A roundup of the notable events of the year, including exclusive commentary from the East Wing on criticism of the Let's Move! campaign, the First Lady's favorite food events, and what's ahead for 2011...
2010 saw plenty of groundbreaking "firsts" in food for President Obama's administration, but the major event for the year in food came when First Lady Michelle Obama launched the unprecedented and paradigm shifting Let's Move! campaign in February. It immediately became the sun in a heliocentric universe, determining the orbits of the surrounding planets.
As it coordinated an Administration-wide response to combating childhood obesity, the campaign drove much of what occurred in food inside and outside the White House in 2010, from the advocacy for crucial pieces of legislation, to USDA initiatives, to the shaping of events that seemed intended "purely" for pleasure. For instance, what other White House Easter Egg Roll has included a farmers market and chefs giving cooking demonstrations, as part of the kids' recreational activities? Mrs. Obama's did, in 2010. All the same, there were some 2010 food events that were outside the rubric of the campaign, which warrant notice on a list of the notable stories of the year. Herewith, ObFo's choices for the top White House food stories of 2010, which includes some exclusive comments from the East Wing. The events on the list are not "ranked" in order of importance. See also: 2010 in White House Photos, Food Edition.
1. The People's House, 2010: More Gardening, Less Glamour
The list of notable food stories for 2010 can begin with the photo, at top: It's the President and Mrs. Obama at this year's annual Governor's Ball, held for the National Governors Association on Feb. 21 in the state Dining Room and the East Room. 2010 is memorable for a lack of hyperglam dinner entertaining at the White House; the First Lady held more Kitchen Garden events than formal dinners. In addition to the annual Ball, there was only one other formal dinner in 2010, the State Dinner with Mexico, held on May 19 in honor of President Felipe Calderón. There were many, many receptions, however, with guests invited from across the US. (Above: The President and First Lady with Calderon and his wife, Mrs. Margarita Zavala)
The First Lady pulled out all the stops for the State Dinner; the dining part of the evening was in the East Room, and the entertainment was in an outdoor pavilion ("tent") on the South Lawn, which featured thousands of "monarch butterflies" dangling from the rafters. Guest chef Rick Bayless cooked with the White House team. Due to snowfall, the Governor's Ball menu featured no produce from the Kitchen Garden, which grows vegetables year-round, but some vegetables were used for the State Dinner menu. 2011 kicks off with the third State Dinner of the Administration, when the President and Mrs. Obama welcome People's Republic of China President Hu Jintao to the White House on January 19.
Events and entertaining at the White House in 2010 were guided by Social Secretary Julianna Smoot, who made her "debut" with the 2010 Easter Egg Roll. Mrs. Obama's first Social Secretary, Desiree Rogers, announced her resignation on February 26, 2010, after presiding over 330 events in 14 months. For perspective: In contrast to Mrs. Obama, First Lady Nancy Reagan hosted 55 formal dinners during her husband's two terms in office. According to Vanity Fair, Mrs. Reagan advised Mrs. Obama to "have lots of state dinners," when they spoke during a phone call in 2009.
2. Major Food Legislation Victories
President Obama can take credit for shepherding the two biggest food reform bills in decades through the legislative process, both of which passed during the lame duck. The groundbreaking Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, the legislative cornerstone of the Let's Move!, creates a school-based framework for the campaign's success, and provides the first comprehensive changes to federal child nutrition policy since the 1970s. The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act dramatically boosts FDA's authority over food, providing the first real changes in food safety since the 1930s. Each contains elements that will fundamentally alter Americans' relationship with food. Both were controversial, and required hard-fought battles.
"Not only am I very proud of the bill, but had I not been able to get this passed, I would be sleeping on the couch, " President Obama joked at the signing ceremony for the child nutrition bill.
The President will sign the food safety bill in 2011, when he returns from holiday vacation, according to the White House.
