Uncle Sam Wants You to Garden!

With so many food movements and trends gaining popularity nowadays, from gluten-free baking, to local, urban farms to raw food diets, it can be hard to keep track of how it all began. In his article, "The Real Founder of Today's Gardening Trend: Uncle Sam?" for The Atlantic, reporter Corby Kummer pays a visit to the National Archives new exhibition, "What's Cooking, Uncle Sam?" and discovers that these food movements may have had their start with that historic personification of the American government, Uncle Sam. At the exhibition, Kummer came across a poster from 1925 encouraging Americans to grow their own vegetables gardens to cut food costs. Kummer goes on to detail the rest of the exhibit, mainly focusing on America's progression from rural and agrarian to the mechanized epicenter that we are familiar with today.

We can see that inspiring poster as a spark of sorts, beginning with the home gardener's of yore and now blazing full flame with the countless urban farmers, green shoppers, and food justice activists that make up our population, which is shifting to become more health conscious and eco-friendly. And just as in years past, the government today plays a big role in the course of this shift as well.

From the upcoming 2012 Farm Bill, that could hopefully redistribute government subsidies and help many farmers out of unemployment and into the world food market, to the recently released MyPlate graphic, aimed to promote healthy eating habits and portion control. Released in earlier this month by First Lady Michelle Obama and the USDA, the MyPlate graphic is one of the initiatives the government has launched to encourage healthy choices and combat the growing obesity epidemic in America. Mrs. Obama created the Let's Move! Campaign, which had its first anniversary this winter, and it has successfully benefitted kids across the country, encouraging them to take interest in nutrition and helping them become more active.

I have had a fantastic experience with Mrs. Obama's Chefs Move To Schools initiative, helping school kids foster an interest in healthy home cooking and giving them the essential tools they need to make good choices in the future. It's great to see so much interest and involvement in food justice movements within the national arena.

Even actress Gweneth Paltrow is on board, having just published her cookbook, My Father's Daughter, which focuses on family-friendly, healthy recipes and offers helpful advice to encourage kids to get passionate about food. Highlighting these issues and giving them a platform within the government and the media is a great way to keep the momentum moving and the public interested.

To read Kummer's article in full, click here.

Photo: gardener41