Presidents & Food: George H. W. Bush


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In honor of Presidents' Day, Gut Check celebrates great moments in presidential food history.

How will history remember George H. W. Bush, 41st President of the United States? If you say badly, then there's a good chance you're a broccoli fan. In one of the oddest controversies to engulf a president, Bush the Elder enraged farmers -- and delighted kindergartners -- with the following statement:
I do not like broccoli and I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli. Now look, this is the last statement I'm going to have on broccoli. There are truckloads of broccoli at this very minute descending on Washington. My family is divided. For the broccoli vote out there: Barbara loves broccoli. She has tried to make me eat it. She eats it all the time herself. So she can go out and meet the caravan of broccoli that's coming in.
Did Bush's statement impact broccoli consumption. Let us consult the Web site, which swears by the motto "Honor. Glory. Broccoli":
In addition [to not eating broccoli], the President also banned broccoli from the White House and Air Force One menus. Luckily, forward-thinking broccoli growers from California shipped 10 tons of broccoli to the White House. Sadly, Bush refused to try the broccoli and it was donated to local food banks. While some broccoli historians question the impact of President Bush's anti-broccoli stance, in fact, the U.S.D.A. reports that U.S. broccoli consumption hit an all-time peak the year before he took office and then declined by as much as 15% during his presidency.


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