July 17th, 2010
02:24 AM ET

From the farm through the White House farmers market to the table

Washington (CNN) - A peach is a peach is a peach – that is until you’ve had a tree ripened peach, picked just moments before you bite into it.  It will change the way you look at fruit. At least it did for me.

Whole foodies, locavores, roof top gardeners, whatever food trend you’re into, bringing food from the farm to the table is undoubtedly hard work.  I got the chance to see just how hard when I followed food from a local farm to a farmers market and then to the dinner table at a D.C. restaurant.

My journey started in West Virginia where I met up with Eli Cook, a farmer who owns approximately 200 acres of land two hours outside of Washington, D.C.

Eli brings fresh, whole foods to six area farmers markets three days a week, including the White House farmer’s market, located across the park from its namesake. The job requires Eli to put in about 100 hours of work each week during farming season but for him, it’s a passion.

“Farming's the only thing that I've ever known ever since I was basically born,” said Eli.  “It was our way of life and it's what I love to do.”

He grows and harvests hundreds of thousands of pounds of food a year and brings a variety of products to market.  Eli believes the key to success is diversity, so he grows everything from strawberries, basil, and green beans to cantaloupe, squash, and bell peppers.  In order to be truly profitable though, he says you must have the triumvirate of produce: corn, tomatoes and peaches. In fact, his best seller is peaches and as I learned, nothing beats a fresh, tree ripened peach.

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Topics: Michelle Obama • The Family • White House
July 15th, 2010
02:16 AM ET

Activists: Stigma fuels HIV/AIDS rates in African-American community

Washington (CNN) - As President Obama announced the first national HIV/AIDS strategy earlier this week, outside the gates of the White House, 3 percent of the District of Columbia's population continues to live with the disease.

HIV/AIDS rates in the district are "on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya" where the disease has raged for years, says Shannon Hader, Washington's former HIV/AIDS administration director.

Three percent of Washingtonians live with HIV/AIDS, according to a study released by the district in 2009. The accepted threshold for a "generalized and severe epidemic," according to the study, is 1 percent.

Flanked by national health care administrators and community activists, Obama said his national strategy is to increase prevention and improve treatment while reducing disparities among groups hardest-hit by the disease.

In Washington, that's the African-American community, according to activists. FULL POST


Topics: President Obama • The Vault • White House
July 2nd, 2010
02:32 AM ET

Is a billion-dollar summit worth it?

Washington (CNN) - Like Dr. Evil learned in the Austin Powers movies, a billion dollars isn't quite what it used to be.

This weekend's G8 and G-20 summits are expected to top $1 billion in costs. At such a large price tag, it's reasonable to ask if the meetings are worth it. But according to former top White House aides, even with the hefty price the meetings more than pay for themselves in both tangible and intangible ways.

According to David Gergen, who worked for five presidents and has participated in several of these summits, the world has already seen a return on the current $1 billion investment.

"The G-20 meeting is expensive, but it has already paid for itself because China announced a strengthening of its currency, which is good for the United States and for many other countries," Gergen said. "China only announced it was going to revalue its currency upward because the G-20 was going to occur."

The summits also offer an opportunity for leaders to meet face to face, giving them a chance to build relationships and sometimes change first impressions.

"President Reagan's first G8 was in Canada, and at that time he was sort of seen as a cowboy by much of the world," Gergen recounted.

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Topics: President Obama • The News • White House