The War on Homegrown Tarragon

April 23, 2009
Michele Obama with Tom Vilsack and fifth graders in White Hosue garden.
Fifth graders plant an organic garden with the First Lady… while Congress is trying to pass a bill to outlaw organic farming.

Two weeks ago, reports the White House Blog, First Lady Michele Obama and local elementary students planted an organic garden on the White House lawn.

Sounds great. But some things don’t add up…

First, Tom Vilscak, Agricultural Secretary, joined them. According to the Organic Consumers Assocation, he has “a glowing reputation as being a shill for agribusiness biotech giants like Monsanto.”

Secondly, a few days after planting, the Mid America CropLife Association (a group which represents Monsanto, Dupont and AgroSciences) sent a letter to Ms. Obama  suggesting she (and I assume the fifth graders, too) start using “crop protection products.” Something tells me pesticide spray suits don’t come in kid sizes.

The letter went onto say: “If Americans were still required to farm to support their family’s basic food and fiber needs, would the U.S. have been leaders in the advancement of science, communication, education, medicine, transportation and the arts?”

Thirdly, while the First Lady plants organic zucchini, Congress is trying to pass H.R. 875 — the agricultural bill that many believe will put an end to all organic and local farming.

In the Spirit of Politics
It All Seems Very Contradictive

One can’t help but wonder if the White House’s Garden is a ploy to distract us from the takeover of industrial agricultural giants, genetically modified seeds and chemical pesticides. Or is it just a matter of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing?

Yes, it’s undeniable that industrial agriculture has enabled the U.S. to progress so quickly in the last 150 years.

But are American’s happier? According to Business Week a “study from Britain’s University of Leicester examined a range of statistical data to devise a ranking of the world’s happiest nations.” The U.S. ranked 23rd.

Are we healthier? The World Health Organization ranked the United State’s health system as 37th after less powerful nations like Oman (8th), Saudi Arabia (26th) and Iceland (15th).

Are we wealthier? The national debt totals $11,195,822,978.418.77 so ticks U.S. National Debt Clock at the time of writing article. In 1850, the U.S.only owed $63,452,773.55 (

Can We Keep Up With This Type of Progress?

Industrial farming is based completely on the use of oil. You need it to power the machinery, create pesticides and fertilizers.

The big problem of relying on oil is simple: We will run out. And long before we run out, it will become far too difficult to extract. (Many scientists believe this will happen in the next 2-10 years.)

Other negatives of industrial farming include total reliance on toxic chemicals, disconnection from the land, pollution of the environment, sub-quality food, de-nourished soil…

Active Activism

So, despite all the contradictory news about the White House garden, I think the First Lady has a brilliant idea. It’s the perfect way to revolt against the War on Homegrown Tarragon and get back to the land.

Cover of Organic Food Garening Beginner's Manual by Julie Villani
Julie Villani’s Organic Food Gardening Beginner’s Manual.

Next post, I’ll share with you the many economic, social, health and spiritual benefits I’ve discovered from having my own garden (both in the big city of New York and out here in Hawaii). Plus, I’ll post photos of the large garden I share with members of the South Maui Sustainability group.

Until then, if you want some help starting your own garden, I like Julie Villani’s Organic Food Gardening Beginner’s Manual. It comes with a copy of Seed Saving Tips & Techniques (very important!) and a Gardening Diary for keeping track of results.

It’s available for instant download at (if you purchase through this link a portion of sales supports this blog).

LISTEN to “Live! with Dr. Carolyn Dean”, Monday’s 4-6pm PST on Achieve Radio. Hear archived recordings at 2012 RnA Radio.
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Dr. Carolyn Dean The Doctor of the Future

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WARNING: This blog is not to be misconstrued as medical advice. It’s up to you to make the decisions about your own health. I have zero staff and I cannot answer personal health questions by email. However, please send general questions that I may be able to answer in my blog. But first, google my name with the condition you are inquiring about and see if I’ve already addressed it somewhere on the web.

P.S. For more about rising oil costs and the availability of food, see my previous post Would You Travel 9,600 Kilometers JUST to Have Dinner?.

P.P.S. On a much more positive note – and a topic for another post – is the answer to peak oil: It’s called cold fusion. You may have seen it on 60 Minutes last Sunday.

P.P.P.S. A special thanks to for first introducing me to these issues about the White House garden and for the tarragon title I used for this post.

P.P.P.P.S. Join the discussion! What do you think about the noted contradictions about agricultural policies coming out of the White House? Leave your feedback in the comment box below…

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