Food for thought from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution
Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution – 8pm Eastern/7pm Central on ABC, Tuesday nights are definitely ACTIVE on my DVR
I followed the first series of Food Revolution based in Huntingdon, West Virginia, and have watched the first episode of this series based in Los Angeles, CA.
If you’re not familiar with Jamie Oliver or the Food Revolution, Jamie Oliver is a bright young British chef who popped onto the cooking scene in the UK several years ago with his series and book ‘The Naked Chef’. His spin is essentially to create simple, healthful family food easily, that also looks and tastes really, really good.
Jamie Oliver helped reform a food system that wasn’t working in the UK’s public (state) schools and has now bought the Food Revolution model to the USA
Jamie isn’t just a chef, he’s become a food activist. He helped the UK public school system improve its’ methodology and work practice to produce healthy meals on budget for British school kids.
Last year he went to Huntingdon West VA to see if he could implement a similar model there. He started in Huntingdon because the CDC had written a report in 2008 citing Huntingdon as being the city with the most obese people per capita in the USA.
The first episode of Food Revolution last week in Los Angeles…click here for a link if you missed it
This from Speak Easy – Jamie Oliver writes
“After last year’s experience of trying to change food culture in the beautiful town of Huntington, West Virginia, I expected the challenges in L.A. to be very different. Shockingly, they were all too familiar.
L.A. is home to the nation’s second biggest school district, which feeds 650,000 children every day. Half of these kids are eligible for free school meals. Within a few miles of the Hollywood sign there are entire communities with no access to fresh food. People travel for well over an hour to buy fruits and vegetables, and in one of the communities where I worked, children had an 80% obesity rate.”
Initially, Jamie was shut out of the L.A.USD – just for trying to discuss the ideas in the Food Revolution model
Despite many polite requests and his excellent track record in this field, Jamie was initially shut out of the LAUSD food program, including a shockingly rude ‘palm off’ by the then incumbent Superintendent of Schools, who offered an opportunity for Jamie to talk to his Head of Food Services if Jamie would walk to the back of the room at an open audience meeting.
A bait and switch was then carried out, with Jamie left outside of the room waiting to talk to the Head, but told by another official to submit his request in writing.
L.A. USD – school kitchens not in use, airplane food, 15% ‘pink slime’ allowed in any school food product and 57 tonnes of sugar per week in school milk alone
In the first episode Jamie set up his Food Revolution kitchen and asked parents to bring in examples of their children’s school food in L.A.
Most of the food appeared in packets and was a variation on the theme of pizza, fries, waffles, sugar flavored (and colored) milks and other sometimes unrecognizable items encased in plastic ‘socks’, in which the food was reheated.
Jamie said it looked like airplane food. I’ve flown several different airlines, and I have to say it looked worse! I certainly wouldn’t want to eat that every day and try to study at the same time, oh, and grow.
We definitely need a Food Revolution if we expect our kids to eat this
A similar form of ‘pink slime’ created from otherwise unusable cow parts and up to 15% of this slime can be put in any school food such as burgers. The long term health benefits of eating such food is becoming questionable since we are learning so much more about good nutrition.
The show also included an exercise where a school bus was filled with the amount of sugar included in one week’s worth of ‘milk’ supplied to L.A. USD schools.
It filled the bus, and overflowed onto the surrounding parking lot, shocking and upsetting those who had come to watch the demonstration. Standard servings of flavored milks in schools in the USA actually contain 28g of sugar, more than that added to an average can of soda.
The photo above is actually a picture of ‘repurposed’ chicken used for ‘those’ chicken nuggets. This ‘meat’ has already been processed in ammonia and will in fact be bleached one more time, because no-one will eat pink chicken nuggets!
I was one of the lucky ones – my mum packed my lunch fresh every day – and one of my school friends (from the USA!) used to say that my mum’s lunches were ‘legendary’!
I was very lucky. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was fortunate to have a lunch that was freshly prepared, always contained fresh fruit, in the summer from our own garden (and usually some home baking)…even home made lemonade and a number of healthy snacks. I always enjoyed my school lunch, and knowing what I know now about human growth and development, I’m sure that the food my mum provided every day helped me concentrate and study at school, oh, and grow into a healthy adult. What a gift!
What can we do in the USA to improve the nutrition provided during school hours every day, for children aged 4-18?
One thing you can do is sign the petition. This online petition is organized by Jamie and the Food Revolution and will be forwarded to President Obama and his team.
You can watch the TV series, and if you think it’s appropriate, have your children watch it too. Watch the expression on their faces as they learn what is really in their school food. Already my 7 year old Arianna does not want to eat a single burger that has any ‘pink slime’ in it. (I buy ground beef that doesn’t contain ‘pink slime’). She is serious enough that she swore off her usual burger at Freddy’s this week. A little information goes a long way in the education of our children. My children have packed lunches by the way. I only hope I’m somewhere near the ‘legendary’ lunches of my mum’s fame!