Friday, April 2, 2010

Jamie's Food Revolution- What Do You Think?

photo credit: Flickr (Homard)

There's a new food reality tv show on and it's not another cooking contest. Jamie's Food Revolution is a little of bit Extreme Home Makeover meets the Biggest Loser but for the town of Huntington, West Virginia. Jamieis hoping to start a food revolution by improving the quality of food in schools and reinvigorating the culture of cooking in homes everywhere.

If you aren't familiar with Chef Jamie Oliver aka the Naked Chef, he is a celebrity chef who has been working to improve food through several campaigns in the UK, including School Dinners and the Ministry of Food. He recently won the TED prize which aims to help him fulfill his wish: “I wish for your help to create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.” The Ted Prize Site allows people to offer help to his cause and his TED talk is available online.

If you haven't seen Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution television show, it's on Friday nights on ABC. We're watching it and we want to know what you think. If you've missed the first two episodes, they're on the ABC site link above.

So what do you think about tonight's episode? Post a comment and tell us.


Sarah said...

I didn't know of the show until this week but have since caught up. And I love it! I was a little surprised that it was on ABC intead of the Foodnetwork. But that leaves me very hopeful that it will reach a broader audience. I've already had experiences with poor food messages in A's preschool.

Unknown said...

oh yeah you do NOT want to read what I wrote about him

Fran said...

I'm kind of sad to see there aren't more comments. I'll put it off to the fact that it's a holiday weekend, but I'd like to see a big discussion created here.

The show is fabulous. The lunch ladies in the elementary school make me angry and the enthusiasm of the teenagers makes me hopeful that the generation of our future can help straighten things out and that IF they are coached and developed, things can change.

I wish it was on a different night, because I don't think Friday night television is a big TV watching night for people.

Now I need to figure out how I can get involved locally. There's got to be something I can do to help outside of selling pots and pans. ;)

Ok, off to make some pita bread and falafel to take for lunch today. Yep, fresh food without a package is the best.

Lauren said...

Don't worry, Fran, I think there will be some good comments. We still haven't watched last night's episode- it's on the dvr. We'll watch this weekend and then comment. We'll post every week and see what people say...

But so far three things have really stood out in my mind:

1. the way Jamie shows the food people are eating across the day, across the week, across the year. I think we often look at products in isolation and don't account for the use over time. For example, chocolate milk is great but is it really great for you when you have it every single day? We often use the "balance" word to justify eating something decadent but it's only really true if we are really eating it once in while and having the other good things. Jamie's examples showed that there seems to be a lack of moderation and often the balancing items like the apples, were going into the trash. Hmmm.

2. The second thing that I am thinking about is choice. Do kids really need choice? Are they able to make the best choices for themselves in the long run? I would argue that giving kids choices that are all healthy ones still empowers them but keeps them from making decisions based only on taste or the short term.

3. Reviving the culture of cooking. I love that Jamie is not only thinking about school lunch but also the value of cooking at home. I grew up with a mom that cooked every night...and while we love to cook and often do, I can't say that I cook every single night. I aspire to but already, without even having a family, we are worn down by our commutes, the busyness of the week etc. This part really speaks to me about how to better plan our weeknights. I'm so interested in that part of the show.

Lauren said...

Laura, I'd love to read what you you have a link to share?

Marc said...

I have seen all three episodes and have mixed feelings. From a viewer's point of view, there are too many things that don't get enough coverage -- the family in the first two episodes wasn't seen at all in the third, not even for a short status update. But since they are working on "reality-show time," episode 3 could have been made a day after episode 2, while it was shown a week later.

In episode 3, I especially liked how Oliver brought the teens onto his side and started to give them some power. Instead of treating them like passive eaters -- "here's good food, you better like it" -- he's teaching them how to cook, how food is made, where it comes from and so on. Knowing how to cook is one of the most important parts of healthy eating.

The vegetable controversy in episode 3 was outrageous. While Oliver's real food option was deemed unacceptable because it didn't have the required 1 1/4 cups of veg (um, don't you think that they were 1 1/4 cups at the beginning and cooked down?), a chicken sandwich and fries was OK because there was an optional salad.

Unfortunately, elementary schools with full kitchens are becoming a rarity. Many schools don't have kitchens, only places to reheat the processed stuff that comes from the food warehouse or their freezers. So even if his revolution works there, he'd need to re-tune it to work in schools without a kitchen. The Slow Cook has an excellent series on school food in D.C., and is also posting at (under the name Ed Bruske).

Lauren said...

Thanks for the great comments, Marc. I can tell that this is being produced for a wider audience on primetime and it has a reality show element to it. I think that's so it reaches a wide audience and keeps their attention. I personally would love to see the "PBS" version which would be be 2 hours an episode and go into much more detail. However, i think that kind of show would be "preaching to the choir" and have a narrower audience.

I was really touched by the stories from each of the teens and they really did an amazing job cooking and speaking in front of a crowd. Putting faces and human stories in front of policymakers really helps convey the impact of their decisions.

How did you feel after episode three? I also want to know how Justin and family are well as what's next for those teens who were able to cook with Jamie.

Unknown said...

Hi Lauren,

I am enjoying the show. I think Jamie is doing a great job at drawing attention to the problem. I love that he is working with the kids and teaching them how to cook. It was sad to see the huge caskets last night but I am glad he won over the skeptical radio dj although you could see that coming! I wish the show was on 5 nights a week so we could see the progress he is making, it seems to jump around a bit and I would like to see what is happening with all of the different people we are "meeting".