Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

Posted: 28th May 2010 by Mister Critic in Random
You say you wanna revolution? Well the Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver, is trying to give you one.

Mr. Oliver has taken the work he started in the UK and brought it to the USA. He starts his “Food Revolution” in Huntington, West Virginia, which, according to the stats, was one of the most unhealty cities in America. From that location, he attempts to bring healthy meals back into the schools, get teens excited about learning to cook, and educate the public about the crap they are eating.

There are some very moving moments on the show like the young girl whose doctor told her that her liver was failing because of her diet and she would die young if she continued down that path.  And there are moments of shock, like when a first grade class could not name one single vegetable but could identify a French Fry in seconds. There are a few moments that feel forced or set up in the name of television drama, like the rivalry created between the local DJ and Mr. Oliver. But do not let that distract you from the overall message of the show because it is very important.

The most interesting part of the show for me was seeing Mr. Oliver battle the schools.  Since my daughter has started going to public school fulltime, my wife and I have become very aware of the decline in the nutrition in our child’s meals.  Remember the days that meals were cooked right on site?  Not any more. Now it is processed food, made at a central location and shipped out to the schools. I don’t mean to sound like the guy who walked uphill both ways, but the hot lunch meals I remember from my youth were real meals. Now it is a slice of pizza and some corn for a “balanced” lunch. And the kids toss the corn in the garbage. Chocolate milk was a rare treat back then, and now it is available everyday. According to the show, that flavored milk has more sugar than pop.

So my wife has become involved in helping bring about change in our school. There is now a “farm to table” committe working to integrate locally grown, organic food into school meals, and the school is planning a community garden. The revolution has begun! But just as in the show, there are guidlines to follow, and red tape to cut, and minds resistant to change. Hopefully, this show will seep into our culture and become part of the norm. Hopefully our leaders will hear this outcry and support these changes or start to make the changes on their own.

The problem is trying to get people to change is hard. As we see on the show, Mr. Oliver tries to demonstrate to a bunch of kids what goes into the chicken nuggets they love so much, which apparently is anything and everything. I mean it…all parts of the chicken are blended together, even the bones, cartilage, insides…everything. He fries up the blended chicken goop and compares it to a nice free range, organic chicken breast. He asks the kids if they still wanted to eat the chicken nugget and every single one said, “YES!” Not the answer he expected, but that is the sad reality in America right now. Hell, I’m an adult, I’ve seen the clip, I know the facts, and I would still eat a tasty nugget if you gave it to me right now.

Deep down inside most of us, we know this stuff is bad. We shouldn’t be eating it. We need to exercise more. The weight is not good for us. But the question is, how do we turn it around? How does it become habit to munch on veggies rather than chips? How do we rewire our brains to want water rather than pop. When to do we put down the nuggets?

Jamie Oliver is doing a great job of sounding the alarm, but will we listen? I hope so. Personally, I haven’t changed yet, but I want to. There still is hope and there is still time to join the revolution.

If you missed last season, you can still see episodes on-line at ABC.com.