Having come to the Governor’s mansion in, ahem, less than ideal circumstances, Michelle Paige Paterson is moving forward with several healthy eating initiatives that make considerably more appetizing headlines.
Today, Paterson announced that she would continue the local and organic food program that was launched last year at the Governor’s mansion. The mansion chef buys local and organic produce whenever possible, shopping from a CSA program and a food co-op for New York state-grown produce.
Additionally, Paterson is working with eleven middle schools in Harlem on a project called Healthy Steps. Each student is given a pedometer, and the class to collectively reach four million steps wins a trip to Albany for a meal at the mansion with the Governor and First Lady, as well as a trip to an upstate organic farm. Mush, children, mush!
Our Q&A with the First Lady on where she likes to eat in the city, and why healthy eating is important to her, after the jump.
Tell us about the food program at the governor’s mansion.
The local and organic food program is one of the initiatives that’s part of the greening of the mansion. We buy locally because it helps the economy. And organic food doesn’t have antibiotics and hormones, which makes it healthier.
Why are these issues so important to you? Does it relate to your profession in healthcare?
It relates to my work in healthcare, I’m the director of an integrated wellness program, it’s a program based on healthy living for people with chronic conditions. But I’m also concerned as a mother; I’m very concerned about childhood obesity. To see children in the last couple years just blow up is a real concern to me. That’s why I started the healthy steps program a year ago.
What sorts of dishes have you requested from your chef? Is it a big change to have someone cooking for you?
My family is used to eating healthy, I’ve always been such a health person, so it’s not such a big change for us. We told our chef, Noah, about the things we like to eat, and he prepares them for us. Mr. Paterson never cooked much, but it’s a big change and a welcome change for me. I’m so busy juggling work and family, it’s very hard to cook. And that’s a big problem for everyone: kids are eating McDonald’s and processed foods because the parents are so busy and it’s easier to give the kids money to go to McDonalds. For me, having someone to prepare meals helps me greatly.
What’s next for you—do you have any plans for future initiatives related to food?
Actually, I’m looking to do something similar to Healthy Steps, in schools in Rochester next year. I think it’s very important to get kids involved excited about eating healthy exercising. We need to let them know that healthy food can taste good.
When you’re in New York City, what restaurants do you like eat at?
I tend to like Thai food. I try to go to restaurants that to cook healthy, that don’t use so much processed food. David and I recently had lunch with Ted Turner at one of his restaurants, the Montana Grill. It’s very healthy, they don’t use meat with any antibiotics, they don’t use plastics, and they’re very interested in helping the environment.
I’m sure neither of you has time now, but when your family cooks what do you like to prepare?
We eat a lot of chicken and fish, stir-fries with vegetables…David does like lamb, so every now and then we’ll eat lamb chops
What would people be surprised to see in your fridge?
Well you know, just because we eat healthy doesn’t mean we never eat anything unhealthy. We eat in moderation—everything in moderation.