Mrs. Obama

Has the First Lady Crossed the Line?

Though I have some issues with the job the President has done thus far I have continued to have respect for Mrs. Obama.  Her mission to teach people how to grow their own produce is commendable.  More than that it’s admirable.

The White House kitchen garden has inspired thousands of school gardens across the nation.  That is a positive not only because it teaches children to have a relationship with their food but because it has helped ease a little of the burden on the cash strapped tax payers in this country.

But. . .

HypocriteRecently it was revealed that Mrs. Obama has been meeting behind closed doors with the National Restaurant Association (the other NRA) in an attempt to impose her personal views on the menus of tens of thousands of restaurants.  The First Lady has tried everything short of having her husband send in the troops.  She has spent the past year trying to strong arm restaurant owners to reduce the size of portions and to, in essence, replace everything a child likes to eat with everything they hate.

With all due respect, Mrs. Obama, get your nose out of my menu.  Let’s set aside for a moment that this is an egregious infringement on our civil liberties.  Let’s also jump over the fact that a non-employee of the federal government is attempting to make US domestic policy.  Let’s get straight to the burr under my saddle.

When Mrs. Obama went from setting a positive example of proper diet to mandating proper diet she moved into the category of hypocrite.  It’s one thing to wage the war on obesity.  It’s a whole different story when you try to force me to follow your example while your husband is auctioning off the nation’s food system to the very people responsible for causing the obesity epidemic.

In 2007 then Senator Obama spoke at the Iowa Democratic Primary Debate saying, “. . . we can also improve the economic engines in a lot of these rural communities, and that is something that I’m absolutely committed to doing as President, but it’s going to require overcoming the excess influence of agribusiness lobbying.”  He would go on to say “I don’t take a dime of their [lobbyist] money, and when I am President, they won’t find a job in my White House.”

Well Mr. Obama’s very first hire after his election was to tab Monsanto lobbyist Tom Vilsack to head the USDA.  His very first hire mind you.  Not White House Chief of Staff, not Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense but Secretary of Agriculture.  Campaigns, after all, are not cheap.  He has since gone on to place no less than six lobbyists for the agribusiness giant into policy-making positions in the USDA and FDA that directly regulate Monsanto.

Granted Michelle is not responsible for Barry’s business dealings.  After all we elected him, not her.  However, before Mrs. Obama dare try to force us to reorder our homes she should first take a look at her own.

I believe that in covertly trying to manipulate the populace into changing their eating habits while her own husband continues an unholy alliance with agribusiness is nothing short of hypocrisy.  There is nothing worse than a hypocrite for a hypocrite combines all of the distasteful characteristics of a con artist with the self-righteous edicts of a narcissist.

The respect I once had for the First Lady is now gone.  I cannot trust someone capable of such hypocrisy.  By employing cloak and dagger techniques like this Michelle Obama has done serious damage to her own image.  However, it would be easy for Mrs. Obama to earn our trust back.  She simply need to publicly admonish the President for hiring Vilsack, Michael Taylor and all those other Monsanto lobbyists.  Do that, Mrs. Obama, and you begin to regain our respect; do it not and I must politely ask you to butt out.

Obamas Getting Tough On Obesity?

This week we learned, ”People who drank two or more soft drinks a week had an 87% increased risk — or nearly twice the risk — of pancreatic cancer compared to individuals consuming no soft drinks,” says Noel T. Mueller, MPH, lead research associate at the Cancer Control Program at Georgetown University Medical Center.  This from the recently published study in a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention?

The study was done to test a theory that high glycemic beverages like soft drinks and commercial grade fruit juices are a major contributor to pancreatic cancer.  The study found that commercial grade juices, though extremely high on the glycemic scale, do not effect pancreatic cancer risk.  So what could be the difference?

Oh yeah, juice contains a natural sugar.  Soft drinks contain a synthetic one, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).  Coincidence?

HFCS of course is the brainchild of one of the wealthiest corporations in the world, Monsanto.

This week we also learned that the Obama’s have announced a new child obesity initiative with cheflebrity Jamie Oliver, Let’s Move.  This would be exciting if it weren’t such an utter fraud.  While Oliver is genuine, Mrs. Obama made her announcement with USDA chief Tom Vilsak (legendary Monsanto lobbyist) and Surgeon General Regina Benjamin (a Burger King consultant) at her side.

