A Brief Political History of Broccoli: A Guest Post by Barbara Sheerin

Broccoli originally was cultivated in Italy and Asia Minor in Roman times. It is a family member that includes Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and kohlrabi.

Thomas Jefferson was the first president to mention broccoli in his early gardening efforts in a letter in the late 18th century.

Despite its early presidential support, broccoli took a long time to take off in the US. It was not grown commercially until 1923, when the D’Arrigo Brothers Company planted a trail crop of Italian seeds in San Jose, CA, shipping a few crates to the East Coast to feed the growing Italian population in Boston.

On March 22, 1990, President George Herbert Walker Bush declared in a news conference that: He did not like broccoli, hasn’t liked it since he was a little kid and that he is “the President of the United States and . . . (he’s) not going to eat any more broccoli.” In addition, he banned broccoli from the White House and Air Force One menus.
Forward-thinking broccoli growers in California shipped 10 tons of broccoli to the White House. It was donated to a local food bank. National consumption declined 15% during his presidency.

Soon after President Bill Clinton took office in 1992, Hillary announced that broccoli would again be served in the white house. Consumption surged to a peak of 50% nationwide.

On 11/18/1999 Al Gore ate a broccoli quiche in a California stop during his political campaign. California is the primary broccoli state in the US. His eating broccoli was not enough to swing that state’s vote.

On 10/29/2000 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a story entitled: “Bush, Gore keeps stance on broccoli under wraps.”

The American Institute for Cancer Research declared “Al Gore and George Bush should no longer keep silent on this vital question.”

In the 2004 campaign, George Walker Bush began freely promoting broccoli consumption. In Cleveland 9/02/2004 George W. Bush was asked by a little girl, “Do you actually like broccoli?” He answered; “It’s O.K. I’m not nearly as turned off on it as my dad was. I kind of like the tops of the broccoli, I don’t like the stalk, myself.”

The last published data in 2004 showed consumption at an all-time high.n the 2008 election, John Mc Cain has anti-broccoli tendencies. Mc Cain will have to define his broccoli position more clearly in order to compete with Hillary Clinton’s long-established support for broccoli. Where is Barack Obama on this issue? At this time, nothing is definite.