Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

Image: Dr.MomOnline.com & ABC Networks
Because I have liked Jamie Oliver's personality and cooking style for many years, I set my DVR to record "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" when it began airing episodes a few weeks ago. (I missed the first episode, but since reality television relies on repetition, I got a very good sense of what went down . . . and there was at least one scathing review of the evident problems that were edited for television to make it seem that successful chef Mr. Oliver is not yet ready to tilt this bureaucratic windmill.

So . . . all Jamie wants to do is teach us that we eat terrible food and that he knows a better way to cook and eat. And he is concerned for the future of American children who are obese and prone (if not doomed?) to suffer from childhood diabetes if they don't find better ways to eat.

And, I don't disagree at all.

Sure, we eat fast food at our house. And we don't utilize as much raw, whole food as would be best. But, compared to most, I think we do a fairly decent, thoughtful way of providing food for our children and making them aware of what are necessary eating habits. I certainly know friends and family that do a better job at it than we do, but many people do much, much worse.

So, as per usual, my family is somewhere in the middle.

But Jamie wants to take on the LA Unified School District. And they don't want this pushy British guy with his cameras and his kale telling them how they should eat. And they are skeptical that his designs on a proper culinary diet can be mass produced for hundreds of thousands of school children in a timely and economical manner. So, they have locked him out and put him off and kept him away from the kitchens and the kids and out of the schools.

This is the central drama of the second episode, seeing how Jamie can bring his healthy revolution to the people when the bureaucracy won't let him to where the problems are occurring. Jamie is being polite and following the rules, but the suits in the boardrooms want nothing to do with his rabble-rousing.

Jamie gets around this by hooking up with a charter school. (It figures, doesn't it, that the charter school system--who are already skeptical of the cookie-cutter philosophy of the public schools would be willing to let him in. Ahh, but there is a problem, because the school that lets Oliver on campus is a partnership school that is still connected to the the LAUSD. And the tension mounts as Jamie finds out he can be on the campus, but he can't be in the kitchen. Heck, he can't even look in the cafeteria windows without teachers beginning to worry that they'll get summarily fired for the affront. Jamie is a true revolutionary, whose every innocent move can bring unintended consequences.

But Oliver is allowed to serve as a teacher in one of the school's Culinary Arts classes (home-ec to those of us older folks). And here, he hopes, he can begin to make connections to the kids that need the education; here he can achieve in-roads to the parents that can make better food choices and possibly petition the LAUSD to loosen their bans.

Still, by episode's end, it doesn't look good for Jamie and his happy vegetables. At the start of day two in the school, he is threatened with police in the morning and not being allowed to talk to any student in the school about the lunches they are served.

What will happen next? I don't know as the series has been hard to find on ABC's network. It'll get moved to Friday's this summer, but you can watch the first two episodes repeated at the end of May to catch up on all the action.

Give it a go, as Jamie might say. It is good (well edited) drama that has the potential to teach a decent lesson that we can all be reminded of. And Jamie has a good personality and, if you discount the artificial televisedness of it all, I think he's got his heart in the right place.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Did you see the first season? When he was in West Virginia? If not, you should definitely try to find it.
He has a good message - so good that the British government changed their country's lunch menus because of it.