Also standing with the first lady was Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, a career politician with absolutely no experience or training in social services or nutrition.  Ms. Sebelius has degrees in political science and public administration, the academic equivalents of basket weaving.

With a stroke of his mighty pen, President Obama signed an executive order that outlines the ever expanding federal government’s role in a problem that affects one-third of the school-age children in the country.  An issue that he claims as, “one of the most urgent health issues we face in this country,” with all of the sincerity of a fox offering to guard the hen house.

While proper exercise is another key factor in childhood obesity the chief cause is diet.  Between diet and exercise, diet is the most important.  If children enjoy a proper diet then the amount of exercise they receive in an average school day would suffice. But a diet of processed foods containing HFCS and hydrogenated oils requires much more exercise to negate the negative effects of that diet.

That’s why the Obama’s Let’s Move serves as little more than a diversion from the real issue.  The people the President has appointed to make the decisions about what is and is not healthy are not qualified to make these decisions.  People like Sebelius, Benjamin, Vilsak and many others do not base their policies on what is best for the country but what is best for their corporate masters.

If President Obama were genuine he would not have traded our children’s well-being for campaign contributions.  He likely did not chose his appointees because of careful examination of the facts but more likely to repay the people who financed the most expensive Presidential campaign in history. Clearly they where not chosen based on qualifications.  Holding a press conference vowing to end the obesity epidemic while surrounded by the very people championing the chemicals causing that epidemic is at best  hypocritical.

food revolution

White House Kitchen Garden a Facade?


The White House has certainly touted it’s Kitchen Garden, even going so far as to having it featured as the “theme ingredient” on a special Iron Chef:America. I am sure the first lady is passionate and devoted to the sustainable, local and/or organic lifestyle. Mrs. Obama certainly seems sincere in her concerns for the environment and in rescuing our children from the obesity epidemic created by agribusiness juggernauts like Monsanto and their foot soldiers, the fast food industry.

I do not, however, believe her husband cares about these issues. After all his actions suggest an ambivalence reminiscent of his predecessor. Supposedly, pandering to big business is the realm of Republicans but President Obama has dangerously littered the government with agribusiness pawns.

Despite being given a list of 12 qualified candidates (known as the sustainable dozen) for key positions in his administration, the President has made numerous suspect appointments to bureaus charged with protecting the public’s welfare. No, suspect is not the right word, nefarious is more accurate. The conflict of interest created by these appointments is borderline criminal, not unlike naming John Dillinger Secretary of the Treasury.

Take the President’s choice to head the Department of Agriculture (USDA), Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. Vilsack has long been a champion of genetically modified (GM) corn and other grains. Genetically modifying corn to be more resistant to herbicides was a process developed by Monsanto in the 1970’s. But, as science has since proven, GM corn is the root cause of every e coli outbreak on record. Ever.

Vilsack has such a notorious reputation for being a puppet for agribusiness mega corporations that a satirical PSA was actually commissioned by environmentalists. That’s right, environmentalists are opposed to this Democrat. Here’s the video:

After being pummeled by his own supporters for selling out the USDA to Biotech, Obama did throw them a bone. The President named Kathleen Merrigan, director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment Program at Tufts University (and one of the sustainable dozen) as his Sustainable Foods Czar. Sure it is just a token gesture and the position is largely meaningless but it calmed the masses. At least for a while.

Another one of President Obama’s appointments was naming Michael Taylor as special assistant to the FDA Commissioner for food safety. Taylor will actually be making laws that affect the profitability of Monsanto, the primary client of his employer prior to joining the Obama administration. Before working for Monsanto, Taylor was part of the George H W Bush administration, again making policy for the FDA. Prior to that stint with the FDA, Taylor worked for Monsanto. His resume is the very definition of “conflict of interest.”

Green publication The Huffington Post has called Taylor, “The person who may be responsible for more food-related illness and death than anyone in history,” here’s what else they had to say:

If GMOs are indeed responsible for massive sickness and death, then the individual who oversaw the FDA policy that facilitated their introduction holds a uniquely infamous role in human history. That person is Michael Taylor. He had been Monsanto’s attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA. Soon after, he became Monsanto’s vice president and chief lobbyist.

