them.

    She’s from my hometown Chicago, the inner city. The impact she is having on Black people in the city, many of whom find it hard to embrace gardening ‘at all’ given our history in this country— is profound. We’re not naive about the President, Politics or GMO. Inner City neighborhoods have a history of ‘organic gardening’ before such terms existed—a little known fact.

    Actually, I’d like to know more detail about the day to day of maintaining the garden. More down-to-earth visuals instead of the PR stuff. I may be wrong, but I think she’s praying for the day when they put the last suitcase in the ride, and leave the ‘house’ to hopefully get some part of their personal lives back.

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