Another historic White House-backed bill that passed in the lame duck is the Claims Resolution Act of 2010, which provides $1.15 billion for America's black farmers to fund a settlement intended to provide redress for decades of racial discrimination at the hands of USDA. The President introduced similar legislation while still a Senator. The President's hard-won Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act also contains crucial elements for federal obesity policy and Mrs. Obama's campaign.
3. The First Lady Rolls Out The Let's Move! Campaign
Mrs. Obama's broad, highly ambitious childhood obesity campaign, launched at the White House on February 9, 2010, is unequaled in previous campaigns run by other first ladies, in its scope and its importance to the health of all Americans, and includes a special White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity. This year, the First Lady crisscrossed America, traveling from New York to Nevada, Pennsylvania to Mississippi, Missouri to Maryland, New Jersey to California, speaking to thousands of people, from governors to mayors to grocery manufacturers to restaurateurs, parents, children, medical professionals and educators, to explain Let's Move! and the need for it. (Above: Mrs. Obama speaking at the launch event)
Mrs. Obama also donned workout gear, and did calisthenics and dance moves with hundreds of kids, as she created a truly national conversation about the relationship between food, movement, and health. There are four cornerstones for the campaign: Getting healthier foods into schools; providing better information for parents and consumers, such as clear labels on food packages; eliminating food deserts and making healthy food more affordable and accessible; and getting children into a far less sedentary lifestyle, which includes less "screen time" and more exercise.
"We continue to be energized by the overwhelming support that the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative has received," said Robin Schepper, who became Executive Director of Let's Move! in August. Schepper's appointment in August of 2010 is another notable event for 2010, too.
Throughout 2010, Mrs. Obama pushed for the passage of the child nutrition legislation, with outreach to lawmakers on the Hill and key stakeholders, continuing advocacy that began even before the formal launch of the campaign. Her first Op Ed as First Lady, "A Food Bill We Need," was published on August 2 in the Washington Post, three days before the Senate approved the legislation by unanimous consent. (Above: Mrs. Obama asking members of the National Restaurant Association to join the campaign)
Mrs. Obama also rolled out a series of grassroots sub-initiatives to support the campaign, including Let's Move Faith and Communities, which has commitments from thousands of faith-based and community leaders; Let's Move Cities and Towns, which has 450 mayors, both Republican and Democrat, who have signed on their towns; and Let's Move In The Clinic, which has health care providers nationwide enrolled. Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools will get 6,000 salad bars into schools over the next three years. Let's Move Outdoors encourages the use of federal lands for fitness activities.
"There are so many people that have stepped up to get involved--educators, doctors, Republicans, Democrats, business and military leaders, and many more," Schepper said. "We have been able to come together around a unifying cause--because we recognize that our kids are our future."
Partners have included major entertainment entities such as Disney and Nickelodeon, and major professional sports, such as Major League Baseball, the National Football League, and Major League Soccer. All have made videos to support the campaign, as well as brought it into local schools, into fan clubs, and onto their websites.
Commitments have included fourteen major food manufacturers from the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation pledging to eliminate 1.5 trillion annual calories from the market place by 2015; pediatricians writing prescriptions for fruit and vegetable consumption and exercise; and the American Beverage Association putting clear calorie labels on the front of every product. (Above: Mrs. Obama with teen Disney star Nick Jonas)
"We see the momentum and overwhelming support growing every day and will continue to focus on the positive progress we can make by working together," Schepper said.
Mrs. Obama's first-ever White House livechat as First Lady was for Let's Move!, on July 13, 2010; watch it here.
Mrs. Obama, it should be noted, also has other crucial initiatives in her portfolio as First Lady: Supporting members of the military and their families, mentoring girls, and being America's most high-profile patron of the arts. All of these initiatives took up plenty of her time in 2010, too, which makes the amount of Let's Move! activity and events that took place in 2010--astounding. In 2010, she made her first foreign solo visit abroad, to the earthquake-devastated Haiti and then to Mexico; returned to the campaign trail for the midterms, and also traveled abroad with the President.