Now Barrack Obama is not the first President to turn the keys to the nation’s safety over to Monsanto. As mentioned above the first President Bush also employed Michael Taylor despite an obvious conflict of interest. President Bill Clinton had a troubling number of his advisers moving into lucrative positions with Monsanto once his term was over, like Marcia Hale an assistant to the President for intergovernmental relations. It’s certain that the so-called “Monsanto revolving door” is not one of Obama’s promised changes.

The President naming the head of New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection, Lisa Jackson, to lead the EPA has raised an eyebrow or two. Jackson does not have documented ties to big business like Taylor or Vilsack. At the same time she has shown an alarming familiarity with lobbyists even going so far as to hire corporate lobbyists like Nancy Wittenberg to work on her staff.

While most feel Jackson’s tenure with the NJDEP was marred in ineffective leadership and finger-pointing, some environmentalist groups insist that her lack of production was not her fault. Apparently the one thing that both sides agree on is that Jackson accomplished nothing during her term.

As his Surgeon General, President Obama has picked Alabama physician Regina Benjamin. Dr. Benjamin was given the assignment of helping Americans get healthier. Her work with rural, impoverished patients in the heart of Katrina country is quite noble. But the well documented fact that she accepted $10,000 from Burger King just before joining the Obama regime is understandably curious.

The money was purportedly for serving on a nutritional advisory panel with the fast food giant. There is something peculiar about the nation’s top doctor being on the payroll of a company that produces the Angry Whopper, a sandwich with 1120 calories (657 from fat), 175 mg of cholesterol, 73 grams of total fat, 25 of which are saturated, three are the heart disease causing trans fats. Oh, and let’s not forget that virtually everything Burger King sells incorporates Monsanto’s Frakencorn into it, the burgers, the buns, even the soft drinks.

Though the national media have tried to portray these appointments as positive moves, farm-to-table advocates do not share in the enthusiasm. Sure there are a handful of White House orchestrated blogs like Obama Foodorama whose job is to spin these Presidential missteps, but most have found the business-as-usual appointments disconcerting.

If the White House Kitchen Garden inspires others to plant their own then that is outstanding. Surely growing the vegetables that are used in the White House does slightly lower the burden on the over-taxed citizenry. The first lady is setting a wonderful example. And while it is a quaint idea, from the outside looking in it appears to be just another parlor trick. Clearly the President’s stance on the environment lacks transparency.

Cristeta Comerford: White House Executive Chef

The White House Executive Chef is in charge of all menus for the First Family as well as all official state functions.  Though the White House Executive Chef serves at the pleasure of the President of the United States, typically they work side-by-side with the first lady.

Walter Scheib III served at the post beginning in 1994 under President Bill Clinton.  President George W. Bush saw no reason to replace Chef Scheib and retained him until 2005 when he left to enjoy life as a celebrity chef.  He has since battled Iron Chef Cat Cora and published a book White House Chef: Eleven Years, Two Presidents, One Kitchen.

To fill the void left by Chef Scheib’s departure, Laura Bush tabbed his talented assistant Cristeta Comerford to be the new White House Executive Chef making her the first woman and first minority to hold the title.  Mrs. Bush had reportedly been very impressed with Comerford’s handling of large State events.

Chef Comerford’s voyage into history began in the Philippines where she lived her first 23 years on earth.  Just prior to immigrating to the US, Comerford attended the University of the Philippines majoring in food technology.

Upon reaching the States, Comerford took a job in Chicago cooking for Sheraton Hotel and Resorts.  Since then she has worked in Washington DC, Vienna and for Hyatt Regency.  Her rise has been meteoric and deftly earned.

Apparently, new first lady Michelle Obama was also impressed as she retained Chef Comerford saying, “Cristeta Comerford brings such incredible talent to the White House operation and came very highly regarded from the Bush family,” in a statement released by the transition team.  Mrs. Obama is quite the foodie who has even started a White House Kitchen Garden.

On Sunday January 3rd. Chef Comerford joins Iron Chef Bobby Flay in Kitchen Stadium to battle the team of Iron Chef Mario Batali and culinary legend Emeril Legasse in the first Iron Chef: America of the new year.  Comerford’s boss, Michelle Obama will be in attendance.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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