When I was in graduate school most nutrition conversations centered on one of two things either vanity or hospitals. Things started to change a few years ago thanks in part to important voices such as Marion Nestle and Michael Pollan. Nurtition started to be less about diet books and more about dire changes. Today, there’s no way to extricate nutrition and health. We see nutritional issues in the health care bill, our first lady taking on nutrition as her primary cause and just today two of the pieces in the Op-Ed section of the New York Times were about nutrition (one about school lunches and one about food producers). It’s no surprise then that a new T.V. show about a chef attempting to change the foodscape in a school system, in what was could be called the obesity capital of the United States, is creating more than a little buzz.
The title of the show is Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and it airs Friday nights on ABC. Due to travel, I missed the first two episodes but heard about them. Clients and friends were asking for my opinion, twitter was full of praise for the show, people were paying attention. I DVRed Friday’s episode and watched it last night. I think people’s eyes can glaze over when they hear about school lunches. There’s no turning away when you see it in action. In my day-to-day work I am surrounded my people who want to know more about nutrition, who want to be proactive and want to improve their heath. This is certainly not the case in Huntington, W.V. At one point in the show Jamie Oliver cooked a meal for the high school students’ lunch line. He made an Asiany noodle dish with 10 different fresh vegetables. He also made chicken teriyaki to go with it. It was the best looking school lunch I’ve ever seen. It looked kid-friendly and colorful. Mr. Oliver was pulled aside by the director of food service. “There’s not enough vegetable’s in that meal to make it reimbursable.” Mr. Oliver mentioned that boatload of veggies or as he said “veg” that went into the meal. She said it didn’t meet the quota and had to change it. Her solution, adding French fries to the meal. It was absurd and so sad, I wanted to shake her through my television set.
The second part of the show focused on a group of teens who had volunteered to work with Mr. Oliver. One of these teenagers had lost her father and uncle to complications of obesity. Another boy saw learning to cook as an escape from an unfocused childhood replete with behavior issues. Mr. Oliver leads these novice cooks as they prepare a meal for the movers and shakers of Huntington. While we’re all aware of how good food and nutrition can improve our health, suddenly the people attending this dinner and viewers watching on T.V. saw how improved food choices and cooking can change lives. I was sobbing!
I am not sure what Mr. Oliver is doing is completely new or revolutionary. I think it’s important, it’s receiving a lot of attention and brings to life a lot of what we have been hearing about. I would urge you to sign the petition if you are in support of these changes. Over 173,000 people have already done so and numbers like that are hard to ignore.
Have you seen Food Revolution? What were the most shocking or eye-opening things you noticed?