4. Let's Move! Pushback: East Wing Says Critics Are Wrong
Thanks to Let's Move!, in 2010 Mrs. Obama became the Food Police for her critics, cited as the latest example of the Obama administration's "ongoing" Nanny State efforts to expand government power, and eliminate citizens' free choice, especially when it involves choices made for children. Conservative commentators such as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin, Laura Ingraham, Michelle Malkin, and staff from Fox News in general, made criticizing the campaign--as well as the President and First Lady's public food outings--a staple. They were mimicked by critics with lesser audiences, too. But the critics are simply wrong about Mrs. Obama and the intent of the campaign, according to the East Wing. (Above: Mrs. Obama spoke about Let's Move! to more than 4,000 people at the 101st NAACP convention in July, another notable event for 2010)
"The First Lady started this campaign at the very beginning by saying that government was not the answer," Schepper said. "This is not a campaign about just having the government "fix" the problem--that hasn't worked before and won't work now. Everybody has a role--we want to make sure we play ours but that's not all that needs to happen."
Mrs. Obama has some unlikely allies who all agree that the critics are wrong, including former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who has publicly defended the campaign, saying that Palin "misunderstands" it.
“Michelle Obama's not trying to tell people what to eat or not trying to force the government's desires on people,” Huckabee said during an interview on the Curtis Sliwa Radio Show. “She’s stating the obvious, that we do have an obesity problem in this country...the First Lady's campaign is on target."
Mrs. Obama brought Let's Move! to Huckabee's eponymous Fox News show in February. The First Lady addressed some of the criticism during an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters, but the East Wing maintains that there's no need for Mrs. Obama to keep re-visiting old ground.
"She's been forthright but she's also shown that she's not interested in pointing fingers but finding solutions," Schepper said. "The First Lady has made clear she's going to move this initiative on her own personal and inclusive way, and stressed the importance of involvement by every sector."
Michelle Malkin just named the First Lady and Huckabee to her "Big Nannies of the Year" list for 2010, in a joint entry, perhaps shocked that childhood obesity actually is a bipartisan issue.
5. White House Gulf Seafood Support Campaign
In August, after 4.9 million barrels of oil flooded the Gulf of Mexico when the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank in April--and less than a month after the well was capped--the White House began an exceptional campaign to reassure Americans that Gulf seafood is safe, in an effort to revive the demolished commercial fishing industry. Far more than just an attempt to save jobs, the campaign speaks to a deep understanding at the White House that food is a crucial component of the regional culture, and that an entire way of life has been threatened by the oil spill and its aftermath. (Above: President Obama ate Gulf shrimp at Camardelle's bait shop and restaurant during a visit to Grand Isle, Louisiana in June)
No other segment of the American food economy has enjoyed this kind of focused support from the White House, but no other region has suffered equivalent cultural, economic, social, and emotional losses.
Operating under the theory that any Gulf seafood that made it to market had cleared many layers of testing protocols and was thus perfectly safe, the White House Gulf Seafood Support Campaign officially began when senior energy and climate adviser Carol Browner announced on national TV that Gulf shrimp was being served at President Obama's belated 49th birthday barbecue, a private White House event held August 8. Through December, when Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford announced on the White House blog that 2,000 pounds of Gulf shrimp and crab had been ordered to be served at Holiday receptions, there were plenty of public lauds for Gulf seafood from the President, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, other White House chefs, and a host of staffers, as well as an accompanying multimedia campaign.
"With the ongoing reopening of Gulf fisheries, we’re excited that fishermen can go back to work and Americans can confidently and safely enjoy Gulf seafood once again," President Obama said in August. "We’re certainly going to enjoy it here at the White House."
