Friday, April 16, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution takes aim at school lunches

It's a Friday night thing for me now: checking in with Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, the reality tv show set in Huntington, West Virginia, a place Oliver refers to (somewhat inaccurately) as "the fattest city in the fattest country in the world."

Tonight he is meeting with hospital representatives, making a pitch for money. They point out how damaging it may be for Huntington to be identified with obesity. But Oliver is vehement about bringing change to the town, teaching people how to cook, and building a common commitment to fresher foods.

The show is sponsored in part by Wal-Mart, Bene-fiber, and Scott's Lawn Chemicals, so one has to wonder just how progressive its message can be. Cynical perspective: it's a green-washing opportunity for advertisers. On the other hand, I am convinced by Oliver's energy and the adamant passion he brings to the seemingly impossible task of improving school lunches. He boldly jumps in, takes risks, uses his foreignness to his advantage, and makes direct personal in-your-face appeal to those people who resist his efforts. The goal is "fresh food, cooked from scratch, on-site."

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution brings to a broad mainstream audience bold criticisms of sugared milk, trans-fats, and what he calls "horrible processed foods." It exposes the the bureaucratic issues and "state regs" that hinder change: the notion that kids need calcium from milk and will only drink it if it's altered with sugar and strawberry or chocolate  flavors, the idea that french fries are a healthy vegetable, and so on.

Learn more at the site for the show, and while there, sign the petition! It's interesting to see where the signatures accumulate: still only 5872 from Indiana so far.

No comments: