Michelle Obama’s much-ballyhooed White House vegetable garden, whose 55 varieties of produce has fed the first family and visiting dignitaries, has tested positive for elevated levels of lead.
An embarrassed White House spokesperson admitted the garden showed 93 parts-per-million (ppm) of lead, far above the safe 10-50 ppm. Increased levels of lead in the blood may cause irreversible neurological damage as well as renal disease, cardiovascular effects, and reproductive toxicity.
Even though the Environmental Protection Agency puts lead danger levels at 300-400 ppm, lower levels are considered dangerous to children such as the Obama children, Sasha and Malia.
A likely cause of the elevated lead levels is from ComPRO, a commercially available “compost made from a nearby wastewater plant’s solid effluent, a.k.a. sewage sludge” that was used during the Clinton administration.
The practice of fertilizing land with waste water is a common practice in America, and is legal under current EPA rules. However, growing food in sewage sludge is prohibited under the federal organic regulations. The Obama garden was created as part of an effort to promote organic farming.
The creation of the farm last March raised the hopes of many organic produce advocates. One restaurant owner told The New York Times, “The power of Michelle Obama and the garden can create a very powerful message about eating healthy and more delicious food. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say it could translate into real change.”
The Obamas intend to continue eating produce from the garden. A recent harvest yeilded 73 lbs of lettuce, 12 lbs of snap peas and one cucumber.