Today in the Op-Ed section of the Times there was an interesting critique by columnist Maureen Dowd of the way President Obama sends mixed messages about food. I’m not exactly sure what to make of it.

Her gripe is that half the time, he’s preaching the benefits of healthy eating and exercise, talking about the White House vegetable garden and eschewing french fries in restaurants, except for when he’s showing what an average Joe he is by chomping on burgers.
“Mix the salad, not the message,” Dowd says.
Might that be an arugula salad, Maureen?
When Bush was in office, there wasn’t a whole lot of talk about what the President ate (except the whole pretzel incident), but you see people looking to the Obamas for cues on how to eat. Obviously, Barak and Michelle know what they’re doing and who’s watching, but foods like burgers and fries can be part of a healthy diet as long as you’re physically active and make room for indulgences by making good food choices the majority of the time.
While I do find it encouraging to see Dowd focusing in on the President’s eating habits, I feel like she misses a few opportunities to talk about what a healthy lifestyle can include. She almost makes a good point about our country’s need for a good role model but doesn’t exactly go there.
It also bugs me that the public supposedly considers burgers and fries “average Joe” food in the first place. It’s like when you go to a bar mitzvah, and the kids get chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks, while the adults get to nosh on prime rid and caviar. Why can’t everyone line up for the same buffet? It doesn’t have to be one extreme or the other.
However, living in a city full of “arugula-eating liberals” who can afford fresh produce, I have to remind myself that the concept of moderation isn’t exactly a no-brainer in our country.
I guess we’ll just stay tuned for now.

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