U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama Honorarily Gifted 1,400-year-old Lecce Olive Tree

Mon, 06/04/2012 - 05:03

At the Med-Italian Diet Festival last weekend, the Province of Lecce in Puglia dedicated a 1,400-year-old, 46-foot-diameter olive oil tree to the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.

The Province of Lecce invited the First Lady, the U.S. President, and the U.S. Ambassador to Italy, David Thorne, to the signing ceremony on 25th of May officially designating the First Lady as the honorary owner of the tree, referred to as "one of the oldest and most prestigious plants in the area" in the official communication.

The ancient olive oil tree, colloquially called "La Regina" (The Queen), belongs to Salento resident Ines Maria Antonucci, who attended the signing ceremony. After the fall harvest, to which the First Lady has also been invited, the St. Anne of Vernole Cooperative Farm will press the tree's 600 kg of olives into 100 litres of olive oil and send the it to the White House.

Michelle Obama was chosen by the Province and the Med-Italian Diet program because of her initiatives to encourage children and their families to eat more nutritiously and be more physically active. The Med-Italian diet program is honouring her because these values are so in line with the healthy lifestyle the diet stands for.

Her “Let's Move” campaign focuses on incorporating activity into daily life, while her school garden movement includes an organic garden at the White House that the First Lady regularly brings local school children to tend.

The Mediterranean diet, which focuses on high levels of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, was included on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2010.