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HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?: August Book Review for Kids

FIRST GARDEN: THE WHITE HOUSE GARDEN AND HOW IT GREW By Robbin Gourley

For the last few weeks my daughter has had the same breakfast every day: a 4 cheese pizza Hot Pocket and a Dove bar.  Then she and her sister go to Summer school and I go to work.  She has asked me recently to stop packing her snacks and/or lunches.  We’ve been working on being honest, and she finally confessed that she had been tossing or giving away her food at school and not eating any of it and she wanted to stop wasting food and stop lying.  Admirable I guess, except for the not eating all day part.  

So then later, at home, she will usually have some Goldfish crackers (must be Flavor-blasted with extra cheddar)…and then much, much later she’ll eat some macaroni n’ cheese. (Kraft)  That’s it.  Every day.   She basically has the eating habits of a stoned fraternity guy.  If she had a moped I’m sure she’d be driving to Taco Bell right now.  I usually make her try (courtesy bite—we call it) whatever we are having for dinner but I’ve given up on the other meals.  Given the choice between no food and healthy food, she would just as soon starve, so that’s not really an option.  I know because I’ve tried it.   I do force water and sometimes fruit purely for digestive reasons.  She’ll eat a bowl of strawberries if there is a healthy sprinkling of sugar on top, and she’ll eat watermelon occasionally if it’s cut into triangles “like at soccer.”  Thank God, because otherwise the constipation factor would be beyond the pale.  It’s already definitely an issue.  Too much information, I know.  Let me just say, there was a time when she was a baby that we had to use a plastic spoon.  That’s all the information I can give at this time without blacking out.

Her sister, on the other hand just has naturally healthy food cravings.  She eats a variety of fruits and vegetables.  She’ll eat an egg in the morning.  She loves fish.  She’s like the poster child for the food pyramid.  Hopefully, that will continue as we head into middle school and puberty and fun things like PMS cravings for salt and vinegar chips—assuming that’s a hereditary trait.  They’ll grow up as teen girls together sharing a bathroom and UTTERLY HATING EACHOTHER because after school each day one of them eats nectarines and the other one eats 4 Toblerone candy bars.

I can say, though, before the “you know what” hits the fan, that they both love to grow edible things.  I’ve seen the little one (the hot pocket hop head) eat dozens of blackberries if she can pick them off the vine herself.  That’s our big crop right now.  It’s hard to screw that up—blackberries seems to just want to grow no matter where you plant them.  We’re trying to grow tomatoes too but in a raised planter because last time we had a fabulous tomato crop ready to harvest the dog ate every last one and puked for days—puke that looked exactly like salsa, I might add.

Our plan is to build a fenced, terraced garden with little walkways and have all kinds of vegetables, fruits and herbs.

I’m excited.  I said to daughter #1—would you eat tomatoes if we grew them?  (tomatoes are the one healthy thing she WON’T eat) and she said, “oh yes, anything from OUR garden, I will eat.”  

And I said, “lettuce?”

And she said, “Yes.”

So we’ll see.

I think Michelle Obama might have a teensy bit more authority than I have because she got not only her darling daughters, but all the secret service, all the staff, her buddy Barry, AND tons of local school kids to not only help plant the White House Garden, but to help reap and eat the rewards!!!

Let’s back track a little bit.  Eleanor Roosevelt had a garden, and so did a few other First Ladies, but Michelle has been the first one to REALLY UTILIZE THE SPACE.  They have a surprising amount of acreage out there on Penn. Ave.  This is her cause…and I must say, I like it better than “just say no to drugs,” and I like it better than simply re-designing the interior of the White House, and guess why?  Well, I can’t divulge my personal reasons, but let’s just say that anyone can hire a decorator, and just saying “no” has never really worked for anyone I know.

So Michelle, in an effort to exemplify the kind of healthy lifestyle she is advocating, has planted and harvested scads of veggies, fruits, herbs.  She has overseen the planning, care-taking and harvesting of lots and lots of fabulous crops—everything from cucumbers to spinach to fresh rosemary and your basic carrots and radishes!  They have fruit trees and herbs, corn and okra!  She has made sure that this White House Kitchen Garden is in fact a working garden.

She has incorporated the UBER-FRESH goods into all the White House menus and recipes.  Once the garden had reached its first big ripe harvesting time, all the school kids came up to try out the yummy FRESH treats.  They raved and marveled at how much better that delicious salad was than their fast food or hot lunch food for that matter.  So they were given the alternative and they know too that their First Lady is also traveling the country, visiting their schools, and trying very hard to raise awareness and change the food choices for kids everywhere.  

Her money is where her mouth is.  We have a gorgeous, healthy, and extremely energetic First Lady.  And now we know that President Obama DOES NOT LIKE BEETS.  There are no beets in the White House Kitchen Gardens.  

Michelle is walking the walk and talking the talk and I think it’s fabulous, and this beautifully illustrated book shows every step of her path to demonstrate healthy living and make it accessible to every American.

This adorable and super informative book tells the story of Mrs. Obama’s garden—how she started it and continues to expand it.  The book details every step of the process with lots of pictures and fun anecdotes about Sasha, Malia, and even Bo, the dog.  Apparently even fancy folks have dog/garden problems too!  But probably someone else does the clean-up…  

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