What the president’s diet says about America
(CNN) Thomas Jefferson may have been America's first foodie. The Founding Father developed a taste for French cuisine, grew a vast vegetable garden and cherished a farm-to- table diet.
Abraham Lincoln was more of a modest eater. According to historians, the 16th president "liked apples and hot coffee," and didn't demand much in a meal.
On the other hand, Ronald Reagan was known for his sweet tooth. The country's 40th president munched on jelly beans to quit smoking and quickly fell in love with candy, often keeping a stash nearby in the White House.
Now, it seems that a fast food connoisseur will enter the White House.
President-elect Donald Trump has been known to favor Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s and the taco bowls that are whipped up in Trump Tower's kitchen.
"But he's not the first one to like McDonald's and Burger King and occasionally that wonderful Popeyes chicken," said William Seale, a historian and journal editor with the White House Historical Association.
"Fast food makes its way through the doors of the White House. From time to time, presidents or even guests will order a Big Mac or the like, and the Secret Service will go pick it up," Seale said. "The Carter children did that and George W. Bush, too."
Bill Clinton also was known to enjoy the McDonald’s menu.
After all, the eating habits of American presidents seem to mirror the ever-evolving diets of the American people, said Suzy Evans, a Newport Beach, California-based literary agent, historian and author of the forthcoming children's book "Abraham Lincoln's Lunch."
"Presidential culinary history might seem insignificant or even trivial," Evans said. "But if you look closely enough, it can teach us much about American social, cultural and political history and the rich and venerable history of dining, diplomacy and the American presidency.". . . . .
"Healthy, 'food-as-fuel' kind of guys could include Woodrow Wilson, a wartime president, and John F. Kennedy, and while Barack Obama does occasionally indulge in pizzas, burgers and ice cream, the Obama's kitchen garden on the White House lawn is part of a long culinary tradition," Evans said.
"It may be that earlier presidents were similarly vigilant about their health, but with George W. Bush, it was seen as important to promote his healthy habits as a way to shape his persona," Bentley said. "That just goes into high gear with the Obamas."
The Obamas not only introduced healthier meals and snacks to the White House, but also promoted healthy eating as a major national issue with first lady Michelle Obama's health and wellness-focused "Let's Move" initiative.
"The Obamas are very calorie-conscious and health-conscious, which is a reflection of the first lady. Her vegetable garden is a serious thing, something permanent for White House residents to come," Seale said.
Now, with the Trump administration, Bentley said, we might see a different model of eating that might be something of a "throwback to the post-World War II era of being enamored with the qualities of fast food."
"You could argue that Trump's food aesthetic is similar to this earlier post-World War II era, where the dominant values for food were sameness, predictability and quantity over quality," she said.
Comments by Stephen Lau
Diets are important to one’s health, but they are very individualized due to the unique makeup of each individual. The kind of food, the quality and the quantity of the food you eat may play a pivotal role in physical and even mental health. Remember, you are what you eat and you become what you eat; your food is your medicine, and your medicine your food. Eating is more than chewing the food and getting the calories for your energy; it requires wisdom—wisdom in eating. Go to Health and Wisdom Tips. Also, read his most recent book You Just Don't Die! to find out how to live as if everything is a miracle despite your many life changes and challenges.