Let's Move! anniversary interview: First Lady talks campaign confusions & accountability, plays along when reporter moralizes on food...Audio file
First Lady Michelle Obama stressed throughout the last year that she's promoting moderation and balance with the Let's Move! campaign, not deprivation or dieting. But during her one year-anniversary interviews with reporters, Mrs. Obama has had to defend the calorie-heavy White House Super Bowl menu. She was also repeatedly asked about critics like Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh, who have accused her of trying to create a Food Nanny State.
Mrs. Obama addressed the criticism again during an anniversary interview taped at the White House with NPR reporter Michelle Norris, and used some interesting adjectives to describe foods that are neither fruit nor vegetables.
"I think they just need more clarification about what Let's Move! is really about," Mrs. Obama said of her critics. "At the core of this effort is really giving parents information and better choices. They're absolutely right, there is no way that the first lady can or should go into someone's house and tell them what to eat — it doesn't work. It wouldn't work in my household — in fact, I would resent it."
Guilty as charged: Pie, salty foods...
Norris then pushed Mrs. Obama to describe her own "guilty pleasures," clearly missing Mrs. Obama's point that junkfood is not something to feel guilty about, if you work out regularly and have an overall healthy diet based on, er, moderation and balance.
Mrs. Obama took the bait, and identified her favorite foods, attaching judgemental adjectives. She identified White House Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses' pies as among her favorite delights.
"It's decadent, it's bad, it's evil," Mrs. Obama said of White House pie.
President Obama and Mrs. Obama love Yosses' pie so much that they've given the pastry expert a pie-related nickname: The Crust Master. The First Lady also said that salty foods are a weakness.
"I am a salty food lover," Mrs. Obama said. "We love pizza, we love burgers and fries...I mean, we eat like most American families. I think the difference is we prepare — or, now, we have the food prepared, and it's real food, and that makes a difference."
Mrs. Obama has frequently said she adores french fries. But attaching morally charged adjectives to sweet and salty foods--when you've said they're okay in moderation--could well confuse observers, and the critics who already seem to have trouble comprehending the ideas of moderation and balance. The NPR interview is not the first time Mrs. Obama has used a judgemental adjective for food.
"You can't live in a world without delicious naughty foods," Mrs. Obama told USA Today in January. "It's no fun."
Mrs. Obama also pointed out that burgers aren't necessarily bad per se, depending on quality of meat and preparation.
"I think the difference is we prepare — or, now, we have the food prepared, and it's real food, and that makes a difference," Mrs. Obama said. "Hamburgers are not innately bad, it's just the quality of the meat, the quality of the vegetables that go along with the meal. As we've talked about in our household, burgers and fries in of itself is not a bad meal. It's potatoes and meat with a vegetable. Can we have it every night? No. Does it work better if you bake the potatoes rather than fry them? Yeah. So we need to share those tips."
>The recipe for decadent, bad and evil White House Apple Pie is here.
On measuring the commitments of food corporations...
When asked how the Let's Move! pledges of Walmart and other food corporations will be tracked and measured, Mrs. Obama said an evaluation process for these commitments is still being worked on.
"We haven't figured out yet how we talk about accountability," Mrs. Obama said.
Many of the campaign's commitments from outside entities have five- and ten-year time frames; their failure or success which could well not be determined until after the Obamas leave the White House. The ultimate goal of the campaign, to reduce childhood obesity to just 5% by 2030, also occurs long after the Obama Administration has ended.
Mrs. Obama also said that there's "lots of dancing going on" at the White House, as a way of exercising; daughters Malia and Sasha love to dance. She suggested parents turn on the radio and dance with their kids.
The NPR audio: