November 5th, 2013

Michelle Obama has a Halloween dream

It’s that some day, children will go out trick or treating for fruits and vegetables:

First Lady Michelle Obama held a news conference last night, where she predicted that one day, children would go out on Halloween and beg for healthy food instead of candy.

No, not the Onion.

Michelle is ignoring, or trying to override, the fact that kids gravitate towards sweets even as babies. For most people the desire seems innate, a natural inclination that has some survival value.

Then again, as Katherine Hepburn’s character says to Humphrey Bogart’s in the fabulous “The African Queen”:



Progressives on a mission would often like to ignore the world as it is and make the world a better place—by their definition of “better,” of course. In this they resemble many crusaders, but crusaders would do well to take nature into consideration as much as possible. As far as sweets and children go, it might not be so nice to fool Mother Nature:

As any parent knows, children love sweet-tasting foods. Now, new research from the University of Washington and the Monell Center indicates that this heightened liking for sweetness has a biological basis and is related to children’s high growth rate.

“The relationship between sweet preference and growth makes intuitive sense because when growth is rapid, caloric demands increase. Children are programmed to like sweet taste because it fills a biological need by pushing them towards energy sources,” said Monell geneticist Danielle Reed, PhD, one of the study authors.

Across cultures, children prefer higher levels of sweetness in their foods as compared to adults, a pattern that declines during adolescence. To explore the biological underpinnings of this shift, Reed and University of Washington researcher Susan Coldwell, PhD, looked at sweet preference and biological measures of growth and physical maturation in 143 children between the ages of 11 and 15.

The findings, reported in the journal Physiology & Behavior, suggest that children’s heightened liking for sweet taste is related to their high growth rate and that sweet preferences decline as children’s physical growth slows and eventually stops

On Halloween we give out sweets because they are treats, something a bit forbidden and special. Why would children beg for fruits and vegetable instead, as the First Lady suggests? I can think of only one reason: if they’ve been deprived of them, or of food in general.

And since now I’ve got “The African Queen” on the brain, I’ve got to add this clip. Which has nothing to do with Michelle and sweets, but I like it (especially Hepburn’s masterful little chin quiver that begins at around 2:13)

[ADDENDUM: Commenter "Ann" provided a transcript of Michelle Obama's speech. Apparently she didn't explicitly make a Halloween reference in her remarks, although she did use the word "begging." It was the newspaper headline that said she was referring to Halloween. The context was the date (Oct. 30).]

20 Responses to “Michelle Obama has a Halloween dream”

  1. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    It strains credulity to imagine that Michelle is ignoring, or trying to override, the fact that kids gravitate towards sweets even as babies. She has two daughters and every parent knows that children love and even crave sweets.

    No, it’s far more likely that Michelle Obama’s prediction that one day, children would go out on Halloween and beg for healthy food instead of candy is based in the certain knowledge that in the leftist gulag of which she dreams, children will not be allowed to seek sweets on Halloween and that adults will only be allowed to offer healthy foods.

    There’s a good chance that NYC will be at the forefront of that trend btw…

    Though the reality of the leftist gulag will not be children begging for healthy treats but begging for food, period.

  2. Conrad Says:

    This is so stupid that it’s hard to discuss in a serious manner. However, it does seem to illustrate the inability of the left to grasp how incentives work. Somebody probably told Mrs. Obama that kids eat “x” amount of Halloween candy every year. She thinks: “Ahh, imagine how wonderful it would be if instead of eating ‘x’ amount of Halloween candy, kids were eating ‘x’ amount of Halloween vegetables.” She doesn’t get that the reason that the quantity is “x” is because we’re talking about candy, not vegetables. These items aren’t interchangeable as far as kids (or anyone else, frankly) are concerned.

    Here’s another example: The government has imposed increasingly high CAFE standards on cars, thus dictating, in effect, the size and types of cars that can be sold in the U.S. The idea is, “Wouldn’t it be great if instead of all those big, high performance vehicles many Americans have loved to own for 100 years, we mandated that cars need to be smaller, lighter, and generally more boring than ever, making them more like the cars people drive in the rest of the world?” So, we impose CAFE standards and — long story short — to everyone’s shock and dismay, U.S. automakers can’t make as much money as they used to and they go bankrupt.

