With American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America, First Lady Michelle Obama has created a beautiful book that is inspirational and full of lovely illustrations and photos. The book is divided into four sections to reflect the seasons with recipes to try for each season.
In 2009, Obama was distressed about childhood obesity rates, and as a result she launched the White House Kitchen Garden—which also happens to be a national park. Her goal was to get people to talk about the “food we eat, the lives we lead, and how all of that affects our children.” Her goal was to help readers understand why they should garden.
American Grown shares the stories of people involved with the garden and has information from chefs, beekeepers, horticulturists, and more. There are tips and hints for gardeners and non-gardeners alike and the recipes for preparing fresh produce are easy to follow and quite tasty.
For history buffs the book has trivia interspersed with tips and hints. John Adams ordered the first garden, which was never harvested because he lost his re-election bid. It tells about Thomas Jefferson and his fixation on trying to create a four-foot-long cucumber. Heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon helped redesign the Rose Garden for President John Kennedy.
Many First Ladies use books to help educate people about their causes and Obama is joining the ranks with a book that concentrates on how gardening connects us with our food, the land, and each other in a way that helps transform everyone’s health.
Michelle Obama received no advance payment for the book and is donating all her proceeds to the National Park Foundation for programs that promote gardening and healthy eating and to help care for the White House garden.
American Grown tells the story of the White House garden and in doing so reminds all of us that we can grow together. This is a book to put on your reading list.