The first two episodes of his new program, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, aired on ABC last Friday night. He's come to the unhealthiest town in America, Huntington, W. Va., to see what he can do to get them to eat healthier so they will lose that terrible title. They got the title because of the town's high death rate.
He is focusing on school lunch programs, which are ghastly and not just in Huntington. One of my favorite parts of the show are when he goes to talk to the cooks at an elementary school. Here's this guy with an English accent and hair looking like he used a submersion blender to comb it and he's hoping to convince these women to prepare healthier meals for the kids. It's a good thing there weren't any knives around; if looks could have killed he would have been dead.
The kids were getting pizza for breakfast. Yikes. Also the school was throwing away tremendous amounts of this junk food. The kids only got flavored milk. That sure didn't sound like my elementary school. Kids can't learn if they don't get good nutrition.
He convinces the ladies to cook one meal from scratch; pretty simple marinated chicken parts and a salad. Kids didn't like it. There are times in the program where he cries real tears of frustration. By the way, he did this same type of thing in Great Britain to help improve kid's nutrition there and was quite successful.
Next he goes into an elementary school classroom with some vegetables; the kids can't identify them (not even a tomato or potato). Then he convinces a family to have a health evaluation at a local doctor's office. The teenage boy is borderline diabetic; sort of a wake up call for the parents. Jamie helps them shop for healthy foods, gives them some simple recipes and comes back in a week to see how they are doing. Most of the healthy food is still in the refrigerator.
He opens up Jamie's Kitchen in a storefront in downtown Hungtington where kids and adults can come to learn about food. The grossest part of the show happened here. He showed the kids a whole, raw chicken. Then he chopped off all the meat; legs, thighs, wings, and breast. He chopped up the remaining carcass and put it in a Cuisinart which turned it to mush. He added a bit of flour to make it less sticky and then cut out a round piece that when fried looked like a Chicken McNugget. He asked the kids which they preferred the meat of the chicken or the chicken McNugget. They chose the McNugget.
I was surprised that a major network would air a program like this on Friday night during prime time. Food is a politically loaded subject right now with the large conglomerates like Monsanto, Cargil and ADM under fire for stifling competition and genetically modifying seeds for basic foods like corn.
Despite corporate efforts, the slow food movement, organic foods, locavores and grass fed meats, are making it onto the front page and into TV network shows. Some may say that what we locavores are doing is not having an impact; I personally think they are wrong. Revolutions start small but they don't stay that way.
So, hug a locavore, buy organic fruits and vegetables at the farmer's market when they are in season and stay out of the center part of your grocery store. That's where all the harmful food lurks.
Jamie Oliver will be on this Friday night on your local ABC affiliate. Don't miss it; he might save your life. And he's kinda cute in a boyish way.