Critic sees a healthy helping of hypocrisy

Obamas’ party menu scrutinized

By Noah Bierman
Globe Staff / February 9, 2011

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Watch out Michelle Obama. Robert L. Hedlund, state senator from Weymouth, is challenging you to a throw down. Sort of.

“Put your money where your mouth is Michelle Obama, c’mon!’’ Hedlund told listeners on his radio show Monday night.

It is doubtful the Obama had her radio dial tuned to WATD-FM in Marshfield for Hedlund’s show.

But if she had, Obama would have heard Hedlund criticize her recent efforts to revamp restaurant menus with healthier foods.

Obama’s latest healthy food campaign was reported within hours of a White House Super Bowl party Sunday that featured deep-dish pizza and sausage, among other fattening snacks.

The confluence of news stories sent what several commentators saw as a contradictory message. Yesterday, Obama was forced to defend the menu to White House reporters, explaining that she thinks junk food is OK in moderation.

Hedlund, the assistant Republican leader in the state Senate and a soon-to-be restaurant owner, offered his concerns in a radio monologue that was first reported by the State House News Service.

In a subsequent interview yesterday, Hedlund said he agrees with Obama’s goals. But he disagrees with her efforts to lobby the National Restaurant Association to shrink portion sizes and alter children’s menus to provide healthier food.

“The marketplace should determine what’s on restaurant menus, not the First Lady of the United States,’’ he said.

Hedlund is in the process of trying to open his own restaurant on the South Shore, and said others in the industry have complained to him about the abundance of regulations.

He believes that Obama should instead focus on food safety.

Despite his critique, Hedlund offered clear signals yesterday that he was willing to be won over by the president and the first lady, however.

“His choice of beer wasn’t bad Sunday,’’ Hedlund said, praising the selection of Yuengling and other regional brews. “Maybe if I keep nagging her, he’ll invite me down for a beer summit.’’

Noah Bierman can be reached at