On Wednesday, March 16, I had an unforgettable experience. I was one of four kid reporters invited to a roundtable discussion about children's health with Michelle Obama.
We interviewed the First Lady at a picnic table in the White House Children's Garden, a secluded area that was built for White House children and grandchildren and decorated with their handprints. Mrs. Obama chatted with us about Let's Move, a campaign that she created in 2010 to reduce childhood obesity by encouraging kids to eat healthy foods and exercise daily. All of the kid reporters had the chance to ask the First Lady about how to solve the obesity problem in this country.
A Healthy Discussion
Many people in our country find it difficult to afford fresh fruits and vegetables. Some don't have the time to prepare fresh foods for their families. So I asked Mrs. Obama what advice she had for them. She suggested families buy frozen or canned vegetables to save time and money.
"What families should think about doing is making sure that there is some vegetable with every meal and maybe some fruit if possible," she said.
She then added that the expense of fresh produce is a problem. "It's up to us as a country to make sure that every family has access to and can afford fresh fruits [and vegetables]," the First Lady said. "That's an important issue that we have to work on as a nation."
Another recommendation that the First Lady offered to families is to cut out sugary drinks and replace them with water. But that doesn't mean that she thinks children should avoid sweet treats altogether. When I asked her whether schools should ban bake sales, birthday cupcakes and pizza, her answer was no.
"Being healthy isn't about eliminating all the fun stuff," Obama said. "It's all about moderation." The Obama family, she told us, saves desserts for the weekend.
In the Garden
Before the roundtable, I joined a crowd of reporters and photographers covering this year's replanting of the White House vegetable garden. Students from local elementary schools were there to help out. First, White House chef Sam Kass gave them a pep talk. Then, the First Lady spoke to the students. She revealed that the President doesn't like beets and that her daughters' favorite vegetables are spinach and broccoli.
Obama asked the students to try new foods and to educate those around them. "We're going to want you guys to pass this information on," she said, "and get your parents to cook some vegetables."
After the First Lady's speech, the students were ready to join Obama and the White House chefs down in the dirt. Together they planted peas, cauliflower, Swiss chard, leeks, turnips, lettuce and (sorry, Mr. President) even beets.