The 2008 Presidential election has taken the politics of food to a whole new level, albeit a low one.
Ever since Barack Obama mentioned the high cost of arugula at a campaign event in Iowa, he’s been branded by some as an elitist who’s out of touch with regular people. He apparently further cemented that image by turning down a cup of coffee at a campaign stop at a diner and asking for orange juice instead.
Now, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has taken issue with the Obama camp’s orders for the food that will be served at the upcoming Democratic convention:
He’s already in danger of seeming too prissy about food… The “lean ‘n’ green” catering guidelines… bar fried food and instruct that, “on the theory that nutritious food is more vibrant, each meal should include ‘at least three of the following colors: red, green, yellow, blue/purple, and white.’ (Garnishes don’t count.)
Somehow, in Maureen Dowd’s world, eating healthily makes Obama humorless and thus potentially unelectable. What is so off-putting about good eating habits?
Of course, Americans have been quick to revere less-than-healthy Presidential dietary idiosyncrasies: we loved that President Reagan loved Jelly Bellies, that George H.W. Bush hated broccoli, and, although he took a lot of flak for his penchant for McDonald’s fries, we felt like Bill Clinton was just like us because he gave into Mac Attacks, too.
In this era of rising obesity rates, the threat of a diabetes epidemic, and pediatricians reccomending putting kids as young as eight years old on cholesterol meds because so many of them eat like… well… crap, how great would it be to have a President who’s also a gastronomic role model?
Like the Reagan era when Jelly Belly sales skyrocketed, maybe there would be an Obama effect at farmer’s markets and produce sections across America. People would think twice before single-handedly polishing off the Bloomin’ Onion from Outback Steakhouse. And parents could have the power of the President behind them in that eternal dinner time battle. “Don’t you want to grow up to be the leader of the free world? Then eat your veggies because President Obama does!”