The White House released photos of the President eating Gulf seafood, as well as a video of players from the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints cooking Gulf shrimp in the White House kitchen with Senior Policy Adviser for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass. NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco held a live chat on the White House website to field questions about testing protocols and safety, and ended it with "Eat Gulf seafood!" There was even a 30 foot White House Gulf seafood Po'Boy. In September, Comerford visited New Orleans, accompanied by FDA Chief Margaret Hamburg, and a group of chefs from across the US, to continue the project of reassuring Americans that Gulf seafood was safe. The White House blog had a dedicated page--still live--devoted to Gulf seafood safety. (Above: Kass and two Saints cooking)
The Gulf misery continues, however: At the end of November, NOAA, in consultation with FDA, closed 4,213 square miles of Gulf waters, off the coasts of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, to Royal Red shrimping, after a shrimper pulled up nets 40 miles from the explosion site, and found what were believed to be tarballs. Toxicologists working in the region still wildly disagree about the safety of Gulf seafood, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "FDA is not saying Gulf seafood is free from contamination; only that it isn't enough to kill you just yet," observes Food Safety News.
6. Rockstar Chefs Join White House As Policy Advocates; Citizen Chefs Do, Too
Although famous guest chefs were a staple in the White House in 2009, this year, many more guest chefs were invited to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and their role dramatically changed. In 2009, they were visitors who cooked delicious meals; in 2010, they became policy wonks who spoke out publicly for Mrs. Obama's campaign, and moved into America's schools to offer their help. Some of the most famous chefs in America, the rockstars of the food world, have became members of Mrs. Obama's white-jacketed army of advocates. As have thousands of citizen chefs: The First Lady made culinary history when she launched the Chefs Move To Schools initiative at the White House on June 4, gathering about 700 professional citizen chefs from across America on the South Lawn. (Above: The view from the roof of the White House of Mrs. Obama speaking to the chefs during the launch)
The project matches chefs with their local schools, to help improve cafeteria offerings, teach nutrition education, help plant school gardens, and in general work on healthy food initiatives with parents, staff, and teachers.
"We want every school in the nation to have a chef partner, a set of kids who call you theirs, who believe that you care about nothing more than how they grow up and how they feel," Mrs. Obama told the chefs at the launch. "The more grownups who are working on behalf of our kids, the stronger they’ll be."
Many celeb chefs were present at the launch: Top Chef host Tom Colicchio and Rachael Ray were there, and both subsequently testified before Congress in support of the child nutrition legislation, in addition to adopting schools. ThinkFoodGroup's José Andrés was there, and he's become an outspoken advocate for improved food policy. Cat Cora was there, and appeared on morning TV with Kass to laud the campaign and urge passage of the legislation, in addition to working with schools. Wholesome Wave Foundation's Michel Nischan wrote glowing stories about the project for The Atlantic...in addition to working with schools. (Above: Ray and Nischan, in yellow, with WH pastry chefs Susie Morrison, in glasses, and Bill Yosses; chief horticulturalist Jim Adams has his back to the camera)
Also at the launch was chef Daniel Boulud, and he was also invited for the Fall Kitchen Garden Harvest, and is now publicly lauding the campaign. Marcus Samuelsson was there, and he's become an outspoken advocate, too. Bill Telepan, Koren Grieveson, Nora Pouillon, Paul Kahan, Todd Gray, and Lidia Bastianich, Ellie Krieger, all very high-profile chefs and or/cookbook authors, were also at the launch, and they've all become big advocates, too. Many were already working on programs similar to Mrs. Obama's campaign. The launch of Chefs Move included a special Kitchen Garden Harvest and picnic; a White House video of the event, featuring Samuelsson and Ray, is here.
There are now more than 2,000 chefs participating in the Chefs Move program in addition to the celeb chefs, and the number is growing. The White House chefs have adopted their own school, Harriet Tubman Elementary, in Washington, DC. In September, major cookware manufacturers donated $2 million in kitchen utensils to the campaign, for a hands-on toolkit for the chefs and their schools.
7. The Kitchen Garden Got Bigger; Fall Harvest Was First Lady's Favorite Event
Mrs. Obama first broke ground for the Kitchen Garden in 2009, and credits it with being the inspiration for the child-education elements of the Let's Move! campaign. In the Spring of 2010, the lovely South Lawn patch expanded by 400 square feet, at the First Lady's behest, when the Spring Planting took place on May 31. She was joined by child helpers from local schools, as well as by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for the planting.
