Have you guys been watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution?
I have heard it got really awful ratings (I heard wrong!) but I am enjoying it a lot and I think it could help make some real changes in the way America eats. (Yes, I watch too much TV. My cousin used to write an anti-TV magazine and I had a subscription when I was away at college. I used to read it during commercials during the two hours of "Hangin' With Mr. Cooper" reruns I watched with my roommate every single day).
Jamie Oliver is a British chef who lead the charge to overhaul the school lunch system in Great Britain a few years ago. He has now moved on to saving American students from the horrors of chicken fingers and french toast sticks and to teach families how to kick the processed foods habit and cook for themselves. This show focuses on his work in Huntington, West Virginia, which apparently was named the most unhealthy city in America.
When he arrives in town, he is met with a lot of resistance. I immediately figured out why, although Jamie seems to struggle with it: Americans don't like it when people come in with saucy British accents and tell us what to do. I think it might be leftover remnants of the American Revolution or maybe more people love "1776" than I originally thought, but there is something about that accent that whispers in American ears, "He thinks he's better than you." How dare this English dude come in and insult our pizza for breakfast? What's next, he'll start insulting football and bragging about how his country gave us the Beatles? Take your artfully tousled hair back to your own country, but please leave Harry Potter- we like him.
If you're not used to British guys, I am sure Jamie could rub you the wrong way. Since I also watch Gordon Ramsey on "Kitchen Nightmares" I was prepared to hear Jamie call grown women girls, honey, sweetheart and darling, but a less scholarly person might consider that condescending. He also calls cafeteria cooks who are old enough to be his mother "lunch ladies." Again, I am sure he's not trying to be insulting, but it could certainly be understood why people might view it that way.
He is just so gosh darn sincere, though. He really is pained when second graders can't identify a single fresh vegetable. You can tell he is devastated when the school kids reject his chicken for their regular pizza and chocolate milk. Sincerity just flows through every fiber of his being and he really is devastated by the idea that these kids might live shorter lives than their parents all because of the food choices being made in this country.
I've written before about my struggles with obesity as a child, and I think Jamie might be onto something with this show. His plan is to teach families about nutrition and then teach them how to prepare affordable and fresh meals in their own homes. He preaches getting rid of processed foods and going back to basics in the kitchen. He's also teaching kids about cooking and they seem to really embrace it and enjoy the time spent with him learning about food. Rather than target the elementary school kids and single the fat ones out for special treatment, Jamie is working to overhaul whole families. I personally think this might lead to some real changes in the way people view the things they eat, and who knows? Maybe a wave of change might sweep across the nation.
I do think that the majority of people who watch this show are probably already well-versed on nutrition. Plus, like Ricky Gervais said in an interview, Americans really do know why they're fat, for the most part. Still, I admire him for trying and I'm interested to see what happens with the changes he's making in West Virginia. Maybe he'll start a trend of eating steak and kidney pie and bangers and mash. Stranger things have happened, such as the popularity of Spencer and Heidi, so I wouldn't rule anything out quite yet.
So what do you guys think? Is processed food really the devil or is everything in moderation the key? I did walk away from the show craving chocolate milk like crazy, which is something I'm sure Mr. Oliver didn't plan on. I craved Big Macs after watching "Supersize Me" too, so maybe I'm just a weirdo. Maybe.
(Oh, and I stole the picture above from Jamie Oliver's Twitter. I am blaming it on my decades of high fructose corn syrup consumption).