First lady's organic garden concerns chemical firms

Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama's stylist downplays controversy over Melania Trump jacket Michelle Obama's book sells 725,000 Michelle Obama says she snuck out of White House to celebrate gay marriage legalization MORE planted an organic garden to promote fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet, but some chemical companies are worried it may plant a seed of doubt in consumers’ minds about conventionally grown crops.

“Fresh foods grown conventionally are wholesome and flavorful yet more economical,” the Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) wrote the first lady last month a few days after she and fifth-graders from a local elementary school planted the White House Kitchen Garden.

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The garden is designed to produce fresh fruits and vegetables for the first family and White House staff and guests. The garden itself doesn’t give the group heartburn. The letter also congratulates the first lady “on recognizing the importance of agriculture to America!”

But MACA, which represents agribusinesses like Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences and DuPont Crop Protection, is rather less thrilled about the fact that no chemicals will be used to grow the crops. The group is worried that the decision may give consumers the wrong impression about conventionally grown food.

“We live in a very different world than that of our grandparents. Americans are juggling jobs with the needs of children and aging parents,” the letter states. “The time needed to tend a garden is not there for the majority of our citizens, certainly not a garden of sufficient productivity to supply much of a family’s year-round food needs.”

The blog La Vida Locavore posted the letter last month.

Although pesticides or chemical fertilizers won’t be used on the White House garden, Camille Johnston, spokeswoman for the first lady, said Mrs. Obama wanted to plant the garden to promote the eating of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet.

MACA members just want a little love pointed their way: “As you go about planning and planting the White House garden, we respectfully encourage you to recognize the role conventional agriculture plays in the U.S. in feeding the ever-increasing population, contributing to the U.S. economy and providing a safe and economical food supply.”