    Liberals never seem to notice that all their solutions just make life in the U.S. crappier and crappier.

  3. holmes Says:

    I think childhood obesity is a problem, but I think it stems more from bad parents than anything. But the Left would like the State to augment (read: replace) parenting. It is the wonderful Father to us all. Now eat your broccoli, kids (or adults, you’re both the same to the Father.)

  4. roc scssrs Says:

    But the clip does refer to Michelle’s husband. At 1:27 Kate says, “You are a liar…”

  5. DNW Says:

    Neoneocon says,

    “Michelle is ignoring, or trying to override, the fact that kids gravitate towards sweets even as babies. For most people the desire seems innate, a natural inclination that has some survival value.”

    I was reading something a few weeks or months back written by a woman who had been a fairly ardent feminist and whose views on abortion had moderated through time. She remarked as to how as she once understood feminism, birth control and abortion were positively necessary in order to liberate women from – and here’s the pay dirt – the tyranny of biology.

    I had forgotten completely in all the talk of the tyranny of patriarchy and the tyranny of capitalism and all the other usual tyrannies, that there was an additional tyranny which needed to be overcome: the tyranny of the natural norm and the biological. I guess that works in parallel with the progressive view that although nature (as they see it) knows no justice, it is mankind’s task to make the world “just”.

    However unlike the Platonist whose material world devaluing views they at first glance seem to be aping, the progressive would not subscribe to the proposition that there exists a realm of ideal forms constituting the really real.

    And, since on the progressive view teleology, or even teleonomy, are a complete illusion at worst or merely part of the natural order of tyranny at best, what really is, can be no guide to what “should be”.

    What’s that leave the progressive with as an arbitration or sorting tool? An urge?

    If so, somehow progressives seem to overlook the fact that their urges and perspectives regarding transformation are themselves, nothing more than a seamless part of an ex hypothesi non-prescriptive “what is”.

    What’s really left then? Just a kind of non-logical madness.

    An example of which I believe Neo may have used before. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/31/nyregion/shulamith-firestone-feminist-writer-dies-at-67.html?_r=0

    “Just as the end goal of socialist revolution was not only the elimination of the economic class privilege but of the economic class distinction itself,” Ms. Firestone wrote, “so the end goal of feminist revolution must be … not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself: genital differences between human beings would no longer matter culturally.”

    In the utopian future Ms. Firestone envisioned, reproduction would be utterly divorced from sex: conception would be accomplished through artificial insemination, with gestation taking place outside the body in an artificial womb. …”

  6. Ann Says:

    I’m not one to root for Michelle Obama, but she didn’t actually say that kids would one day be begging for veggies and fruits on Halloween; I think that was the headline writer’s invention. What she did say was this:

    So just imagine what will happen when we take our kids to the grocery store and they see the Sesame Street Muppets lining all over the produce aisle. Just imagine. Imagine. (Laughter.) Mel’s eyes are like, oh, it’s going to be good. (Laughter.) Just imagine what it’s going to be like, moms and dads, when our kids are begging us to buy them fruits and vegetables instead of cookies, candy and chips. It can happen.

    That’s what this new collaboration between Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association is all about. It’s about showing our kids that healthy food can be fun and that fruits and vegetables just don’t make us feel good, but they also taste good. So this is a very important step forward.

    More here.

  7. Beldar Says:

    How does POTUS spousal unit feel about thermally treated chicken embryos and beer?

  8. kaba Says:

    Growing up in the mid-fifties in rural Kentucky it was not unusual for neighbors to pass out home grown apples or pears as Halloween treats. But then there were distant reports of some people inserting needles or pins in fruit and so giving fruit was discouraged. In fact there were PSA’s asking children who had received anything that wasn’t individually wrapped to either throw it away or to bring it to a hospital for X-ray.

  9. neo-neocon Says:

    Ann:

    Well, headline writers do sometimes screw up, so it’s possible there wasn’t any Halloween reference. I’d have to see the entire speech to be sure, and I couldn’t find it anywhere. The speech was given on October 30, so a Halloween tie-in may have been there, but perhaps not.

