Monday, March 29, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Review

You may have heard Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. It's on Friday's at 9pm on ABC and it's a reality show featuring British chef and nutrition advocate Jamie Oliver trying his hand at reforming American eating.

Food Revolution certainly fits the mold of the reality TV genre, replete with type casting of villains, rubes and heroes, but frankly I don't think it's fit of the mold takes away from the impact of seeing just how much of a train wreck mainstream nutrition has become.

Jamie's Food Revolution is set in Huntington, West Virginia - apparently the unhealthiest city in America where nearly 50% of the residents are not just medically definable as overweight, but rather as obese. Nicely adding to the drama, folks in Huntington don't really know who Jamie is and what he's about and he's not welcomed with open arms.

The first two episodes revolve around Jamie taking on an elementary school where the students can't name common vegetables and where the cooks serve up both refined food and attitude, as well as around Jamie's work with a family where everyone's morbidly obese and cooking involves a deep fryer which upon Jamie's urging the family ceremoniously buries.

Hopefully the show will serve as a catalyst for change by exposing the problem for prime time America to see. As Jamie notes at the end of the second episode, the nuclear weapon of change are parents and if he can trigger some concern, maybe, just maybe, the timing's right to tackle the issue. Between Michelle Obama's championing of childhood obesity, the fires stoked by a decade of fear mongering around obesity along with the passage of a bill that will see some modicum of societal health responsibility in the US maybe the ground really is remotely ripe to till.

The show's got flaws. It's at times overly saccharine. It seems disjointed with flashbacks to scenes that were never aired and it doesn't seem to follow an entirely linear story line, but it is most certainly worth watching.

If you're a parent of a child going to school in North America where they're buying or being provided food in school take some time this Friday night to watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution or easier still, do what I did and watch the episodes online on CTV.

To wet your whistle, here's the trailer:

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  1. Anonymous8:37 am

    He's funny, that Jamie O. I admire what he's trying to do, and I love his cookbooks and cooking shows. But unless he's changed his ways over the past few years, he's not exactly the voice of reason when it comes to nutrition. My wife and I would collapse with laughter whenever his last show was on, as he added about a cup of olive oil to 'dress' dishes that had already been cooked in oil or butter... It was obscene!

  2. Anonymous10:11 am

    more on tv: 2 annoying ads:

    1. Boston pizza
    police interrogation room turns out to be a home where parents are trying to force a child into eating a meal, shot in drab grey.

    The solution - boston pizza, where family is happy, child is eating pizza happily, shot in happy bright color

    2. Cheese
    mother serves child meal of veggies and meat. child looks despondent

    The solution: imaginary cheese creatures, mother slathers foods with cheese sauce, child happily eats meal now that it's covered in cheese sauce.

    What I find quite disgusting about these ads is that they portray an ordinary healthy meal, cooked at home and served by mom or dad, as repulsive.

    A child watching these ads not only gets the message that going out for pizza and eating cheese sauce are good things,

    (as an occasional treat, both are enjoyable)

    but they also learn that eating an ordinary meal at home, prepared by one's family, is either extremely uncomfortable and unpleasant, or boring and disgusting.

    These are very slick ad campaigns. If people only go out for pizza occasionally, they don't spend much. So make eating at home look ugly, then make going out for pizza look like the right thing to do on a routine basis.

    Same with cheese. the dairy producers want to increase cheese consumption, so by an ad campaign that tries to make any meal look incomplete without cheese, they increase their revenue, and we increase our intake of a high-fat product made even fattier by adding other ingredients to make a sauce.

  3. It's a great show. Seeing Jamie dressed up as a peapod reminded me of this...Sometimes you just have to laugh at the American food culture…take a look. I’m sure you will be laughing when you watch these videos and you just might change your eating habits:

  4. Ahem! Huntington is is WEST Virginia, not Virginia where I live/practice, although we certainly have our share of unhealthy folks ;)

    I feel like we are on the verge of a Food Renaissance, as more people focus on "real foods" and "slow foods" vs. packaged foods with health claims for the diet fad du jour.

  5. Thanks Cassie. Have corrected.

    My defence is that I'm Canadian and Ontario's not yet a State.

  6. Even Canadians make mistakes once in a while!

  7. Anonymous9:22 pm

    Great show!

    As a Canadian I find it amazing that kids get meals in school at all. All the kids around here bring their own lunches, K to 12.

    Just as well!!

  8. Both my parents commented on this television program in our weekly phone conversation. They were both shocked by the terrible things children eat in American government-subsidized school lunch programs. As a former teacher I was not shocked at all. I've been making my own lunch for so long (working in a hospital district full of nasty fast food is about as bad as cardboard-and-grease pizza) that it has become routine.
    He may not be the perfect paragon of nutrition, but at least he's trying to help. I hope it works.

  9. I love that someone is taking charge and being upfront with it. Yes, Michelle Obama is doing her Let's Move campaign and making a difference but it seems there's more talk about Jamie Oliver's efforts.

    He's proving that you can be just a regular* person and make a difference and asking for everyone to submit their own efforts to the cause.

    *Regular is a term used loosely to mean he's not in government but he is anything but regular. He's a leader, a one of a kind amazing chef and trailblazer.

  10. Great show!

    Recently found this water company that is preaching the same sort of message, and they are appealing to kids directly the same way that the soda and drink companies hook kids on unhealthy drinks. They are called Wat-aah and its a really great company who practice what they preach.