"Everybody is talking about that garden, not just here in Washington, not just here in the United States, but all over the world," Mrs. Obama said. "And we've been able to start thinking about things like getting kids to try new foods that they've never tried, vegetables that they've never had," Mrs. Obama said.
According to the East Wing, the 2010 Fall Kitchen Garden Harvest was Mrs. Obama's favorite food event in 2010, in part because it continued the First Lady's policy of welcoming local children into the White House. For each Harvest and Planting, children from local schools have joined Mrs. Obama to work in the garden--and to have a garden-side picnic. (Above: Mrs. Obama and Kass help kids dig up sweet potatoes during the Fall Harvest)
"It was a pleasure to see young kids eating salad and chopping and eating kohlrabi," Schepper said. "When kids grow food, we see the connection that they immediately want to try it. We’ll continue to do these harvest and we are encouraged by the multitude of school and community gardens popping up all over the country."
Chef Boulud was the rockstar on official duty for the Fall Harvest, and he was joined by the team of American chefs competing in the food world equivalent of the Olympics, the Bocuse d'Or--who have, not coincidentally, adopted a school in their hometown, New York. The first-ever White House pumpkins (7 of them) were plucked from the garden, as were 400 pounds of sweet potatoes, among hundreds of pounds of other vegetables. The visiting chefs joined the White House chefs in giving the kids garden-side pickling and cooking lessons after the Harvest, and they all sat down to a feast that was primarily raw vegetables. (Above: Mrs. Obama and Boulud with kids & radishes)
The First Lady also revealed this year that she had been dreaming of having a Kitchen Garden on the White House lawn for as long as she had been considering the idea that her husband might become President. As of the Fall Harvest, the garden had produced more than 2,000 pounds of produce since it started, with the accompanying Bee Hive producing 160 pounds of honey this year (up from 143 pounds in 2009). Thanks to protective hoop houses, the Kitchen Garden grows vegetables year round. About a third of the crops are donated to local social services agency Miriam's Kitchen, which provides daily meals for the homeless.
On the road to rounding up enough votes for the Senate to pass the child nutrition bill, President Obama took Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on a personal tour of the Kitchen Garden in July, which reportedly helped convince Reid of the importance of the legislation; the Senate passed it by unanimous consent in August. The photo of the confab was the first ever of the President in his wife's garden to be officially released by the White House.
8. "Don't Tell Michelle" & President's Burger Run With President Medvedev
"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are," Anthelme Brillat-Savarin famously said in 1825, and perhaps that was President Obama's point when he took Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev to Ray's Hell Burger in Arlington, Va., on June 24. It's a moment in history that saw the leaders of two of the world's most powerful countries acting like just regular ol' guys, enjoying a traditional bit of American food culture--and sharing an order of French fries (the presence of translators notwithstanding). It came two months after the presidents celebrated the signing of the START treaty at a ceremonial luncheon in Prague, and is a nice piece of realpolitik reality check. (Above, at Ray's with translators)
President Obama's order: A cheddar cheeseburger with onions, lettuce, tomato, and bread-and-butter pickles, washed down with bottled iced tea. President Medvedev had a cheddar cheeseburger with onions, jalepenos and mushrooms, washed down with a Coke.
The President had plenty of other off-campus foodie forays in 2010, thanks in part to the midterm elections, and took to joking to his press pool "Don't tell Michelle," even as he ate kringle and ice cream and pie and shave ice and ordered fry-topped burgers, acutely aware of all the attention Let's Move! was garnering. The President, after publicly tasting his treat, tends to make a pronouncement: "That's outstanding" was the most-used phrase of approval in 2010.
This year, the President seemed enchanted with the idea that fast-ish food is the best representation of traditional American cuisine, because he also advised French President Nicolas Sarkozy to have lunch at legendary DC eatery Ben's Chili Bowl, when Sarkozy was visiting the White House in March. Like the Ray's burger run, the Sarkozy outing caused international headlines.