    I think it’s even worse, though, if there isn’t a Halloween angle. Because of the word “begging” (the thing that made it seem like Halloween was the reference). Why would kids have to beg parents for fruits and vegetables unless they were starving, malnourished, and/or neglected? Of course, fruits and vegetables are expensive, and some poor families who might want them have trouble affording them. But I don’t think that’s what she’s talking about.

    It just smacks of oddness and compulsion.

  10. expat Says:

    Holmes has it right. Parents have to put nourishing meals on the table regularly for their kids. This is probably one of the first signals kids get that their parents (especially Mom) care about them. Today’s young single moms who throw ready made meals at their kids whenever they scream are failing to establish a baseline normal life for them. The treats should be seen as treats–limited to extra goodies. A cookie never hurt anyone.

    Maybe we should take up a collection to send Michelle some carrots for Christmas.

  11. Ann Says:

    Neo,

    I provided the link to the full text of her remarks in my comment above. It was to the White House website. It should be a verbatim document. She made the remarks when she was announcing the collaboration with Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association on October 30.

  12. neo-neocon Says:

    Ann:

    Thanks. I’ll put a correction up when I have a moment.

  13. smith Says:

    Gee, this year I gave out soup but the kids didn’t seem to like it as their candy got all wet.

  14. Ann Says:

    I really think encouraging kids to eat vegetables and fruits is a far cry from quasi-tyrannical overreach. And putting labels with Sesame Street characters on apples, etc., is simply doing the same thing cereal producers do, for instance.

    As for using the word “begging” — when I read her full remarks I pictured her emphasizing that word in a lighthearted manner, sort of like saying, “yeah, I know, but it could happen” kind of way.

  15. kit Says:

    Our Creator endowed us with sweet receptors on our tongues because He meant for us to enjoy life. Manna, which fell from Heaven to sustain the Israelites, was sweet. Israel was described as a land of milk and honey, not kale and mustard greens.
    Jesus Christ was the living bread which fell from Heaven and all his teachings were sweet.

    There is nothing wrong with candy in moderation but i cannot abide Michelle or her husband even in doses so small you would need the highest power electron microscope to see them. Even a speck of the obamas is too much for me. I will give Michelle one thing and that is “sweet” is an adjective that will never be applied to her.

  16. Ymarsakar Says:

    They want to make your child go around threatening people for food.

    Do you guys get the true irony behind that, given their SEIU and TSA thugs in training?

  17. southpaw Says:

    Good lord. I wonder if there is anything about America these 2 joyless, humorless, turds they don’t want to change?
    Why don’t they just leave and go someplace where the people appreciate being told everyday what a crappy place they live in, by a couple of spoiled rotten do-nothing’s who live off the hard work of the people they openly dislike.

    These two were born to be King and Queen of the little people, given unique abilities to shape a our wretched and unfair parcel of land into a veritable utopia, glorious and perfect in every way, a beneficiary of their brilliance and superior understanding of everything. There seems to be nothing they can’t fix or change for the greater good of society, with which they are so deeply and personally connected. It is only through a blessing from heaven that we are the lucky ones to have such talented and generous leaders.

  18. Simon Says:

    I have to wonder if it might not be good to live in a world where candy and cakes were not an option. I know I am utterly incapable of not eating them and I also know they are furring up my arteries by the day. They will most likely kill me in my early 60s like my Dad if I continue they way I am.

    I kind of really want the government to ban sugar, tax it very heavily or something. Save me from myself.

    All this said, kids are never going to go trick or treating for vegetables. Super ripe tasty raspberries and strawberries maybe, but even that seems unlikely.

  19. Hangtown Bob Says:

    “First Lady Michelle Obama held a news conference last night, where she predicted that one day, children would go out on Halloween and beg for healthy food instead of candy.”

    Well……… If the economy takes a nose-dive like it may very well do in the future, some children may be going out EVERY day begging for ANY food that they can get.

  20. Ymarsakar Says:

    I kind of really want the government to ban sugar, tax it very heavily or something. Save me from myself.

    We have a bullet for that purpose. That way the rest of the world is left alone and can live in peace, and only those who need to go, get going.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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