The political downfall of arugula

How arugula's pristine reputation was ruined by politics.


Low stakes news stories and petty pugnacious politicians resulted in the downfall of an innocent green vegetable– rocket or arugula as it’s known in your local grocery store.
In 2007, when Barack Obama was just a presidential hopeful, he spoke to a group of farmers in Iowa worried about their stagnated crop prices while America’s grocery prices continued to rise.
While making a broad point about American grocery costs, Obama used the inflated price of arugula at Whole Foods to argue his point. At the time, arugula wasn’t well known enough to be name checked and there wasn’t even a Whole Foods in Iowa.
Conservatives charged Obama with elitism, and arugula dominated political news cycles. This marked a breaking point in American history, the moment when food became proof of a person’s ability to govern.
Although Obama won the 2008 presidential election, arugula never recovered.
Kale and arugula were at similar popularities before the debacle; afterwards kale gained a huge lead in popularity over its less bitter counterpart.
Charging Obama with elitism after mentioning arugula wasn’t even that accurate. Arugula is vaguely European, which doesn’t qualify it as “fancy” or “elite”.
In fact, Arugula is mostly eaten in Italy, and in America it is most popular among Italian immigrants and isn’t anymore expensive than kale or iceberg lettuce or even frisée. In fact, frisée is more expensive than arugula. Who even knows what frisée is?
Arugula is a simple lettuce and didn’t deserve the hate it got. No other lettuce offers what arugula does- an actual flavor. It is universally agreed that lettuce doesn’t taste like anything unless you dress it. However, arugula has a pleasant peppery flavor making it so that all you need to do is wash its tender leaves and thin, supple stems and it’s ready to eat.
Arugula would be an easy sell if it’s reputation wasn’t tarnished by political backbiting. Maybe news media should focus on stories that matter and not ruin a perfectly good vegetable.