9. Stone Barns Luncheon & Let's Move! On The Global Stage
In September, the First Lady welcomed 31 spouses of Chiefs of State and Heads of Government participating in the United Nations General Assembly to a very special farm-to-table luncheon at executive chef Dan Barber's Blue Hill restaurant at the glorious Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, in Pocantico Hills, New York. With what can be mistaken for a purely social luncheon, the First Lady accomplished some big food politicking: She simultaneously cast a global spotlight on the importance of children being educated in every step of the food chain from growing through eating, as she gave Stone Barns' small, localized, sustainable agriculture practices the White House seal of approval on the international stage. (Above: Mrs. Obama and some of her guests watch chickens)
According to the East Wing, the UN Spouses luncheon was Mrs. Obama's other favorite food event in 2010.
White House chefs Comerford, Kass, and Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses joined Barber--and a group of local third graders--to cook the lunch in the kitchen of Blue Hill, and vegetables from the White House Kitchen Garden, as well as honey from the White House Bee Hive, were also used. Before lunch, Mrs. Obama and her guests visited the chickens who laid the eggs that would be used in their meal, as they took a walking tour of the 80-acre farm, which was filled with flocks of bright red heritage turkeys and snow white sheep.
During her remarks at the luncheon, Mrs. Obama spoke to her guests about the importance of the Let's Move! campaign. She also presented them with hostess gifts that included treats from her Kitchen Garden: The woven baskets included jars of honey from the White House Bee Hive, and pickled vegetables created by Yosses (the recipe is here).
It was the second time in 2010 that Mrs. Obama took her campaign international. In May, during the State Dinner, Mrs. Obama took Mrs. Zavala to visit an elementary school in Maryland. The two First Ladies sat with the kids and ate a healthy, family style school lunch. They also did calisthenics with the kids, and both spoke about the importance of fitness and healthier eating. (Above: The two First Ladies on the run with the kids).
Let's Move! will continue to be part of Mrs. Obama's interactions with international visitors in 2011, according to the East Wing.
"The Let's Move! campaign will continue to have a domestic focus but we recognize that the issue of childhood obesity is one that many countries are grappling with around the world," Schepper said. "The First Lady has used the spousal events as an opportunity to showcase issues and achievements of interest to her that she thinks will be of interest to other spouses."
10. Sam Kass Got A New Title & Traveled The US
The White House didn't make a formal announcement in June when Kass went from being Mrs. Obama's "Food Initiative Coordinator" to "Senior Policy Adviser for Healthy Food Initiatives," but after the news was first reported here on ObFo in July, it made global headlines. Kass' position as Food Initiative Coordinator, which combined the duties of policy wonk and chef, was already unprecedented for any White House. In 2009, Kass was the first-ever Food Initiative Corrdinator, and in 2010, he became the very first Senior Policy Adviser for Healthy Food Inittiatives. (Above: Mrs. Obama and Kass at the launch of Chefs Move)
"He has just been such an important part of promoting healthy eating, not just here at the White House, but helping to shape this initiative," Mrs. Obama said of Kass during the launch of Chefs Move, as she gave him a special shout-out.
The new title was given to better reflect Kass' growing duties; in 2010, his work expanded exponentially as the Let's Move! campaign rolled out. Kass traveled solo around the US, speaking to key constituencies from coast to coast--including giving a school lunch cooking demonstration for a meeting of the National Governors Association in July. He also keynoted many conferences in Washington, DC. Kass also traveled with Mrs. Obama to her out-of-state events, as well as wrangled key stakeholders for the campaign, and worked on plenty of sub-initiatives, all while still cooking, and making school visits, and giving tours of the Kitchen Garden.
Kass is not the only chef to hold a title in the Obama administration: In 2010, Blue Hill's Dan Barber became the only chef to be a member of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, while ThinkFoodGroup's Andrés serves as an appointed member of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke's US Travel and Tourism Advisory Board. The Con critics went to town with Kass' new title, too, dubbing him another "appointed" Czar for the Obama administration.
