The first lady is getting a little more famous today at the release of her long-awaited book, American Grown: The Story of the White House Garden and Gardens Across America.
Inside this inspirational tale, Mrs. Obama shares what she’s learned about growing a vegetable garden in the White House Lawn in her years as first lady of our nation.
In a recent interview with NPR, Obama said that spring is one of her favorite seasons in the garden because everything is bursting. She says the family eat lots of broccoli, fresh greens and lettuces of all kinds; and even plenty of sugar snap peas, much to her oldest daughter’s disapproval as it’s one of her least favorites.
But one of the most intriguing parts about the White House garden is the beehive, which has been fully-functioning since its installation in 2009.
The first lady says she uses the honey almost exclusively, and especially enjoys it in her tea. In fact, one of her favorite snacks is White House honey over organic green apples. ‘Tastes like sunshine doesn’t it?’ she asked a reporter in a recent interview. This description has us longing for a taste of our own.
But the beehive isn’t just for show – it’s an all-out operation that produces hundreds of pounds of honey per year. The presidential hive is reportedly larger than ever, having produced 243 pounds in 2011, up from 164 pounds in 2010, and 124 pounds in 2009.
Mr. and Mrs. Obama reportedly harvest the honey for their own use both at State Dinners and First Family Dinners, and also for meals at Miriam’s Kitchen – a community organization that provides meals for DC’s homeless population. The Obama’s also give the prestigious honey as gifts to world leaders and close friends alike.
But it doesn’t stop there. The Obama’s even brew their own beer with the honey. “We have a White House beer that’s brewed with the honey,” said the first lady, who joked that the practice is legal as long as it’s not sold.
The presidential brew is a White House Honey Ale, which is reportedly made with equipment the Obama’s purchased with their own money. According to historians, it’s the first beer ever produced at the White House, making the Obama’s brew-master pioneers.
Although the family makes their signature brew in small batches – about 90-100 bottles at a time – it’s almost all consumed in one day, primarily at the White House Super Bowl party. But they also share their honey ale with guests at St. Patty’s Day celebrations and other special occasions throughout the year.
Besides tales of beer and honey, Mrs. Obama also uses her book to share stories of her own family’s history with gardens, including her mother’s – which at the time was known as a victory garden as it was seen as a patriotic act during World War II to reduce demand on food supply.
Although the Obama family is the first to brew beer, they’re the second to grow a White House garden. Eleanor Roosevelt, one of Mrs. Obama’s personal heroines, was the first, and started the movement of victory gardens during her time as first lady in the 40s.
Mrs. Obama also touches on fitness in her book, of course fueled by her popular Let’s Move campaign. Some of the areas of biggest concern lie in the physical fitness habits of our nation’s children. Mrs. Obama stated that recent reports have shown American children are spending an average of 7.5 hours a day in front of a screen – either TV or computer; and only 2 percent of public high schools in the U.S. have PE classes. This, she says, is an area that needs major improvement.
American Grown – which is now available online and in bookstores nationwide – is said to be ‘inspirational and instructive, and provide ideas and resources to get people involved creating community, school and urban gardens, as well as supporting local farmers markets.’ The book also reportedly includes some of the Obama family’s favorite healthy recipes. And since the White House lawn and garden are considered a national park, proceeds for the book will go to funding these operations.
Images via Pursuitist and Apitherapy News