First Lady Michelle Obama is charged with sexism and elitism in a new North Carolina State University study of her dietary campaigning.
According to four sociologists, the White House’s hostess in chief’s promotion of home cooking alienates women who do not have access to ample expense accounts and professional kitchen staffs.
“Michelle Obama has . . . been influential in popularizing public health messages that emphasize the role that mothers play when it comes to helping children make healthy choices,” states the report. “The message that good parents—and in particular, good mothers—cook for their families dovetails with increasingly intensive and unrealistic standards of ‘good’ mothering.”
The study analyzed the meal preparation habits of 150 mothers and 12 working-class and poor families — and found that many simply did not have the resources to prepare healthy home-cooked meals.
For example: Poor mothers could not afford to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Some didn’t have reliable transportation to the grocery store. Others lived in small trailers and apartments, or in rooms infested by pests or lacking basic kitchen tools equipment.
Middle-class mothers faced challenges, too. The study also found that many women did not have time to work their jobs and also prepare home-cooked meals — and they felt like bad mothers because of it.
“Our conversations with mothers of young children show us that this emerging standard is a tasty illusion, one that is moralistic, and rather elitist, instead of a realistic vision of cooking today,” the authors stated.
“Intentionally or not, it places the burden of a healthy home-cooked meal on women.”
At a health summit in Washington in March, Michelle Obama announced that promoting home-cooked meals would be the next step in her war on obesity.
“Research clearly shows that home-cooking is one of the single most impactful ways for families to improve their health,” she said.
— Katherine Timpf is a reporter at National Review Online.