Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Earth Week 2011 Open Letter to First Lady Michelle Obama

Two full grown Nigerian dwarf goats and one 8 year old girl.
April 6, 2011

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC  20500
FAX: 202-456-2461

Dear First Lady Michelle Obama:

It has been over a year since I first wrote to you about how you can help people throughout our great nation advance their local food security efforts. My original letter can be viewed here. I am writing to you once again in light of the upcoming Earth Week celebration (April 16 - April 22)  to ask for your action.

I am a mother, a wife, an educator, a scientist, a community gardener, and a practitioner of nourishing traditions that include urban agriculture as part of my back to the basics philosophy of feeding and nurturing my family.  I am trying to teach my daughter about healthy food choices, local and sustainable food security, and self-sufficiency while respecting the animals and the earth that provide for us.  I no longer allow my daughter to eat the food provided at school because it is overloaded with fat and carbohydrates and contains minimal fresh fruits and vegetables. Yet she begs me to allow her to eat the school "food" because she sees her friends eating it and this is what the Long Beach Unified School District offers; what kind of nutritional message is this teaching our children? In addition, it is amazing to see how many children have no idea where their food comes from. Every school (not just a handful, and particularly in the city) should have an organic vegetable garden that is incorporated into the K-12 curriculum to teach our children about real food, nutrition, healthy lifestyle choices, sustainable agriculture, and even science. Moreover every urban center should develop a demonstration urban farm to serve as a positive example that educates the children and adults of our community while providing them with another source of local real food and life skill training opportunities. I believe this is our only hope for a sustainable future.

I applaud you for setting a positive example by planting a food garden at the White House. I am writing to ask that you please take the next step in educating the public about the benefits and suitability of urban agriculture by adding egg-laying poultry but especially miniature dairy goats to your White House urban yard. Other great cities allow this type of urban agriculture, including San Francisco, Seattle, Portland OR, Pasadena, Oakland, and even NYC (which allows poultry and recently honey bees). Small scale urban agriculture is beneficial in so many ways, not the least of which is in allowing us to reconnect with the earth that provides us sustenance.

I wish to legalize miniature goats in the city of Long Beach, CA. Two or three female Nigerian dwarf goats can provide a year round supply of milk to a family, perhaps with enough to spare to make yogurt and cheese. Goat milk is more nutritious and less allergenic than cow milk, more people in the word drink goat milk versus cow milk, and since goats were domesticated about 10,000 years ago (about the same time as dogs) many cultures throughout the world including immigrants to the US are quite familiar with raising goats. Not only could goats provide a renewable source of food to nourish a family, they could also provide a renewable source of fiber and fertilizer. They can be put to use to clear brush, to mow pesticide-free lawns, and to compost kitchen waste. On top of all these “uses,” they make great pets; they are friendly, quiet, relatively docile animals that are great fun, providing hours of wholesome  education and entertainment for the family and neighborhood children. Contrary to popular belief, they do not stink (except for in-tact males), they do not attract flies and vermin, and they do not pose a significant health threat to the public, certainly compared to dogs that can transmit rabies or compared to cats that can transmit toxoplasmosis, to name just a few.

To celebrate this year’s Earth Week, I urge you to add 3 or more miniature goats to your White House urban yard, breed them, and make the birthday a public event and celebration for a sustainable future. Once the mothers give birth, they will provide milk (and public education) long after the babies are weaned.

For more information about urban agriculture and its many benefits to your personal well-being and to the well-being of our local and global communities, please visit my website at In addition, I urge you to show your support by signing my online petition in favor of urban agriculture in Long Beach, California ( It would mean a great deal to me.

Yours sincerely,

Donna L. Marykwas, Ph.D.
Founder and Executive Director
Growing a more sustainable future

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You might also be interested in Donna’s other work as National Science News Examiner, Long Beach Urban Agriculture Examiner and founder and executive director of Long Beach Grows.

Copyright © 2010, 2011 Donna Marykwas; All rights reserved.

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