Cross-posted from The Green Fork.
England and America have historically enjoyed a "special friendship" exemplified by a friendly rivalry and a rich cultural exchange: silly sitcoms, shameless reality shows, cheery and cheesy chick lit, Hollywood's Los Anglo-cized adaptations of Jane Austen, and so on. They've got Nigella Lawson; we've got Rachel Ray (hey, no fair! can we trade?) They've got Jamie Oliver slaughtering a chicken live on British tv, we've got Mark Bittman asking carnivores to only come out at night--or, as he frames it, "Go vegan till 6."
The latest trans-Atlantic trend swap's got the Queen and "Macca"--that's Sir Paul, to us yanks--stealing a page from the U.S.-led "Eat The View" kitchen garden revival and the Meatless Monday movement, two high-profile pro-produce campaigns that are heating up faster than a solar oven in a food desert.
First, Queen Elizabeth adopted Michelle Obama's urban ag agenda by starting her own kitchen garden on the grounds of Buckingham Palace. The Queen and the First Lady have been forging a "special friendship" of their own in recent months, as evidenced by the spontaneous hug Michelle Obama gave the Queen at a reception, to the horror of the protocol police.
Who knows, maybe the Queen's growing friendship with our foremost ambassador for fruits and veggies was a factor in her Majesty's decision to authorize a new victory garden. It's been a long time since the Queen last dabbled in edible landscaping, according to the BBC, which noted that "This is the first time vegetables have been grown in the backyard of the monarch's London residence since World War II."The BBC story included a photo, taken in 1940, showing the Queen as a young princess wielding a spade and a rake. This time around, the Queen's delegating the digging to her staff. Claire Midgeley, the deputy head gardener, explained the motivation behind the garden: Michelle Obama said much the same thing yesterday as she joined the fifth-graders who helped plant the White House kitchen garden back in April harvest 73 pounds of lettuce and 12 pounds of peas: As the Washington Post reported, the First Lady gave a 14 minute speech proving that her foray into front yard farming is far more than the feel-good publicity stunt it may have seemed to skeptics: If the First Lady and the Queen's shared desire to promote food gardening and healthy eating seems like an unprecedented pairing, Brits witnessed an even more improbable UK/US alliance this week when Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono--famously blamed for breaking up the Beatles--came together on Monday to announce the launch of Sir Paul's Meat Free Mondays campaign.
By coincidence, America's version of the go-veg-once-a-week movement, Meatless Monday, relaunched its website on the very same day, so there's plenty of momentum growing on both sides of the Atlantic for this campaign to start your week off doing something significant to curb your carbon 'foodprint.'
Given the role that livestock production plays in producing greenhouse gas emissions, cutting back on our meat consumption just makes sense, and making a habit of doing so one day a week is a win-win, benefiting your own health and the planet's. As Moby, who's as famous these days for his NYC vegan café Teany as for his music, said at the Meat Free Monday launch:It's heartening to see two of Britain's best known citizens lobbying on behalf of a plant-based diet, or what Michael Pollan--another Meatless Mondays advocate--calls "the resolarization of our food chain." Here comes the sun, indeed. I just hope this trend endures longer than Madonna's marriage, or David Beckham's hairline. This is one cross cultural exchange that we really need to nurture.