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First Lady to Preside Over 'Iron Chef' Ep Starring White House Garden

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Here in Los Angeles there is a valued relationship between the food on our plates and the ground from which it comes. From weekly stops at favorite farmers' markets to digging in at a local community garden, the bounty of the land and its role in our eating lives has a profound meaning for many Angelenos, and Americans. Local Chefs are eager to share how they use the market to influence their menu, like Grace and BLD's Neal Fraser and Ford Filling Station's Ben Ford, while some, like Border Grill and Ciudad's Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger have partnered with the LAUSD to help reinforce the importance of garden-based learning and to be conscious of what we eat. The politics of eating has become a local focal point, thanks to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's championing a Food Policy Task Force this summer as we celebrated 30 years of farmers' markets in L.A.

While working the land and cooking its spoils is as basic as it gets, it has become somewhat of a trend, and one of the trendsetters has surely been First Lady Michelle Obama, who gathered schoolchildren in the DC area to help her plant a bountiful garden on the White House's South Lawn just this past spring. (The cost to plant: $180. The yield: 740+ lbs of produce.) To spread the word about the garden and related projects, the FLOTUS will appear on the season premiere of the Food Network's Iron Chef America on January 3, as two teams of chefs (White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford and Bobby Flay versus Mario Batali and Emeril Lagasse) battle it out. But the wow factor, reveals the New York Times:

In a collision of politics, cooking and popular culture, Michelle Obama will reveal the secret ingredient that the chefs must use in their televised cook-off: anything that grows in the White House garden (no further spoilers here, though). Mrs. Obama will also talk about her crusade to reduce childhood obesity through better school lunches, community gardens, farmers’ markets and exercise, which around the White House has the working title Healthy Kids Initiative.

Hopefully Mrs. Obama's Food Net debut will help keep garden education programs alive all over, including here in Los Angeles, when our kids stand to gain so much more than junk food-weight.