11. White House Chefs On TV; White House Creates Food TV
Beginning with Comerford's January, 2010 appearance on a special White House episode of Iron Chef America, where she was teamed with celeb chef Bobby Flay against the equally famous Mario Batali and Emeril Lagasse, the White House chefs had plenty of TV appearances in 2010. Mrs. Obama made an unprecedented cameo on Iron Chef, the only First Lady to ever appear on a food program; the competition used her Kitchen Garden as "the secret ingredient." (Above: Mrs. Obama with the chefs, and show host Alton Brown)
Colicchio and Top Chef devoted a whole episode to school lunch issues, with Kass appearing as a guest judge. Comerford and Yosses joined Martha Stewart on her show, to demonstrate healthy All American recipes for Independence Day, which included dessert. Comerford, Kass, and Yosses also appeared on network news shows, from CNN to Good Morning America to the Today Show to Morning Joe, to discuss the Let's Move! campaign, and they also made appearances on local TV news outlets.
The White House in 2010 started regularly producing its own food media; the most recent is a video of Kass with Sesame Street Muppet Elmo, in the White House kitchen, talking up healthy school lunches. There are also White House videos about the Bee Hive and the Kitchen Garden, about Let's Move!, as well as the Let's Cook! video series, in which Kass, joined by a visiting celeb chef, gives onscreen cooking lessons. (Above: Kass and Elmo)
The First Lady had plenty of TV appearances in 2010, but there were three notable Let's Move! outings. Mrs. Obama gave a personal tour of the Kitchen Garden to PBS' America's Heartland, and spoke about the campaign. CNN's Roland Martin had a one-hour special devoted to Let's Move!. Perhaps most notably, Mrs. Obama made the administration's first outing on Huckabee's Fox News show last February, to discuss the Let's Move! campaign. As mentioned above, Huckabee has remained a staunch supporter of Mrs. Obama and the campaign.
12. President Gives Recess Appointment To Food Safety Chief
In 2009, in the midst of a massive recall of salmonella-tainted peanut butter, President Obama declared America's food safety landscape "a public health hazard." He created the Food Safety Working Group to coordinate Administration efforts, and USDA desperately tried to find someone to lead its Food Safety and Inspection Service, a post vacant since December of 2008. When at last the President nominated infectious disease specialist Dr. Elisabeth Hagen in January 2010, she sailed through her confirmation hearing. All the same, thanks to partisan politics, the Senate declined to finish its job. In the midst of a nationwide recall of more than half a billion tainted eggs in August, the President got hardboiled, and announced a recess appointment for Hagen. A month later, the Senate scrambled to officially confirm Hagen, so she could remain permanently in office.
13. Yosses Published A Cookbook
It might seem like a tough gig to be in charge of the Sugar Situation Room when your boss is running a childhood obesity campaign, but that's not the case for Yosses. He's an active participant in the Let's Move! campaign, and also a big enthusiast for the Kitchen Garden. This summer, Yosses' brilliant dessert cookbook, The Perfect Finish, was published by W.W. Norton. Still, the role of dessert in American cullture--and Yosses' role as pastry chef at the White House--was a subject of fascination in the media this year, thanks to Mrs. Obama's campaign. (Yosses, in photo, cooking at an outdoor White House event)
In addition to being a terrific tome, the book is another first: Yosses is the first White House chef to publish a "non-White House" cookbook while "still in office." He's had to work in "private" appearances to support the book's publication with his many White House duties. As 2010 came to an end, Yosses' book landed on numerous Top Ten lists. It's also a notable event because at the same time the White House is running the most high-profile food campaign ever, and issuing recipes and videos that teach and support cooking and growing food, there has been resistance to publishing an "official" White House cookbook.
Perhaps that's on deck for 2011. February marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of Mrs. Obama's campaign, and she will likely unveil new partners and commitments and projects.
Photos: Top photo and President eating peach photo by Pete Souza/White House; Chefs Move launch photo by Lawrence Jackson/White House; President eating shrimp photo by AP; Nick Jonas photo by Disney; Iron Chef photo from Food Network; all others by EGK/ObamaFoodorama.