Monday, April 5, 2010

Thoughts on The Food Revolution

I'll be honest- it's sometimes hard to write an in-depth account of every single reality show I love. Celebrity Fit Club Boot Camp ends this week, so I promise that I'll spend more time on Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. This is a GREAT show that is worth my time and yours. Here are some quick thoughts on the the first three episodes I have watched. . .

I was born in West Virginia and think it is a lovely state, very beautiful, full of nature! The fact that it is such an unhealthy place to live seems to not line up with the quaint appearance of Huntington, where the show takes place. But like many cities (like my beloved hometown of Oklahoma City) going out to eat is the main event and there are many chain restaurants that support this habit. Add to that the mega grocery stores filled with processed foods and it is no wonder that obesity is on the rise.

Celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver has come to Huntington based on government reports that this city is the most unhealthy city in America. He managed to turn around school lunch programs in the UK and wants to apply those same principles here. I would think the people of America would be saying, "Thank you Jamie! We are fatty fatkins and want to break the cycle! How can we help you make this happen?"

Curiously, this isn't how he received. There is a huge (pardon my pun) backlash in the community from the local news, a real dickhead radio DJ, and this lunch lady at the school he is working on, Alice, who is really a nightmare. I have heard of contrary people, but Alice takes it to an entirely new level. She is a bitch. Plain and simple. Add to his troubles the school board's RN and the crazy USDA rules the schools must follow, and you wonder how Jamie is going to make this happen.

Outside of the schools, there is a little more leeway. Jamie speaks to a local minister who wants to work with him to get his congregation healthy. One of the church's families works one on one with Jamie to evaluate their food choices and it is HORRIFYING. Who makes freshly fried donuts for breakfast every day for their children? Who uses the Fry Daddy as a regular appliance? Jamie helps the mother to make every single item that they ate in one week, and the piles of disgusting food that was piled on the kitchen table made me want to throw up. Each member of the family was obese, including their 4-year-old daughter.

Jamie buys fresh local ingredients and gives the mother recipes to cook for one week. When he comes back to check on them, Jamie asks the family which meal was their favorite. "Pizza!" the little girl shouts. Pizza wasn't on the menu. And Jamie can't help but notice all the fast food beverage containers that are littered about the family's home. So, reality check time. Jamie takes the family to the hospital and tests the middle son for diabetes. He is predisposed, both sides of the family have a history of diabetes, and the family comes face to face that their bad eating choices are going to shorten their children's lives by about 30 years. A gruesome fact.

In the schools, Jamie must get the kids to eat his foods so he can stay in the schools and make some lasting changes. He must teach the kids what vegetables are first. Then he has to make eating the food fun. He has to teach the teachers to teach the students to use silverware, not just their hands, and to clean their plates.

When Jamie gets the parents involved by showing them the amount of fat their children are ingesting in one school year, I feel he really touched a nerve. No parent wants to be told that they are bad parents. Blindly letting the school program feed the children pizza for breakfast and tons of chicken nuggets and strawberry milk smacks of bad parenting. He gets a solid commitment from them to seek the change. Based on all these factors, Jamie is allowed to fight another week in the elementary school.

The third episode focuses on Jamie going to the high school, and seeing yet again the unhealthy choices available. Every teenager had fries on their plate. What Jamie has working for him was a cooperative lunch staff who liked his ideas. NO ALICE!

He devises a team of teenagers from all walks of life to become a sort of cooking club. He uses them to start raising the funds necessary to implement his program- a mere $80,000 is needed. Jamie gets all the movers and shakers from West Virginia to meet at a local eatery under the ruse he will be cooking them a meal. Imagine everyone's surprise when they see this rag tag group of teens prepped and cooked the entire event! Their stories are so touching that wallets were opened and the revolution is funded for another day.

I hope and pray for the health of our kids that this show spreads like wildfire across this great country of ours. Yes, we have the freedom to eat whatever we choose. It doesn't mean we should.

Watch the show! And make sure to sign Jamie's food petition!:

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