America’s powerful agribusiness lobby has hit back at Michelle Obama’s decision to make her new White House kitchen garden entirely organic, urging her to consider the use of appropriate “crop protection products”.

Shortly after she got to work on the plot, Mrs Obama received a letter from the Mid-America CropLife Association (MACA), which represents the companies producing the pesticides and fertilizers underpinning “conventional” American agriculture

In the letter, MACA “does not mention the word “organic”, nor even “pesticide” or “fertiliser” but highlights the role played by farmers in preventing soil erosion and the massive yields achievable thanks to technological advances – technologies that can see a single acre produce almost 20 tonnes of strawberries of 110,000 heads of lettuce in a season”.

The letter “respectfully” encourages Mrs Obama to recognise the role played by conventional agriculture in feeding America’s growing population and is carefully worded not to be provocative.

But Bonnie McCarvel, the MACA executive director, was not so diplomatic in an e-mail forwarding the letter to MACA supporters and members, in which she said: “While a garden is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made (us) shudder.”

Whoops. I bet that MACA hadn’t planned on that email getting leaked.

This locavore blog broke the story – you can find the letter and leaked email here.

Reference