This week, First Lady Michelle Obama put her words to action as she worked with American Indian children to plant traditional crops in the White House kitchen garden. An outspoken advocate of fighting childhood obesity with her “Let’s Move!” program, Obama invited the children to the White House to show an example of promoting healthier eating habits.
Studies have long shown that the Native American planting technique of planting “three sisters” together works wonders for each crop. The “three sisters” consist of corn, beans and squash and they work together in the garden. The corn offers the beans a place to climb, while the beans provide the soil with nitrogen that the others use. The squash works as a carpet along the ground, blocking the sunlight and keeping weeds from growing.The First Lady said,
“Today’s a big day for us in the garden because it’s the first time we’re going to use native seeds of corn, beans and squash in the way they’ve been planted for thousands of years. We’re all pretty excited to continue this tradition. This is another example of a fun, easy way that we all can work together to be healthier. And that’s what we’re trying to accomplish with Let’s Move!”
Placing and Picking Crops
All of the items that were planted came from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Indian. While planting these seeds, they also picked crops from the garden, including lettuces, rhubarb, chard, kohlrabi, sugar snap peas, turnips, broccoli and herbs. These crops were planted back in March by the First Lady and a group of elementary school children from Harriet Tubman and Bancroft Schools.They have begun this anti-obesity campaign by focusing on American Indian and Alaska Native children because these communities have shown such a high prevalence of obesity. Children aged 2 to 4 were found, in 2009, to have higher levels of obesity than any other racial or ethnic group (20.7%).