Michelle Obama's controversial rib (Feature)
By Silvia Ayuso Feb 24, 2011, 3:01 GMT
Washington - Beyond Biblical connotations, only a few times in history has a rib given rise to so much talk: media attention in the United States is currently focused on what US First Lady Michelle Obama has for dinner.
Accompanied by her daughters Sasha and Malia, Michelle Obama travelled to Vail, Colorado last weekend to make the most of the public holiday Monday for a bit of skiing.
On Saturday, they went out for dinner at a local restaurant, where according to the Vail Daily the wife of US President Barack Obama ate 'pickled pumpkin salad with arugula and a braised ancho-chile short rib with hominy wild mushrooms and sauteed kale.'
Wait - Did you say rib?
It did not take long for conservative commentators to sharpen their knives and attack Michelle, a staunch campaigner for a more balanced diet in the United States. The first lady had ordered one of the most popular dishes in US cuisine - but also one of the richest in calories.
'The problem is, and dare I say this, it doesn't look like Michelle Obama follows her own nutritionary (sic), dietary advice,' ultra- conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh said Monday.
'And then we hear that she's out eating ribs at 1,500 calories a serving with 141 grams of fat per serving,' he complained.
It mattered little that the restaurant's chef, Kelly Linken, noted that the dish chosen by Michelle Obama had only 600 calories and that most of the fat had been removed from the meat. Or that Linken stressed that the Obamas were on a skiing holiday and that skiing burns up to 6,000 calories per day.
'I'm trying to say that our first lady does not project the image of women that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue,' Limbaugh went on.
This is hardly the first attack on Michelle Obama regarding food.
In early February, the magazine American Spectator pejoratively referred to her as 'America's no. 1 food nanny.' The magazine accused her of hypocrisy for having praised barbecues in Charlotte after her husband's Democratic Party chose that city in North Carolina to host their national convention next year.
'Michelle Obama praising Carolina barbecue? That's like Gandhi praising mixed martial arts fighting,' the magazine said.
The conservative network Fox News has also referred to the first lady as a 'food nanny' in the past.
The criticism goes well beyond whether or not Michelle Obama likes to indulge in a rib, a barbecue or some French fries every once in a while, as the first lady herself knows.
As soon as she got to the White House in January 2009, alarmed by the extremely high rates of child obesity in the United States, Michelle Obama planted a vegetable garden on the residence grounds with the help of young public school students. She regularly invites them back to harvest.
Last year, she launched the programme Let's Move, which is 'dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation' through a healthier, more balanced diet and smaller portions in the country of XXL burgers.
In fact, the figures are grim. Nearly 30 per cent of US children are overweight and destined to suffer diabetes or other related health problems like high blood pressure and cancer later in life if they don't get their weight under control, her website states.
Some conservative sectors, however, regard Michelle's push against obesity as unacceptable government interference with individual liberty, which they insist should rule in the United States.
'Instead of a government thinking that they need to take over and make decisions for us according to some politician or politician's wife's priorities, just leave us alone,' former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said last year.
'What she is telling us is she cannot trust parents to make decisions for their own children, for their own families in what we should eat,' ultraconservative darling Palin said.
Palin had her own recipe to solve the problem.
'Get off our back, and allow us as individuals to exercise our own God-given rights to make our own decisions and then our country gets back on the right track,' she said.
Dana Milbank, a commentator at The Washington Post, notes that the problem is that 'food criticism is an extension of politics.'
'On the left are the purists who think a single tortilla chip is an unacceptable compromise. On the right are those who think any nutritional recommendation amounts to a food dictatorship,' he said in his column Wednesday.
Or, in the words of another commentator at the Vail Daily - which unleashed the controversy with its report on the first lady's dinner - 'some conservative bloggers and talk-show hosts act like the short rib in Michelle Obama's dinner entree was, like Adam's, extracted from them personally.'
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